The Celtics nearly squandered another game Sunday night in Minnesota, but it's likely their coach's words were ringing in their ears as they held on for a win.
After Monday night's comeback win in New York, Doc Rivers said he called his team "soft" at halftime.
Then the Celtics came home and lost to Memphis and Charlotte.
"The way we're playing shocks me," Rivers said after those losses. "Our attitude shocks me. We're just not ready to win any games right now the way we play, the way our approach is to basketball games.
"Right now I just think we've become very, very selfish -- not just as far as trying to get our own, but everything is about how we're playing individually instead of how the team is playing.
"You can see it. A guy struggles, he pouts. Everything is me, me, me on our team right now -- feeling sorry for themselves, instead of giving themselves to the team and playing. You can just see it manifest throughout the team. Until we can get through that, we will continue to have results like we had (Wednesday and Friday)."
As for failing to heed the competition from less talented teams and letting them hang around until they create trouble, Rivers said, "I always say it. You screw around with the game and the game will screw around with you. Either I'm doing a terrible job getting to them or right now they just aren't there. I don't know why. It's my job to figure it out though."
And the coach sees no comparison to last season, when the Celtics went 27-27 down the regular-season stretch.
"Nothing like this," he said. "Last year I shut them down. They were injured. They're not injured. They're not playing well. Last year we lost Game 7 on the road."
CELTICS 85, TIMBERWOLVES 82: Paul Pierce scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics avoided what would have been an embarrassing loss. The Celtics outscored Minnesota 32-13 in the first quarter and led by as many as 25 in the first half, but the Wolves came back to take a lead. Pierce then took over in the last period. Kevin Garnett added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
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