They are not dead yet. It was odd to hear Celtics coach Doc Rivers, mere minutes after his team had outlasted the defending champion Miami Heat in two overtimes on Sunday, invite fans and reporters to write his team's obituary. If the Celtics were not already six feet under this season, the loss of Rajon Rondo to a season-ending knee injury was supposedly the nail in the coffin. It still might be. These Celtics have toyed with everyone's emotions too many times for a two-game win streak to generate much excitement on Causeway Street, but on Wednesday the Celtics backed up their tough talk that they have not given up on this season. They trounced the Sacramento Kings 99-81 by following a formula Rivers has used throughout his coaching career: to simplify things when trouble arises. "Offensively, what I liked was, if a play worked, we didn't try to get smart and run another play," Rivers said. "We kept running the same play. And when that got stopped, we went to another play. It's simple, and it sounds simple, but that's what we did." There could be a temptation for a coach to get cute when his All-Star point guard goes down with a torn ACL. He could get fancy and overhaul the offense or, worse, try to cram a player like Courtney Lee or Leandro Barbosa into Rondo's role, which nobody can duplicate. The Celtics responded in their first game since learning of Rondo's injury by doing the opposite and simplifying the game to its most basic level. It was the basketball equivalent of Denzel Washington's litigation technique in the movie Philadelphia: "Explain this to me like I'm a 4-year-old." Avery Bradley and Lee set the tone defensively and shared the ball-handling duties with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green. Jason Terry and Barbosa, score-first guards with point guard-caliber handles, attacked relentlessly on offense. Kevin Garnett facilitated the offense for himself and his teammates from the low post, high post and everywhere in between. Every player filled his role with just a little — but not too much — more. "I thought everybody played the right way, how we envisioned," Pierce said. "Nobody had to take all the shots. We moved the ball, played tough defense, and that's the way we have to play the rest of the season."

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