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Doc Rivers on D&C, 10/29

10.29.09 at 11:24 am ET

Doc Rivers appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show and talked about the Celtics‘ fast start, the impressive bench, and Glen Davis‘ immaturity. A transcript follows. Listen to the interview at the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Can the first game of an 82-game season … be a statement game?

I don’t know if it can be a statement game. I don’t think it’s a statement game to the Cavs, for sure. But I think for us, it helps us. Because we’ve had problems winning in that building, and now you have that monkey off your back, so when you go in there, at least that won’t be in the conversation anymore.

Was [last night’s blowout] useful?

It’s always useful this early in the season. We have a lot of things to work on. They didn’t play well, Charlotte, especially in the first half. It’s funny, I thought defensively we were really good, obviously, you look at the numbers all game. But in the first half, I thought we played terrific defense and our offense didn’t match at all. And then in the second half we continued to play terrific defense and then our offense matched. And that’s what stretched the score. I think it was only 10 points at halftime. It was one of those games. Film-wise, it will be a good film session for us when we watch it tomorrow.

Are there not some easy wins in the NBA?

You’re never comfortable. Obviously, just like in football, fourth quarter, you have a big lead, that quarter can become easy. But up until then, it’s all work. You have to earn that score, you have to earn that lead. I was not happy at halftime, because I thought we had blown a golden opportunity to maybe have an easy night the rest of the night. And then we came out in the third quarter and played terrific on both ends. But it’s still hard work to get those leads. And once you get it, as a coaching staff, then you’re panicked to keep it all the time.

Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with the whole world hearing you say to your whole team [during a taped speech before Tuesday’s game in Cleveland] ‘ … We’re going to win the championship this year.’

Well, I’m not comfortable with a camera in the locker room, I can tell you that. … It’s not like it’s a secret that that’s our goal. So, that part of it is not a big deal to me. But with this group, I think it’s fairly important every day to keep them on the thought of a theme. That’s a championship thought. We do that every year. The first game, we state the goal, and then we tell them, “Now, from this point on, that goal is a lost memory. It’s the process to reach the goal from this point on.” And that’s mostly what I was talking about. I didn’t know that was even shown until yesterday after the game someone asked me about it, and I was like “Wow, that’s the first that I’ve heard about it.”

Marquis Daniels was kind of under the radar. Can you tell us how that all went, and what role he will play and what kind of guy he is?

He’s a terrific guy. He’s a great example of, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” He’s just an absolutely wonderful, wonderful guy. It’s funny, it’s a quick story. Kevin Garnett a couple of days ago, we were talking on the plane, and he walked up to me and said, “I had no idea how good Marquis Daniels was, and I had no idea what type of person he is.” He’s so quiet when you play against him, that you form your own thoughts about what type of guy he is. He’s one of those acquisitions that went under the radar. I was saying this summer and the beginning of the year, I don’t people realize how good he is and what he can do for our team. He’s going to be able to handle the ball, he’s going to be a post player for us, and he’s a terrific defender. So, he fits our team and he our role. He’s exactly perfect.

Is he the first guard off the bench? Is his job to spell [Rajon] Rondo?

No. When I say point guard, what I mean by that is he can play point from the small forward position. Meaning that Eddie House is on the floor as your point guard, at least defensively. Marquis is on the floor as your 3 or 2. But Marquis can still handle the ball. If you remember in the Cleveland game, we actually did put him at the point. We had the lineup of Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen] and Marquis in the second quarter, and that gave us a nice push. There will be times we’ll do that. But usually the first guy off the bench is usually dictated by fouls more than substitutions.

You put him on LeBron [James] for a while, didn’t you?

Yeah, I thought he did a terrific job. And that’s where he helps us. You know, last year, Paul didn’t have a rest period defensively. He guarded the best guy, either at the 2 or 3, most nights. Through a season, that’s taxing. The year before we had [James] Posey to do that, and this year now we have Marquis.

Is it fair to say this year’s bench … is more diverse … more interchangeable, maybe more flexible, that allows you to do more things, get guys rest, all those kinds of things?

Well, it’s very similar to two years ago. It’s absolutely better than last year’s bench. I thought last year our bench was very young. This year’s bench has veterans. And again, they’re multidimensional, so you can put them in different spots. Very similar to two years ago when we had Posey playing the 2, 3 and the 4 spots, P.J. Brown playing the 4 and the 5 spots, Sam Cassell playing the 1 and the 2 spots. So, it’s similar to that team.

Will this be a wakeup call [for Glen Davis]? … Will that help in the process of teaching Big Baby?

I don’t know. Obviously, you hope so. Like I said last night, at this point with Baby, you’re over the disappointment. The way I look at things is, you do things and it happens and you have to mature. You preach it over and over again, and sometimes these things do help and sometimes they don’t. We’ve seen it happen before, and then someone repeat it. But having said that, he’s still part of your family. Like I told our players, “You can’t forget that.” And I told them, “As a father, your kids make mistakes. You’re angry at them at times. You have to punish them, you have to discipline them, you have to do whatever you have to do. Having said that, they’re still part of your family and you have to keep teaching them.” And that’s what Big Baby is. That’s the moment he is with our team right now. And that’s what you have to do. So, yeah, I hope it helps. It’s not the event that you would want to happen A lot of times, it’s one minute. It’s a five-second judgment that carries on for a while because you made the bad judgment in that split-second, and that’s part of maturity, too.

