Through 15 games of the 2012-13 season, the Boston Celtics are just 8-7 and barely floating above .500. To make matters worse, the team’s best player—Rajon Rondo—was involved in an on-court altercation that may keep him out of the lineup for some time.
It quickly escalated into a shoving match that winded up in the crowd behind the basket support. Rondo, Humphries and Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace (who had a previous technical in the game and was tussling with KG, but neither threw any punches) were all ejected as a result and the Nets went on to win 95-83.
When ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg caught up with the Big Ticket, he didn’t seem overly concerned about any suspensions and seemed glad that Rondo had his back.
"Obviously, we are (worried about a possible suspension)," Garnett said. "But it's what it is. You have to protect each other, and we consider ourselves family around here, and that's just the way it is."
It’s the second time in as many weeks that these two Atlantic Division foes have met, and the C’s have yet to figure out a way to beat their newly relocated rival.
The Nets have been outmuscling Boston in the paint, cleaning the glass and generally playing a tougher brand of basketball that has been the Celt’s specialty in the “Big Three” era.
Coach Doc Rivers recognizes that this is a great learning opportunity for his club, and began by openly calling out his players following the game—as per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).
"All that stuff, that's not toughness," Rivers told reporters, calling his team soft. "That foul was a hard foul. It was an unnecessary foul. The play was over and then he pushed him down in the air. But I think that's what they think of us: They think they can push you around."
The Nets definitely pushed Boston around, and more teams are lining up to as well. With a 36-year-old KG representing the only big on the roster with a fearsome defensive presence, the Celtics need to toughen up.
They are a proud, veteran group that knows how to win basketball games, but they aren’t going to be in many if their best players are facing suspension or the team continues to allow its opponents to physically dominate.
Fortunately, Rivers is one of the best motivators in the game and knows how to capitalize on an opportunity. He’s going to use this Humphries-Rondo bout as a way to inspire his squad and get them to stop being—in his words—so soft.