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Doc Rivers on D+C

11.12.09 at 10:21 am ET

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about Wednesday night’s win over Utah, the importance of practice and what he looks for in the box score.

At what point in a game like Wednesday night do you and the coaching staff start smoking the Red Auerbach cigar?

Rivers: A lot of times the young guys get on the floor and you’re trying to help them improve. There may be a point in a season where you need a Lester Hudson on the floor. So you never stop [coaching]

What about when Kevin Garnett goes up on two defenders on an alley-oop, in a blowout, do you hold your breath like everyone else? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about health?

No I don’t. I can’t worry about that. They’re healthy. Everyone’s healthy. Kevin’s 100 percent healthy and his game’s just going to keep getting better. So you don’t worry about that. You just worry about minutes and the minutes have been great this year. That’s the only thing you actually have any [control over], along with the gameplan.

What is it that you miss by not practicing. Is it physical? Is it mental?

I think you have slippage. When you play a lot of games and you don’t have a lot of time to adjust to some of the things that you’re slipping in, it just goes further. The discipline in that is execution offensively and defensively.

We did it at both ends last night, and that’s clearly a couple of things. Number one, they’re more rested and that’s both physically and mentally. But the most important thing is their execution. When you play eight games in 12 days you don’t have time to work on things and you lose a lot. You could see it in that game last night. Early on, one of my assistants, Kevin Eastman said, ‘It’s amazing what a couple of practices can do.’

What things specifically were you dissatisfied with a 7-1 record?

The discipline, our pick and roll coverage had been slipping. Our transition D had been slipping. We didn’t close out the corner 3’s, and we’ve been giving up a ton of corner 3’s in the games before that. Offensively, really timing. Timing on the second and third options. I thought we were getting impatient offensively and taking quick, uncontested shots. We did a better job last night making the extra pass that led to the assist.

Are there nights and games, because of the schedule, where both sides kind of know how they’re going to play out?

There have been many nights where you think, ‘This will be a tough night for us,’ and you dig down and pull it out. I can tell you looking at the schedule, the last few games, I knew would be all difficult games for us, and it didn’t matter who the opponent would be. You just knew because of the amount of games that these would be difficult games. But you do really never know. Sometimes you get rest and you come out flat, so you just don’t know.

It looked early like you knew it was going to be your night and not Utah’s

I can say last night early on just from the movement of our legs that they were going to have to play very well to beat us. That doesn’t mean they can’t, and obviously they didn’t which was good for us. But you did feel good about yourself early in that game you did feel god about your team.

Does Rasheed [Wallace] have the green light to shoot the 3-pointer any time he wants?

It’s in the context of the offense, but I tell him and Eddie [House] every time they’re open to shoot it. Don’t hesitate. I’ll be the guy  that will pull them back. Early on last night you could see Rasheed pass up a couple to get to the second option, which is something we want him to do. But we want him looking for it. We don’t want him thinking about shooting [too much.]

I assume Ray Allen has the green light too?

Yes. They’re great shooters. Shoot it.

Do you know who the third-leading rebounder is on your club? Shelden Williams.

I’ll tell you Shelden, he’s been absolutely wonderful. Obviously when he scores points everyone sees that, but what they don’t see is all the little things. He has so much to learn, honestly. If there’s anyone behind as far as our scheme it would be Shelden. He’s probably picked up about half of it. That’s the good part. You know when he really gets it all, he’ll be a really good fit for our team.

Jerry Sloan’s been with Utah for 22 years, do you think you’ll have as long a run here?

Uh, no. I don’t. [Laughs]. I’d love to but that’s such a long time. I would have to do this show for 22 years. I don’t know guys. I don’t know if I could hang in there that long.

Do you have a number in mind, years that you want to do this?

No I don’t. Every time I go home and I have to make the decision if I want to do it again, it has nothing to do with basketball. For me, at least right now, because my kids are relatively young it will always be about that.

Does it take years off your life?

I don’t know if it’s healthy for me or not, but I love it. If you’re doing something you love, no matter what the stress level is, I don’t know if it can be unhealthy for you. I’ll put it that way.

There was a show that had Bobby Knight with Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Knight’s on a golf course kicking back and there’s Krzyzewski uptight looking tense getting ready for a game. I’m thinking that’s the difference between a coach and a retired coach.

I saw that same thing. Looking at the background and Bobby Knight looking as relaxed as he was, I’m thinking, ‘Well, that’s an interesting look.’ It’s the same thing with the president. They go in, they look pretty good. They go out they look pretty haggard.

Do you need the adrenaline rush? You were a TV guy making a lot of money, you were good at it, why do you need to coach?

Because you love it. You love teaching and you love being in the fray. I did enjoy TV. But after the games you just went and ate [dinner]. It was amazing. Al Michaels used to say it after the games. He’d say, ‘Look at these guys Doc. they look like they’ve been in a boxing match.’ I was thinking, ‘Man isn’t that great?’

What do you look for in the box score?

Field goal percentage for us is misleading because we count open shots. You do glance it, but we have our own stat on field goal percentage because it counts as open shots. Offensively, we know that is we miss 10 wide open shots we’re not upset by that. Obviously we want them to go in, but we know on average they will go in. It’s the same thing defensively. We’ve had games where the other team shot 41 percent and we look at the film and look at our own adjusted field goal percentage and we don’t like the game anymore.

Rebounding, turnovers and assists: those numbers don’t lie. That’s a number we always look at. Defensively, besides field goal percentage, we look at deflections, which they don’t put on the stat sheet. That’s really important. If our deflections are up, usually that means that we’re really active.

What’s the tipping point for turnovers?

Right now it’s 14 for us. Because we’re trying to run a little more we figure they’ll be up. But if we can average 14 turnovers I can live with that.

Is rebounds a hard number, or the difference between the number you get and the number they get?

It’s a hard number because if you shoot well from the field and the other team shoots poorly, the other team is going to have more offensive rebounds because they have more opportunities. It’s an interesting number to look at, but the first thing we look at is defensive rebounds. Any time  we get offensive rebounds, it’s a good thing.

How many guys in the league can go baseline to baseline with 3.8 seconds and score?

I don’t know if anyone can go baseline to baseline. But there’s very few. Devin Harris, [Rajon] Rondo, [Derrick] Rose and the kid in Milwaukee [Brandon Jennings]. Other than that there’s not a lot of them.

Did you try to push it and try to score?

We put all guards on the floor. The best time to do that is when a big is shooting a free throw and it’s four seconds or less, you can’t sub that  big out. In college you can call a timeout, in the pros you can’t. We do that a lot. We put five guards on the floor and see if we can get it up the floor and score.

Rondo caught it on the run, and once he catches it on the run like that, you feel pretty good that you’re going to get a good shot.

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