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Doc Rivers on D&C

01.07.10 at 12:24 pm ET

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning. He discussed Wednesday night’s dramatic victory over the Heat in overtime, the case for Rajon Rondo as an All-Star and the issue of guns in the NBA, which was highlighted by the indefinite suspension of Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas.

A transcript of the interview is below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

Where would last night’s victory rate?

Because of the way it finished it would rate high. Obviously there was a time where I thought we had it. Then it looked like we had lost it, and then we stole it back. Because of all that it ranks pretty high. Especially with all the guys coming back off of injury and still missing guys. There have been so many disruptions with our team right now, to have enough continuity to win a game has been great for all of our guys.

Was last night’s game all about overcoming human nature or giving into human nature?

I think so. They played hard on that last play. They did everything they were supposed to do. I was just happy with our guys, because when we called the timeout, it took me 15 seconds to get them in the huddle because they were so down. Once we drew up the play you could see them come back. They had the focus and just to execute the play and for it to work. Whenever anything works it looks great, because it takes so many moving parts for that stuff to happen. So, I thought we had good focus.

Have you used that play in the past and did it work?

We ran it once, might have been last year or two years ago, and it didn’€™t work. It worked to the point that Rondo was open and we threw the pass off the mark. It actually went into overtime. We work on that play occasionally, like once every 10 practices. Paul [Pierce] is the only guy that can make the pass, every time we use someone else it’€™s a bad pass. But it was good that all those guys were there.

What if there is less time than 0.6 seconds? Does it require all 0.6 seconds to get that up?

We’€™ve done it with 0.4 because it’€™s just a tap. Even at 0.3 you have a chance. Rondo is usually the best guy to do it, because he’€™s the guy that no one thinks you are going to do it with. That’€™s what we try to choose. Ray [Allen] is the other guy, surprisingly, because no one thinks you are going to throw a lob pass to Ray, either. So, it’€™s usually one of those two guys.

Paul has the hardest part of the job, right?

By far. The good thing with Paul, because he is such a threat as a player, they rarely put a big on him. A lot of time, like what we did in Golden State where we put the two bigs on the ball, teams don’€™t want to do that just in case there is enough time for Paul to come back and get the ball. They usually put his guy on him and that’€™s why we use him.

How do you call it in practice so the defense doesn’€™t know you are going to run that play?

We just disguise it. It’€™s the same play that you could run like 10 different ways and we just give it different formations. That’€™s what we do in practice.

Do you have a name for the play or is that drawn up during a timeout?

We did because we put guys in different spots. If you remember, [Brian Scalabrine] was on the floor, and he is usually not it. Usually Kevin [Garnett] is on the floor instead of [Glen Davis]. So you have to put different guys on, because when the game starts you don’€™t know who is going to be in. You don’€™t know if someone is going to foul out and you never know the situation.

Do you usually set screens and run guys off other guys in that situation. It seemed unusual that no one picked anybody.

That’€™s the old Pete Carrill stuff. Pete Carrill always believed if you run near everyone but never set a pick, that half-second delay gives you a second to get open. That’€™s all we did, if you watch that play there was not one pick set, it was just a bunch of guys running around each other and near each other. The biggest part of that play, if you look at it again, was Baby. Baby running out to the corner took Jermaine O’€™Neal with him. A lot of times in practice when it doesn’€™t work, Kevin will snuff it out if he is on the defensive side and he’€™ll make the play on the ball.

It’€™s really all about spacing?

No doubt, no doubt. And Ray is important. As long as you have Ray Allen on your team you know that wherever he runs someone is going to go.

I’€™m guessing Ray nominated Rondo or Pierce for the game ball?

He was very happy with the ending, the way it turned out. That was a tough play for Ray. I shouldn’€™t have put him in that spot I guess with Dwyane Wade. I actually have a rule with myself that you try to keep the best defender out of the play or out of any play. That play that Wade got the steal it was supposed to be a catch and pass for Ray and we were going to flare Dwyane Wade out of the action, but he still made a play anyway. It was a terrific play.

What causes runs? Good defense or poor offense?

It’€™s probably a combination. I thought last night when they made their run we stopped playing with motion on offense, everything was off the dribble, which allowed them to defend us. Then they made shots and attacked us on the glass, so I though that was the combination their for them.

Our run was purely defense. We scored every time but I thought we went one stretch when it looked like we got 10 to 12 stops in a row, and that was a defensive run.

Will you do any lobbying to get Rondo on the All-Star team?

I will. I think he is going to be on it but you never know in this league, obviously, so I’€™ll call everybody once it gets close to the time where they tell us that the coaches have to make votes. I’€™ll call for him and [Kendrick Perkins], and Ray. It seems that Paul and Kevin are automatically on it and then those other three guys I think you have to lobby for.

What makes Rondo a great point guard, and what makes him an entertaining one to watch?

It’€™s the flare. He enjoys the flare sometimes too much. But he does have it, it’€™s natural for him, it’€™s not anything forced. He makes great passes, he has great vision. Defensively he makes unbelievable steals and rebounds, so it’€™s entertaining to watch and he is a fun guy to watch. He has a great spirit and I think people see that.

Is it easier to coach Perk to be a tough shutdown defender or teach him how to control his emotions?

I would say that the anger and the emotions are tougher, because it’€™s natural for him. For him to be different we are asking him to be unnatural. Perk is emotional. He reacts quickly, not only to refs, but to anything. So it’€™s been very difficult thus far, and we haven’€™t done a very good job of it. I think he is getting better over the last couple of games but we have to keep him going. The looks that he gives officials at times are unbelievable.

Does he apologize after those emotional outbursts?

Every time, he’€™ll say, ‘€œMy fault, coach.’€ Even yesterday he made a gesture and ran around with the ball and I took him out and he said, ‘€œI’€™m going to get better, it’€™s my fault, coach.’€ So he knows it’€™s a conscious thought and he’€™s trying to get better at it and he’€™s working on it.

Rasheed doesn’€™t apologize, does he?

It’€™s funny, he actually does sometimes. The funny thing with Rasheed is after he has one of these blowouts and he doesn’€™t get a technical, which sometimes is amazing that he doesn’€™t get one. I’€™ll say, “Rasheed, watch yourself,” and he’€™ll say, ‘€œDon’t worry, I’€™m not going to get a tech.’€

In light of the Gilbert Arenas situation, have you had to deal with a player goofing off during halftime or having off-court issues like that?

No I haven’€™t. Not with this group. We had that one group that were very difficult, without naming names you guys can throw all the names out you want. I tell you [Wizards coach] Flip Saunders is a terrific coach and he’€™s had to go through a lot, and you don’€™t’€™ wish that on anyone.

Do you think that athletes will learn from this issue? If they void Arenas’€™ contract do you think that will be a wake-up call for every player in the NBA?

It would be, but you know there are going to be other guys along the road that do silly things. It’€™s the way it is, but there will be some who learn, there’€™s no doubt about it. You turn that negative into a positive and there are some guys that will learn. The two lessons here are that guns and all that are awful. Also, when you make a mistake apologize immediately, and show that you feel bad about it instead of the way that Gilbert went. I think those are the two lessons.

Why the fascination with the gun culture in the league?

I don’€™t want to say in the league, because I think football has a bigger problem with it. I just think in sports or in general that I’€™m not a gun guy. My dad was a cop and he always said that there are more people that get hurt by owning guns then who don’€™t, and he knew that. I don’€™t think it is a form of protection. I think it actually brings more harm. I just don’€™t get it, I’€™ve told my players that. Some guys believe in it and it’€™s a right, so there is nothing you can do about it.

Is it easier when the ‘€œcrazy’€ player is a bench player and not your superstar?

Yeah, it is easier. Whenever me and [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] used to talk years ago when we were struggling and the Spurs were rolling, he would say, ‘€œWhen your best player is your leader then everyone else falls in line. When your best player is the ‘crazy’ one then you are going to have some problems.’€ That’€™s the problem in Washington, because when your best player is the one doing the crazy things then it’€™s tough to lead everybody else.

Arenas is going to lose $147,000 a game and I wondered what’€™s the most money you made in a year?

My last year, because I got two contracts, one from the Knicks and one from the Spurs. It equaled a little over a $1 million. We were laughing last night, because in my first year I made $65,000.

You’€™re highest year came in 1995-96, how did it get like this?

It really isn’t that long ago how quickly things exploded. I’€™m happy for all the players that it happened for. But when you are losing that much money I don’€™t know. I know you guys are making the big money on radio.

Is it a healthy thing that guys are making that kind of money today?

I don’€™t know if it’€™s healthy or not. There are guys on our team who terrific. Kevin Garnett being one, who couldn’€™t be a better role model for our league. Paul as well and Ray, but I just think it all depends on who gets it. If the right guy gets it, the great player the great person it’€™s always good. But I don’€™t care how much you make, when you’€™re losing that much money it has to have an impact.

Does the league make it clear at the beginning of the season what the rules are? Are all of your guys made aware that guns aren’€™t at the arena or league sponsored event?

Yeah they are and the league does a terrific job. They have at least two and I might say four different times, where they bring league representatives they come in and it’€™s a good two to three hour meeting. They talk about drugs, about guns, conduct, about finances, so they get the education. There are no excuses why you don’€™t know.

Were you ever suspended in your career?

I was, for fighting [in 1993 vs. Suns guard] Kevin Johnson, that whole fight. Danny [Ainge] was part of that, actually. That’€™s the only time.

Ainge was a part of every fight.

He is, he’€™s involved.

How many games?

For two games. I tried to take a bite out of Danny’€™s finger but I never got an opportunity to do that like Tree [Rollins].

In Dominique [Wilkins’] last year, he played for the Magic, for the whole year he made $250,000. That’€™s like a game and a half for Gilbert Arenas.

It’€™s amazing. When you go back just 10 years like you guys are doing, it’€™s amazing the difference.

You’re doing OK as a coach, right?

I make more than I ever did as a player, that’s for sure. I should have retired earlier.

The EchoStor Technologies Coach’€™s Question of the Week, from Jason on Facebook: We all know what is lost by not having KG in the lineup, but what do you gain by having Rasheed starting?

This is what you gain: rhythm and conditioning. I said it yesterday, it may be a blessing in disguise, Kevin is getting rest, which is always good for him. Rasheed playing the minutes that he’s playing is getting him in great shape. But more importantly, it’€™s pushing his progress along as far as learning the continuity, the timing and the feel with all the different players on our team. So, I think it actually in some ways could benefit us.

Read More: Doc Rivers, gilbert arenas, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
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