Doc Rivers was one disappointed coach Saturday afternoon.
Disappointed if for no other reason than his veteran team, the defending champions, looked like the nervous bunch trying to win a game as individuals and the young Chicago Bulls looked the aggressors led by a rookie.
In other words, the Bulls played with no fear in the house of the champions and the champs looked fear-stricken by Derrick Rose.
“Well, the playoffs have begun, and we’re down 0-1,” said the Celtics coach. “Put our self in a hole. And honestly, guys, I thought we did it as much as they did it. But give them credit. (Derrick) Rose tonight was absolutely fantastic.”
“I thought early on the first half—first of all we had no defensive energy—I mean, to think that we worked on transition ‘D’ for two days and the first play of the game (Joakim) Noah gets a dunk—now, that was extremely disappointing.
"I thought we fought in the second half better, but I thought we allowed them to get comfortable on our home court in the first half. And I told our guys that. I said, ‘Yeah, second half was great.
"But you let a young team get very comfortable on you in the first half and then you had to deal with them the rest of the game.’ Didn’t matter what we did, in my opinion in the second half. They were going to keep coming at you.”
Bulls coach Vinny DelNegro saw the same thing, only he was slightly more pleased.
“Whenever you win, you are going to build confidence, especially with the experience that we have on this team, but we have a very confident group—Derrick’s very confident, Tyrus, Joakim—they’re confident guys, it is just their personality.
"Talking about it but then actually going out and doing it is another thing. I was pleased with the way they played tonight, but we know we are going to have to play better than we played tonight. The Celtics are world champions for a reason.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Doc and what he has done here, so we know that we are going to have to raise our level on Monday. Nothing’s easy. It’s the first game of a long series, and I’m just pleased with the way we hung in there and made plays when we had to.”
Once Paul Pierce turned it in the second half, especially his two threes in the third quarter, the Celtics had the building behind them but the Bulls weren’t about to run out the door.
“And I thought we let—I mean, they took it, but we let them off the bag in the first half,” Rivers said. “So that was on us. Second half, we great shots, didn’t make some of them; I’ll live with that. Rose made some spectacular shots and I’ll live with that.
“There was no ball movement. Absolutely. I called two time outs and I said, ‘Guy’s we’ve been a ball-movement team all year.’ And it just looked like everybody decided that they were going to be ‘the guy’ tonight.
"They were going to be, you know, replace Kevin (Garnett) for whatever reason. And every time we made that extra pass, we got a good shot. Doesn’t mean we scored; we got a good shot. Every time we didn’t, we forced shots and we missed most of them.”