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Doc on D&C: Trash-talking no big deal

03.04.10 at 9:06 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined guest hosts Butch Stearns and Steve DeOssie on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to shed some light on what happened in Wednesday night’s game between Paul Pierce and Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson. The guys also talked about some of the great trash-talkers in the NBA, including Boston’s own Larry Bird, as well as how the coach keeps his team focused and healthy during the monotony of an 82-game season.

What happened last night with Pierce and Stephen Jackson?

I don’€™t know what was going on, it was strange actually. All I can think of, I guess there was some talking on the free-throw line, and you know I thought more of it was frustration on Stephen’€™s part ‘€” he was struggling, he was having a tough night and it was really Ray more than Paul, I thought Ray did a terrific job on him, and got a little frustrated. After that, who knows, it was a strange one, it wasn’€™t like they were entangled under the basket, it was odd.

Was it about average for what you see in the NBA every day?

It was just average ‘€” you hear talking all the time. In this day and time, talking escalates more than it used to, and it did in this case. But I don’€™t think it was that big of a deal, I don’€™t even think I got up off my seat, I just let them go, what the heck.

There were legendary trash-talkers when you played ‘€” what were you like on the court talking?

If you talked trash to me, I just tried to get you back during the game with the play. If you could get to a guy with your mouth during the game, you would do it. You would do whatever it took to win when you were out on the floor. Times have changed in that way, it just seems like players are far more sensitive then they used to be. And I think because of the three referees, just think I played three or four years with just two officials, and it was accepted ‘€” it was like baseball with the inside pitch and the brush-off pitch, and you just accept it. Being physical, getting hit if you drove to the basket, and it no longer is accepted, guys lose their cool over it.

Anything that you remember specifically?

Not much that you can say on the air, but I can tell you one of the best trash-talkers played in Boston and his name was Larry Bird and he was terrific. And he said things that hurt ‘€” not personal family stuff, but about your game and about his game. And it bothered you sometimes, but not to the fact that you wanted to fight, what you wanted to do was get him back on the floor with your game.

Don’€™t you have to back it up, too?

Exactly right. The great players were the great trash-talkers because they could. Now everyone does it. The game [Bird] had 61, I was in the game unfortunately, in New Orleans, and he started calling shots. The last 3 that Bird made, bringing the ball down the floor, he leaned and said, 3-pointer, falling into the trainer’€™s lap, and that’€™s what he did. So either we were awful defensively or Larry Bird was really good.

All talking aside, you had to be pleased with the Celtics’€™ effort last night.

Yeah, I really was, you know the last two games I was pleased with a lot of things we were doing. Last night, defensively, I thought we were terrific, we didn’€™t start the game off great defensively, but at the end of the game, we were great. Our bench in the last two games has been terrific, and it was good to see Paul Pierce assert himself again, being injured, not having great rhythm two games ago, you can see last night he got back last night. Paul has to be our go-to guy for us to be a great team, and he has to be healthy to do that. And it’€™s good to see him healthy again.

Nate Robinson had a good game last night, and he seems to have a nice role here now.

Obviously we need him, as more of an x-factor. Nate’€™s not going to be great every night, but he’€™s going to have a lot of good nights for us, because he’€™s an offensive player. He’€™s a terrific shooter, he can handle the ball, which takes some pressure off the second unit, and when he plays like that, it makes us really good. You know I said yesterday, I don’€™t know if we need Nate to be great to win games, but when he plays well, it’€™s very difficult for us to lose games.

Are you trying to find a combination that works for sitting starters and playing bench players?

Yeah, I like the combination that we’€™ve had, you know Rasheed and Baby, if one of those two are struggling, you can go with Sheldon which is great. Marquis and Tony with Nate, and if one of those two are struggling, you can go with Scal. So this is only our second game this year, if you can believe that, where we’€™ve had our entire team intact. So our rotation and our minutes are pretty easy, it’€™s just good to have everybody on the floor.

Shelden seems to now be a bit of a wild-card as far as playing time, how can we see him getting into the rotations?

It’€™s like the back-up quarterback in the NFL ‘€” everybody wants to see the other guy. When you’€™re winning, they don’€™t care who’€™s playing, everybody’€™s good. But if you lose a couple games, why don’€™t you do this and why don’€™t you play this – who are you going to play him in front of? Rasheed Wallace is our backup center, so you’€™re not going to put him there. And Baby has not played bad at all, Baby has played pretty well, so that’€™s why it’€™s tough. And you also have Scalabrine. The thing we know about Shelden is he’€™s ready when he’€™s called upon, and so is Scalabrine. And on the depth chart right now Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace are in front of Sheldon, but Shelden stays ready and that’€™s what you need.

