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Doc Rivers on Dennis & Callahan

01.21.10 at 10:49 am ET

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the guys on Dennis & Callahan to talk about Wednesday night’s loss to the Pistons, chemistry issues and Glen Davisverbal altercation with a fan last night.

Earlier in the year, it might have been tough to find things to work on in practice. It’s probably not so tough now, right?

No, it never really is, even when you’re playing well. It’s not a big difference. When you’re playing well there’s things that you see as a coach and when you’re playing poorly there’s obvious things that everyone sees.

Let’s deal with the obvious ones. What bothers you the most?

The turnovers worry me the most because a lot of them were forced. A lot of them were because of bad execution. Those are things we can fix. The switching and the zones, things you don’t see a lot, we should be able to handle it. We’ve dealt with that all year but we haven’t seen it lately so that’s something we’ll go over as well. That’s something Portland does as well, with their size.

Who’s in charge of getting your guys set when a team switches from man to zone? Is it the point guard?

It’s the point guard but even when he does it if guys don’t go the right spots… I thought [Rajon] Rondo handled it very well. I just thought guys as a group we did. There was a lot of standing around. [Wednesday] was a case a lot like the game before [against Dallas], where we came out in the second half, you could see it, we built a big lead and got comfortable again. Then you turn on a team and it’s tough to turn them off.

What’s the biggest thing for a coach? