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Doc Rivers on D & C

12.17.09 at 10:44 am ET
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Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about what the Celtics still need to do better, whether he holds his breath when Kevin Garnett goes up for an alley-oop and which teams in the East give the Celtics the most trouble. Doc also tells the guys how good Rajon Rondo has been this year.

Is this a good time for a break or would you rather keep playing?

It’s the way our schedule has worked out. We’ve had a couple of these and done pretty well with these so far, so we’ll see.

Steve Kerr said that no one will ever break the 1995-96 Bulls record of 72-10, do you agree with that and do you want to do it?

I would love to do it, if you had a team that’s 12 deep and all that. I don’t think you should ever not do it, if you have an opportunity to do it. As long as you’re not taxing your guys. Having said that, I agree with Steve Kerr. I can’t see anyone ever breaking that. People forget that year that they actually had one game where they were up by 18 against Dallas and the second unit came in and lost the lead and Phil Jackson refused to put the starters back in. They lost that game and could have had one more win.

If you did break that record, does that mean that you would have to win the championship, or you would go down as one of the greatest postseason disappointments?

When you do that, obviously, you’ve proven that for the regular season that you’re the best team. Where I think it’s different than football — one game can upset you. You can also get a bad matchup in basketball that can affect you. Having said that, if you win 72 games you’re probably going to win it. Most likely.

You watch [Rajon] Rondo and [Kevin Garnett] do an alley-oop and you hold your breath hoping that he doesn’t land on someone’s foot. Do you do that as the coach?

No, I did early on. I don’t anymore. I think Kevin’s fine. Early on in the first couple of weeks of the season, and even in preseason especially, whenever he left his feet I was his concerned. Now that’s all gone. They have it down pretty well, obviously, so I have no problem with it.

When your team is playing this well, do you have to invent things to get on the team about?

No, because there’s always something. The old saying that the film doesn’t lie, there’s always things that you can work on, on both ends of the floor. Right now, we’re like seventh or eighth in field goal percentage defensively and number one in points. And offensively, we’re number one in field goal percentage and our turnovers are down. You look at that and you think there’s nothing [to work on]. But there’s always something and our guys know it. The best part of this team compared to the team last year is this team knows we have to get better. That’s a great sign for our team.

Do you think you have the best defensive team?

We’re working on it. There’s things we have to do better. We have to guard the ball better in front of us. The reason we’ve given up so many offensive rebounds is partly due to the dribble penetration and that’s something that has hurt us, especially against quicker teams. Atlanta beat us off the dribble. Phoenix beat us off the dribble. Orlando beat us off the dribble and it led to points, it led to 3’s and it led to the offensive rebounds. We have to control these things.

You’ve talked to us before about frustration with Rondo. He can be a stubborn guy. Are those days over?

There’s always frustration with every player as a coach, but as far as him being stubborn and all that stuff, that’s gone. He’s been terrific. He’s extremely coachable. What’s happened because of that he’s become one of the leaders of the team. In the past, he was the point guard and the players played with him. Now they’re playing for him, and now he leads them and they want to be led by him because his example that he’s set has been terrific.

What team in the East causes you the most problems in terms of matchups?

I would say Orlando and Atlanta. Cleveland might be the best of the group, but Orlando and Atlanta both play small, they’re athletic and they have great shooting. They cause us the most problems.

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