http://celtics.bostonherald.com/celtics/view.bg?articleid=75651A week ago at this time, the Celtics were rolling along with a seven-game winning streak. Now they have to strain to find a bright side.
``Well, we don't have to worry about peaking any more,'' coach Doc Rivers cracked as he prepared to take a three-game losing streak into tonight's game with the Mavericks.
Added Paul Pierce [news], ``We've been humbled a bit these last three games, but I think we understand what our problem is and how we're losing these ballgames. We've got to understand that in this last stretch of games teams are going to take their play up to another level, especially against us, being one of the top teams in the East.
``We're killing ourselves on all the little things of the game - just mental focus. I can look at one or two plays that cost us the Chicago game, one or two plays that cost us (in) Detroit. It's just little, mental focus things. It's going to be the little things that get us over the top - boxing out, rebounding, guys talking on defense. Those are things that are going to win or lose games for us.''
Little things turned very large when the Celts met the Mavericks in Dallas back in December. The C's shriveled up, falling behind by 28 in the second quarter and losing by 19.
``We really embarrassed ourselves the first time we played in Dallas, so we're going to give a better effort this time around,'' Pierce said. ``We're a whole different ballclub - a lot more on the line.''
According to Rivers, ``Dallas is playing great. (Monday) night I watched them really closely, and I thought Detroit played well and I never thought it was really a game. They're playing great basketball. They're playing more defense than they ever have. They're moving the ball. Dirk Nowitzki is on fire right now. (Josh) Howard and (Marquis) Daniels are playing absolutely great basketball for their team.''