Doc Rivers insisted Paul Pierce shoot more in Boston's most recent victory. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich didn't seem to have the same confidence in his stars down the stretch of a tough loss.
The NBA's two top teams, the Celtics and Spurs meet Wednesday night in a matchup that should present a contrast in styles.
Popovich has guided San Antonio to four NBA championships focusing mainly on defense. However, the Spurs (29-5) are scoring 105.6 points per game this season, good for fourth in the league. Their high-scoring offense sometimes causes opponents to play a more fast-paced game, which New York took advantage of Tuesday in a 129-115 home victory over San Antonio.
The 129 points allowed were a season high for the Spurs, who allowed New York to shoot 55 percent.
"If we score 115 points, I expect to win," Popovich sad. "Our defense was pathetic. It was our worst defense of the year. Nothing else tricky about it."
The coach yanked Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker from the game with the Knicks leading by 10 and three minutes remaining -- possibly still enough time for a comeback. Parker scored 26 points, Ginobili finished with 15 and Duncan had 14 while shooting 5 of 14 from the field.
"I asked them if they wouldn't mind maybe playing a little bit better (Wednesday). They said they'd think about it," Popovich said. "We'll see what happens."
The Spurs have bounced back nicely from their other four losses, winning the subsequent four contests by an average of nearly 11 points. They haven't dropped consecutive games since getting swept by Phoenix in the second round of last spring's playoffs.
The San Antonio offense figures to be tested by the Celtics, who are allowing an NBA-low 90.8 points per game. However, the Spurs have won 14 of their last 16 visits to Boston (26-7), which has won two straight with Rajon Rondo back in the lineup.
Boston went 4-3 while Rondo sat out with a right leg injury. Paul Pierce, who sarcastically said he forgot the starting point guard had returned, attempted to spread the ball around rather than shoot it himself in the first half of a 96-93 victory Monday against Minnesota.
"I thought Paul in the first half tried way too hard to get everybody involved," Rivers said. "I told Paul, `You don't need to be the playmaker. We need you to score."
Pierce took a more aggressive approach in the second half and finished with 23 points. Rondo had 16 assists.
Pierce's scoring has become more important since Kevin Garnett's right leg injury, which is expected to sideline the power forward for at least another week. Pierce has averaged only 11.7 points in his last three games against San Antonio.
Despite their lack of success against the Spurs at home, the Celtics have won five of the last seven overall in the series after losing 18 straight from 1997-2007.