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Doc Rivers’ “What the…?” Moment


The Boston Celtics had a bad loss last night.  There is really no other way to put it.  You could say they “let this one get away” but the Cavs never really seemed out of it.  Even when the Celtics were up 11 in the fourth quarter, there was this feeling that the Cavs weren’t really out of it.  I wonder when coach Doc Rivers’ had his “What the…” moment.  I mean, his second “What the…?” moment.  The one that came in the fourth quarter.  His first one actually arrived pregame.

In a moment of preemptive levity, Rivers met with the media before the tip and Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette asked him about what it was like being on TV while attending Duke games.  If you’re a fan of college basketball, specifically the Dukies, then you suck (NSFW) and know that Doc’s son Austin is a freshman combo guard.  Doc goes to as many games as he can because he’s one of the best Dads ever and when he’s at Cameron, the cameras find him.  So when asked, here was Doc’s response:

For the record I, unlike many of those around me, laughed for an appropriate length of time.

Doc’s second “What the…?” moment came in the fourth quarter when he saw his team’s 11 point lead dissipate into one of the worst losses of the season.  In case you missed it, Hayes cut together the string of fourth quarter possessions in his Highlight post.  I’ll give you a minute to watch it…. almost done?…okay, I’ll give you another 30 seconds…okay, done.  As you can see, the Celtics really squirted this one away.

It may have looked like Doc’s moment came when Paul Pierce did not get the foul call when his man jumped into him on a jumper attempt because Doc went ballistic (for good reason too.  Did anyone see a difference between Pierce’s move and the foul call on Brandon Bass for jumping into Antawn Jamison?).  But really, it came a few minutes after that when he realized he failed to reintegrate his starters for the stretch.

It wasn’t until just under four minutes that Rivers replaced E’Twaun Moore, Sasha Pavlovic, and Chris Wilcox/Greg Stiemsma with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Avery Bradley.  It’s not hard to see why Rivers left his bench in so long.  The C’s were rolling in the fourth and the bench was playing well (I mean, Pav DUNKED THE BALL!).  That said, it’s pretty obvious that Rivers would have been better served by slowly rotating in his starters.  Who does he think his team is, the San Antonio Spurs? As soon as there were five minutes to go in the game, it seems like Rivers should have put KG back in the game. Then follow that up with Pierce a minutes later. So much of this game is based on rhythm and the C’s starters were all out of sorts when that mass substitution happened.

It’s really easy to second guess Doc on this after knowing how the game finished.  It’s also funny to think that Rivers is usually getting killed for over-extending his starters and playing them too many minutes.  It’s fair to say that if Doc left KG and Pierce in the game with an 11 point lead late in the fourth, we’d be reading about what a bone-head move it was to play them the extra minutes.

This is the first time in a long time where Doc has a bench unit he can actually trust (does he have a choice?). The Celtics’ are so close to really hammering down some consistent rotations and once they do, I don’t think there will be too many games like this one.

  • timthomas4prez

    Doc's living in the past…..it's not 2008 anymore YOU NEED TO MIX UP THE ROTATIONS!!!!!!! Pierce with the infamous last second dribble off the leg or hunk up a piece of garbage is over……Play the young guards….here's a huge question I have too How was Avery Bradley the #1 ranked highschool player in the country, granted his defense is phenomal but seriously he looks like the kid you play pickup basketball with you hope he passed the ball up quick to someone who can actually dribble and hope they never take a shot…..

  • smalltownID

    "This is the first time in a long time where Doc has a bench unit he can actually trust (does he have a choice?)"

    This may be the dumbest comment I have seen on Celtics Hub. I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around it. I can't remember a bench as bad as this since the Big 3 arrived. I am pining for TA for the love of all that is holy!!!

    • jacksobd

      Aside from Eddie House and Leon Powe during the 08-09 season, Brandon Bass has the highest PER of any consistent Celtics bench player during the Big Three era. The season is still young but I'd venture to guess that Bass' numbers actually rise to his career averages. I think Wilcox and Pietrus will finish the season with great numbers too.

      But I do agree that "dumb" and "researched" are synonyms.

      • smalltownID

        I wouldn't say citing one player's PER to compare bench personnel that consists of at least 3 players which vary among and within seasons as "researched". You have to admit referring to the bench as trustworthy is extremely premature. Would we have the best bench in the history of the world if Jeff Green were healthy?

      • smalltownID

        The only thing Bass could rise statistically (compared to his career) is in FT% and FG%. That comment also mystifies me. It is more likely that his ppg and rebounds will drop. Especially if our bench is as good as you say it is and they actually improve.

  • http://www.whatthestore.com dave

    I own a company whatthestore.com … do you know what size shirt Doc takes and where I could mail it to…I think there's going to be a lot more WHATTHE….? moments this year for him…

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