From the organization’s standpoint, was the anger and disappointment over the fact that he was out at 4 a.m., was it the fact that his designated driver was intoxicated, or was it the fact that he smacked his friend who smacked him first and he broke his thumb?

Well, if they had A, B, C or all of the above, I think you would just take all of the above. Just everything ‘€” the event, finding out about it, the whole thing was sad. It’s a great example that one mistake leads to the next mistake leads to the next one, and then things are spiraling out of control.

Will he be a different guy when he comes back?

I hope so. I don’t expect a guy to change overnight. He’s still young. He’s had a lot of great attention. That’s something you have to learn how to handle as well. I just want him to keep improving as a person. I don’t expect him to be a mature guy overnight. I just think it takes time with some, and he’s one of them. And we’ve just got to keep working on him.

Is [Rondo] a top-five point guard in the NBA?

I think he is. I think it fluctuates, obviously. Definitely top 10. Honestly, I don’t know who is in the top 10 when I say this. I’m biased because I coach him every day. I think he’s done a wonderful job this summer working on his weaknesses. … The regular season, he’s going to keep getting better. And then the big test for Rondo is during the playoffs, as you know, and how they defend him. But I think he’s better equipped now to handle that. I just love what he did. He put in hours a day working on that shot and working with Mark Price. And you can see the effects coming through right now.

Do you think you’re going to get a deal done with him by Saturday night?

I have no idea. Obviously, I think both sides are working to get that done. I think if it happens, it’s great. If it doesn’t, I don’t think it affects either side. Like I said before, I believe he’ll be a Celtic for life whether he gets this deal done by October 31st or not.

I saw one comment you made about decreasing the minutes of the older guys, trying to keep everyone healthy. Fans, some in the media think, “Hey, automatic, just play them less and everyone will stay healthy and everyone will be happy.” But it’s really not that simple. You’re job is not that simple, is it?

No. You have to be careful. Players need rhythm, and they need minutes. If you played them ‘€” I don’t know what the number is yet ‘€” let’s say 25 minutes a night, it would actually affect them the other way. People think, “Just play them 20 minutes and sit them down.” That sounds great, but that doesn’t work. You have to make sure you keep their rhythm, their timing through the season to get them ready for the playoffs. That’s what you have to do every night. With this group I think it should not be that hard. Because our bench is so good, I do think we’ll figure out what that [amount of playing time] is for each guy. Every individual is different. Garnett, for example, is a guy that if you limit his minutes to a low number it would really affect his play. So, he’s a guy we have to figure out what is the right amount of minutes for him.

Is the following statement overly simplistic or maybe just downright inaccurate? … For the most part, in close, competitive basketball games, Kendrick [Perkins] is going to start and Rasheed [Wallace] will be on the floor at the end.

Well, I think it is simplistic in some ways. And I really think it will depend on offense-defense situations. Obviously, If it’s a game where we think we can create a great offensive advantage and defensively we’re not going to get hurt, then you’re right. But there will be games where Perk will be on the floor because it’s one of those defensive games where we have to get stops. Let’s say, Orlando and Dwight Howard. It will be tough to take Perk off the floor in some of those. So, I really think it will depend on the night, and it will depend on the game.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Shaq is probably going to start slow in Cleveland because he doesn’t know the plays yet. Do all your players know the plays?

Well, I think they know the shell of the play. It’s intersting. Our playbook is huge. One play has 10 options  on it. So, for Kevin, Paul, Perk, the starting five … It’s funny, last night they came down and called a play from last year, that we have yet to put in. And Rasheed was sitting there, “What the hell is that?” And I said, “Don’t worry about it.” So, that group, yeah, they know everything, they know the timing, all of it. Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels, they know the shell but they’re still figuring out the timing. And that’s why when you see guys join other teams it does take a while. For bigs, it’s easier, obviously, because you know exactly where they’re going to be.

Is it feasible that Shaq might get in LeBron’s way?

No, I think that one is overplayed. Shaq, Dwight Howard ‘€” there are only about four centers in the league that you can’t help off of. You just can’t. Imagine LeBron driving, and Shaq’s guy goes to help. If you leave Shaq at the basket by himself, it’s an automatic two points. I think what may hurt them at times is Shaq and another ‘€” not [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas because he can spread the floor ‘€” but [Anderson] Varejao. Then you can help. So, I think it’s more of a combination than just Shaq.

Why is Ray Allen playing the most minutes in the first two games?

Last night was foul trouble. You always have to look at fouls. Marquis Daniels had three fouls. Paul had two fouls early, and Ray was the guy that was left on the floor. Most nights, if foul trouble is not a problem, Ray will be in that 30-minute mark. Ray may be the best-conditioned of the group as well.

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