Some are describing the low-scoring Celtics vs. Sixers series, and other playoff matchups, as ugly. Celtics coach Doc Rivers disagrees.
"A lot of it is defense. I don't think a close game is ever ugly, in my opinion," Rivers said before Wednesday's blowout by the Celtics. "A 122-120 game or a 71-70 game, . . . if it comes down to the end and they're close games, then the crowd is excited.
"I think because of the lack of practices, though, the lack of execution you can see every night. It's hurt teams, us being one of them at times."
When a coach talks of making adjustments during a playoff series, it's usually done to combat a certain style, a certain defensive scheme.
Rivers has to adjust a major part of his offense because one of his players is struggling through an injury.
Paul Pierce averaged 21 points in the first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, yet was able to manage just 21 total points in the first two games against the 76ers, missing all but one of his six three-point attempts and shooting just 25 percent from the floor.
The defense of Andre Iguodala is a major reason. Another factor is Pierce's health. He is bothered by sprained ligaments in his left knee, which hurts his lateral movement.
"We're trying to get Paul to his spots, but it's tough because we're not sure where those spots are yet," said Rivers. "Usually with Paul, the elbow isolations are great, but right now he can't get away from anybody with his leg I think now we'll have to use him a lot like Ray [Allen] and bring him off screens, then get him space. The other way is the post. He did score two buckets off post-ups [in Game 2].
"I don't think Iguodala cares what [health] percentage he is, and that's what counts. When [Pierce] is on the floor, he's 100 percent. That's how we play our guys, that's how we view them. Whether he is or isn't really doesn't matter."
Pierce had 24 points Wednesday night.
Rivers is complimentary of the Sixers and coach Doug Collins.
"I think they played better than us in two games, we just happened to win one," Rivers said before Wednesday's game. "They play extremely hard, they're together, they're extremely well-coached, and they're athletic as heck. And they like each other. Most times young teams don't like each other because they're competing against each other to be the guy."
Rivers said the Sixers' youth has been overblown. "They practice just like us. Doug really has them focused, and they really know who they are."
After leading the team in scoring during the regular season, Sixers guard Lou Williams scored only 17 points in the first two games of the series and made just seven of his 24 shots.
Of course, he had 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting in Wednesday's loss.
Williams has never worried about his shooting. He knows the streaks come and go.