Doc Rivers on Garnett: ‘There’s No Way’
|04.16.09 at 11:14 am ET|
D&C: Hey Doc after a 62 and 20 regular season, are you more weary from the grind, or more weary from answering KG health questions?
Doc Rivers: Well probably the grind, it was an exhausting year in that way, it was fun, I mean it was really interesting being attacked every night, especially on the road, I mean every night but on the road you just saw the energy in the crowd, and teams coming in and trying to beat the champs. So it was an interesting journey.
D&C: You knew that was coming, you knew you were going to get everyone’s best every night. What you didn’t know was coming were the injuries and the man hours lost to injuries. If somebody told you at the beginning of the season, and made a list of all the things you had to deal with from an injury standpoint would you have said 62 wins?
Doc Rivers: No, no especially with them at the same time. I mean having Leon and Kevin out at the same time, and I don’t know if people really understood what we lost, not just the defensive part, but we didn’t have a post game. I mean you lose both of those guys, that’s your low post game and so we played perimeter basketball for the last fifteen games and still won games and that was impressive.
D&C: How will you know, and this is the obligatory KG question, how will you know after two days of practice if he’s ready? I’m guessing he’s not going to tell you the truth.
Doc Rivers: Well I’m just going to say this, I just finished watching him run, this is the first time I’ve said because it’s the first time I’ve really watched him, he’s not going to be ready. After watching him run, there’s no way, so we’re going to move without him and the way I saw him move today guys I don’t know if he’ll be ready.
D&C: Describe it for us.
Doc Rivers: He’s just limping, he just can’t run and you know this was an honest run today, you couldn’t fake your way through it if, you know what I’m saying. You know the guy is a warrior and you can see him trying to mask it, but after twenty minutes of running there’s just no way.
D&C: And you’re talking about round two, round three, round four, you don’t know if he’ll be ready at all?
Doc Rivers: I don’t see it, I just don’t, and guys I’ve flipped completely because I was watching him move and he looked great. And then after today, there is just no way, there’s no way he can play.
D&C: Did you shut him down? Will you say, ‘Kevin that’s it you can’t do this.’
Doc Rivers: I did today. I mean that doesn’t mean he doesn’t keep getting treatment and see where he can go, but I mean there’s no way he can play.
D&C: So let me make sure I’m hearing you correctly, you’re not just talking about the first or second game of the first series, there is a possibility, a strong one you’re saying, that he is out for the playoffs?
Doc Rivers: Yeah I think it is, you know I don’t know that as a fact yet. Eddie is doing everything he can to get him on the court, and Kevin has gone beyond that. But at this point after going through all the rehab, and looking so good last week and he was even running last week and it looked like he was running pretty well to where he’s at today. I mean if he can’t get through biking and working out without swelling and stiffness and his leg locking up, I don’t know how he can play in the playoffs.
D&C: I had done most of my scouting on the 76ers.
Doc Rivers: Trust me. I did about five hours of it yesterday.
D&C: What does Chicago present?
Doc Rivers: They have tons of shooting, and they have a great point guard. Not a good point guard, but a great point guard. He’s going to keep getting better. What he’s done over the second half of the year, he’s been the finisher. He takes the games over at the end. That’s difficult. But Ben Gordon, Kirk Heinrich and Salmons all concern me, because they can take you off the dribble and create their own shot. They are more of a perimeter basketball team and they are a big pick-and-roll team. I think Brad Miller has made a huge difference in their basketball team because he can spread the floor and make shots.
D&C: They’ll probably be pleased to hear that Garnett is out.
Doc Rivers: Yeah, I would say they’ll probably be more excited. There’s no doubt about that.
D&C: What was KG’s reaction to being shut down?
Doc Rivers: He was frustrated. In Kevin’s fashion, he was mad at me and mad at everybody. Then he understood. He’s been very good with it. That also tells me that he knows, too. He put a fight, but he just sat there. He’s really frustrated guys, to the point of tears frustration. That’s Kevin. That’s what you like about him. He cares so much.
D&C: Would the untrained eye have seen what you saw?
Doc Rivers: It was clear. Vinny from the Bronx could have seen that one. We were all surprised. Anybody could have seen that. That doesn’t mean you don’t warm up and it gets better. But it just never changed. His gait never changed, even when he was running at full speed.
D&C: I give the organization credit for being forthcoming about this. But do you still stand by the idea that the problem is not structural?
Doc Rivers: No. I can tell you, someone asked me yesterday if he’s going to need surgery after the year, and I said, ‘I have no idea. Hell, I’ve never even asked that question.’ I actually asked the question today and they said, ‘Yeah.’ But it’s a bone spur that they’re going to have surgery on. That would have been done if he hadn’t been hurt. The tendon injury is just not healing the way it should, but that’s time.
D&C: Was this inevitable? When you made the deals (for Garnett and Ray Allen) two years ago, did you think the shelf life, the window was going to close quickly and that something like this was going to happen in the first couple of seasons?
Doc Rivers: I didn’t think first couple. You’ve heard this story, but when we went on the little Duck Boat trip with the three guys, I told them, ‘Don’t buy into this Eastern Conference Finals in the first year, that’ll be great, then the next year you’ll win it. You guys aren’t young enough to wait. We have to do it now. We don’t have that, ‘Let’s grow together team, then win a title.’ We made that clear all season last year. Now, obviously, you’re happy you did.