You mention this was only the second game with your whole roster available, how important is that heading toward the playoffs, keeping everyone healthy?

It’€™s funny, our minutes have been good all year, so I’€™m not concerned by that. The bottom line is you play them and knock on wood, you just hope they stay healthy, because you have to play them. I tell you what we need the most, is in practice. Even in games, the two they’€™ve been there, we still haven’€™t had a lot of practice time with them on the floor, and we need good practices, we need good practices the rest of the year to get good rhythm. I like where were at, I like our team, I’€™ve said that all year, we just need to get them all healthy together.

You have a good connection with your players because you were a player. Do you think it gets harder to get to them over time?

It’€™s always a concern as a coach, but you have to keep your message going, you have to keep changing it. And I’€™ve got a group of guys that are pretty coachable. This year has been very difficult, I knew that coming into the year, when you think about two years ago you won it, last year you go two seven games series, we’€™ve had a lot of injuries. There’€™s a lot of reasons our record is what it is. But I don’€™t think guys tune you out is one of them. I look at our record, I’€™m amazed, and you guys have lived here, you understand that, we have the best record in the league on the road. We’€™ve struggled at home, and if I have one disappointment, it’€™s that. If we play decent at home, we probably have the best record in the NBA this year. If we just play normal at home, we do. I like this team, I like what we’€™ve done. Would I like us to have three or four more wins, yeah, there’€™s no doubt about that. But I like this team, I just think this team has something in them.

Is it tough to keep veterans focused during the season ‘€” not bored ‘€” so they don’€™t look to the playoffs?

Oh yea, it happens to all of them. It’€™s different in football because there’€™s only a certain amount of games, where we have the 82 games. But it’€™s something as a coach you have to keep pushing through. You have to keep pushing their energy through. You use different combinations during the regular season to get the win during that single game. Players are smart ‘€“ they understand that they want to be healthy, they want to be at their best when the playoffs start, so you have to watch their minutes, you have to do everything to keep it going.

And there’€™s no worry about being able to flip that switch before the playoffs?

Oh, always it is, as a coach. As a player that may be different, but as a coach you’€™re always concerned by that. But I don’€™t really think our team has done that, I just think our team haven’€™t played well. For a lot of reasons we haven’€™t, but I don’€™t think it’€™s the switch. I think some of the veterans maybe, but I think you look at Kevin Garnett who’€™s been injured and working his way back to health, I think that’€™s been an issue. I know Paul Pierces is the same way. So I don’€™t think it is as much as people think it is.

Have you ever been around a team that plays better on the road than at home like this team?

No, I haven’€™t. A lot of coaches would take that problem, and I’€™m in that belief, because you know at some point you’€™re going to get your rhythm at home, and you believe that. If you can maintain and be a great playoff team going into the playoffs, and turn it around at home, things are looking pretty good for your basketball team. But no, I’€™ve never been on a team that has played so much better on the road than at home.

A lot of games coming up, taking on Philly, Washington, Milwaukee ‘€” but it’€™s become a lot more about what your teams doing than who you’€™re playing.

That’€™s all it is. Before the year, and unfortunately it’€™s been proven right, I gave our guys a schedule, and the 82 games, the opponent every night was us. And right now, that’€™s more true than ever.

Reports: Finley chooses Celtics

03.04.10 at 4:32 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, forward Michael Finley agreed to join the Celtics for the rest of the season. The 6-foot-7 veteran, who was waived by the Spurs this week, is expected to join the C’s this weekend. The 37-year-old Finley played just 25 games for San Antonio this season, averaging 3.7 points per game. Over his 15-year career, he has averaged 15.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

NBA Power Rankings, 3/4

03.04.10 at 10:40 am ET
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After a few weeks off, we’re back. This week we’re offering the reminder that things might not be as bad in ‘Celtics Land’ as you want to believe. They come in at… well, check for yourself:

1. Cleveland: He’s playing the best ball of his life. I’ve never seen him guard people as ferociously as he has lately. What he did against the Celtics — simply DECIDING to take Ray Allen out of the game — was Jordanesque.

