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Turns out Celtics players don’t like being called soft

Dec 1, 2012, 11:30 PM EDT

Boston Celtics' Garnett complains about a foul during their NBA basketball game against Brooklyn Nets in Boston Reuters

Doc Rivers knew exactly what he was doing. He us a former player who knows the reaction he got when he called his team soft (and frankly, their defense was).

The Celtics responded with a very comfortable 96-78 win against Portland on Friday.

Then Celtics players responded by saying they didn’t really like being soft. Here is Kevin Garnett speaking to WEEI:

“I don’t know any man who likes to be called soft; maybe some women,” he said after dropping a 10-5-4 in 23 efficient minutes of Friday’s 96-78 blowout of the Blazers. “Where I’m from, not most men like that. I think collectively he’s talking about our style. … I don’t think he’s coming at us as men, but he’s definitely talking about our style as a whole. Collectively, we all have to do that together; the onus falls on each and every last one of us, not just one or two guys. But, yeah, that was disturbing. Who likes to be called soft in anything, if you’re a man?”

Then there is Courtney Lee echoing those thoughts to ESPN.

“Nobody wants to be called soft,” Lee said. “Me, individually, I took that personally because I felt that I’m far from being soft. And I think our team took it personal, too, so we came out and had a good practice the other day. Doc was still going on his rant, so we had to respond and we did that in practice by going hard, beating each other up. Then we came out here and had a good start. We threw that first punch.

Like I said, Rivers knew what he was doing when he said it. Boston’s defense has not been its usual self this season and it drops off a cliff when Kevin Garnett sits. Rivers knows he needs the best of KG and better from his bench when he sits, so he prodded them. And he got it for one game.

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