A few odds and ends for you to check out in between football games:
Doc Rivers knows what it means to coach in the NBA:
“’Coaching is coaching the locker room and coaching the floor,’ Rivers said. ‘I don’t think a coach is ever comfortable. You can’t ever relax in that. There are personalities in there every day. You’re going to have issues. Some of them, the players handle, but some of them linger on and then I have to handle them. If I’ve learned anything, you really have to pay attention to the locker room, because if you don’t get that right, then you’re not getting the floor right. I’m a big believer in that.’
Just as Wallace joined a situation last season that demanded instant conformity, both O’Neals had nothing to question this fall. But Rivers also has help of another sort. Where Rick Pitino ran away from all that preceded him in Celtics history, Rivers continues to use the ghosts of Celtics past as a tool.
‘I have the Celtic logo (to inspire), and I know that sounds corny, but it’s been a tradition,’ Rivers said. ‘It’s easy when you talk to Shaq and you say Dave Cowens, Kevin McHale, (John) Havlicek. You can start naming guys. Pistol Pete (Maravich) came off the bench. Bill Walton came off the bench. That is such a huge advantage. You name the guys.
‘(James) Posey said, “Man, when you start naming those guys, (expletive), if we win it, look at how people will talk about the sixth men who came off (the bench) — Kevin McHale, Bill Walton and James Posey,”‘ Rivers said. ‘That’s where you sell this legacy to your players. I know some people have walked away from it, but you should embrace it.’
In 2007, Posey backed out of an agreement with New Jersey after listening to Rivers’ pitch, signed with the Celtics, and won his second NBA title with his second team. Should Shaq earn a fifth ring with a third team, it will come from the same process — because he bought what Rivers was selling.”
The average fan does not realize how hard it is to be an NBA head coach. Most people think that by having professional athletes that are so good at the game, the players essentially coach themselves. Not true in the least. You actually end up running into massive problems if you let players run teams (if you don’t believe me, ask Mike Brown or Danny Ferry). Doc Rivers is often called a players coach but understanding exactly what that means goes a long way into properly evaluating how good of a head coach Rivers really is. You hear a lot about managing egos and again, take for granted just how hard that is. As this article highlights, it’s pretty obvious now why Doc Rivers had to strongly consider whether or not to hang it up after this season. While Rasheed Wallace did not mind coming off the bench, I doubt he was very receptive (intentionally or not) to being coached. Rivers may end up having his new Wallace with Shaquille O’Neal and the Celtics will just have to wait and see. Luckily so far, so good.
In another article, albeit similarly themed, Murphy reports that Rivers has let his players coach some scrimmages. This is just one example of Doc’s effectiveness as a player’s coach.
“The injured center called for a variation of the so-called “floppy” play, with Von Wafer cutting down the baseline and curling off a Glen Davis pick on the left side. But the guard was sealed off and passed to Nate Robinson at the top of the circle for a desperation miss.
‘We needed a 3(-pointer) at the time,’ Perkins said. ‘We were down six, but we didn’t execute it right. ‘Floppy’ out of bounds, with a back pick for Von, but it didn’t work. I was trying to really win. I was trying to beat the green team, but it didn’t work. Doc kind of let us coach ourselves today.’
Based on the result, Perkins proved one of his own axioms.
‘(Rajon) Rondo has pretty good plays and Paul (Pierce), too,’ Perkins said. ‘It’s those two. But no bigs draw up good plays.’
There is plenty of evidence to support that point. One C’s big man, in particular, is very predictable with a marker in his hand.
‘Big Baby – when he draws up a play he’s pretty much drawing it up for himself,’ Perkins said.
At least Davis still gets the chance.
‘Kevin (Garnett) is maybe the worst guy,’ Rivers said. ‘I don’t think they even let him have the pen in his hand anymore.’”
That last bit is the most surprising. Celtics’ fans have heard for over three years now that Kevin Garnett would be a great coach someday given his passion, defensive intensity, command/respect from his teammates, and knowledge of the game. Garnett has even received an endorsement from coach Doc Rivers should he ever decide to get into coaching. Perhaps Perkins is being taken out of context a bit here. Perhaps he is saying “no bigs draw up good plays” because they only draw them up for themselves. Regardless, Murphy reinforces one thing with his reporting: Kendrick Perkins is one of the best interviews in the NBA. He’s always honest, always candid. Here is yet another reason the Celtics and their fans love Kendrick Perkins:
“‘You see a lot when you’re hurt and you’re on the sidelines,’ Perkins said. ‘You try to put yourself in the coaches’ heads and see what they’re doing, see what’s going on on the court. I’m trying to install it in my head, so when I get back on the court I don’t make the same mistakes.’”
It’s obvious that Kendrick Perkins cares deeply for this Celtics’ team. He could easily be solely concentrating on his rehabilitation and not investing his time and energy into being involved with the team’s practice. Instead, he’s using his time in a contract year to remaine as involved as possible. This goes to show that not only does Perkins want a new contract next season, but he wants to stay in a Celtics uniform.
In Murphy’s third article, Rivers reveals something most of us have been expecting for a long time: Rajon Rondo and Shaquille O’Neal will most likely not be part of the crunch time lineup.
“Rivers got a closer look at a situational lineup that has Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis playing up front, with shooters filling the other positions.
When Delonte West returns from his 10-game suspension, the guard will be part of this special scoring unit.
‘That’s going to be a lot of times our late-game situation team,’ Rivers said of pairing Garnett and Davis. ‘They both can shoot, they know each other the best, and until Shaq and JO can get used to the guys, early on that has to be our late-game situation team.
‘If there’s a last shot you would go with just Kevin, and then put Delonte on the floor and you have all the shooting. If it’s a possession where you have to score and then go back and play defense, you have to stay traditional with your 5 and 4.’”
Rivers does not explicitly say anything about lineup specifics aside from having Garnett, Davis, and West on the court at the same time. Yet, he talks about the importance of having shooting on the floor, neither of which is Rondo or O’Neal’s strong suit. This means the lineup will probably be Delonte West, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, and Kevin Garnett. This probably won’t make Davis too happy as he’s made it pretty clear he does not want to play the traditional center position. That said, this lineup might be the best chance the Celtics have in crunch time. All of those players are solid free throw shooters, have solid midrange games, and Davis and Garnett are both adept at setting picks. According to Basketball Value, this lineup (save for Rondo in place of West) in the 2010 playoffs fared very well against the Magic and the Cavaliers but got demolished by the Lakers.
“’Too early for it,’ Garnett said. ‘It’s the first game of the year. Nothing’s a statement at this point. It’s Game 1.
‘You want to establish home. You want to play well. You want to continue to do the things you’ve been doing and I think for us, for the most part, it’s sharing the ball, moving the ball, [having] good chemistry. We just got to continue to ride that wave.’
This has been the Celtic company-line for three years running and I absolutely love it. You give credit when a team has actually done something and not a minute sooner. Can it please be Tuesday?