2. Lakers: Watch this team play and you understand why coaches are always asking their GMs for big men. Their size is crazy, with all of their contributing big guys able to defend, rebound and score. Plus they have, you know, Kobe. Wow.

3. Dallas: Steal, steal, and steal again. Josh Howard for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood? No wonder the Mavs are on a nine-game winning streak. They’re now as good as any team in the league.

4. Orlando: There are a few things that scare me about Dwight Howard, beyond the double-doubles: he’s only 24; he’s developed his offensive game significantly since last year; and he’s become an extremely smart defensive player.

5. Atlanta: When the Cavaliers lost to the Magic last season, they improved their team with the Magic in mind. My question about the Hawks is this: did they do the same thing after being swept by the Cavs last year? In other words, Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith are nice additions, but is that enough to get by Cleveland?

6. Denver: God bless George Karl. He has beaten cancer before. Here’s to beating it again.

7. Boston: Put aside your anger at losing to the Nets; and your anger at Rasheed and his 3s; and the baffling inability to play well at home (damn, anything else?). The reality is that the Eastern Conference is weak after the top four teams are accounted for, and the Celtics still have no fear of the teams in front of them. Does that mean anything? And is Sean Grande right when he says that he and Cedric Maxwell will be in Cleveland for Game 1 of the Cavs-Celtics conference finals?

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Larry Brown: Don’t panic, Boston

03.03.10 at 11:43 pm ET
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Bobcats coach Larry Brown has a simple message for Celtics fans and others proclaiming an early demise for the Green in early March. Just relax.

“They buried us two games,” Brown said after his team lost 104-80 Wednesday night. In Boston’s home opener on Oct. 28, the Celtics prevailed, 92-59.

“But I don’€™t buy all this stuff that they’€™re in trouble.  They’€™ve had some injuries.  They’€™re just starting to get healthy.  They got some new players like [Marquis] Daniels and Nate [Robinson] now, Rasheed [Wallace].  They’€™re gonna be fine.  They got a great coach, they got great chemistry.  They’€™re gonna be fine.  I think everybody has bad periods but when you put the injuries they faced, all that’€™s done is develop depth.”

[Click here to hear Larry Brown rave about the Celtics.]

Brown has heard the naysayers proclaim the Celtics aren’t going anywhere because they’re old, because they can’t win at home and because they’ve lost the fire of a champion. Paul Pierce came out on fire Wednesday, scoring 27 points, one point for each minute he played.

“They’€™re gonna be alright,” Brown continued. “They play like this, this is the way Paul Pierce plays.  Garnett was phenomenal.  But I just like all the little pieces they have because I think Danny [Ainge] has done a tremendous job putting them in a position where they can play with just about anybody.’€

And Brown said no one could have beaten the Celtics they way they torched his team Wednesday.

“I don’€™t think anyone could have played in that environment,” Brown added. “They played great, they made shots, they executed great.  We played hard but there were too many obstacles. But they played great.  One time I think they were 10 for 12 from three.  They shot 60% in the first half.  Shared the ball.  There bench was great.  There bench was great last night.  So if we had played our best I don’€™t know if that would have been good enough.”

Read More: Bobcats, Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Larry Brown

Doc Rivers postgame, 3/3

03.03.10 at 11:23 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett postgame, 3/3

03.03.10 at 11:16 pm ET
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Jackson: Pierce challenged my manhood

03.03.10 at 11:03 pm ET
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Before Wednesday’s game, Celtics captain Paul Pierce made it a point to speak out for his team, letting them all know that nothing less than dominance at home would be acceptable the rest of the way.

During the game, that vocal spirit apparently offended Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson.

Following Wednesday night’s blowout 104-80 win by the Celtics, Jackson took issue with trash-talking by the Celtics and Pierce in particular.

“It turned disrespectful when certain things were said,” Jackson said. “You can be emotional in the game and you talk to your teammates and do all that but when you get personal and direct certain things to people as far as their manhood, that’s when the problems come up. And I guarantee you that if I wasn’t in this gym, that wouldn’t have been said to me.”

Pierce and Jackson got into a verbal battle and were each called for technical fouls with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter as Jackson was preparing to shoot free throws

[Click here to listen to Stephen Jackson speak out against the Celtics.]


Read More: Bobcats, Celtics, NBA, Paul Pierce
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