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Celtics bettors need more from Boston's big names

The Boston Celtics are dogging it. At least that’s what head coach Doc Rivers thinks. And that’s what NBA bettors think, after watching Boston start the season 0-4 against the spread.

“We’ve got to get more guys that play harder,” Rivers said after the rested Celtics (three days off) huffed and puffed their way to an overtime win over the depleted Wizards at home Wednesday night.

The 100-94 OT victory improved Boston to 2-2 SU but fell short of the 9.5-point spread. The Celtics are the only team in the league without a single cover this season. They give 5.5 points to the Philadelphia 76ers at home Friday.

“I don’t care if we play well or not, because that’s just human,” Rivers told the media. “But we just have to play with better focus.”

The Celtics were able to hang with the Miami Heat for a half before staggering late on opening night. LeBron happens.

But three nights later, in the home opener, Boston looked lethargic from wire to wire and was run off the court by the Milwaukee Bucks. Back-to-back tight wins over the Wizards hardly calmed the masses, and the Celtics know they are only two possessions away from taking the court tonight at 0-4 SU.

A nine or 10-deep rotation was supposed to cover up for the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of career miles logged by the team’s two linchpins, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Garnett (14.8 points, nine rebounds, two blocks a game) has held up his end of the bargain, but Pierce is shooting 35 percent from the floor and looks slow. And newcomers Jason Terry and Courtney Lee haven’t come close to hitting their strides.

The Sixers (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) have played Boston tough in recent years, and last season took the Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals, forcing Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen to play big minutes instead of resting for the Miami series.

Philadelphia center Andrew Bynum is still in street clothes, but the Sixers have a decent game and aren’t intimidated by the Boston. The 76ers are also 2-2 SU but have managed to cover the spread in two of those contests, most recently a 77-62 win over the New Orleans Hornets as 1.5-point road favorites Wednesday.

Seventy-eight games remain for the Celtics before the real NBA season starts. But it will be a rough ride to the playoffs for this veteran team unless Rivers can coax a better effort out of his key players.

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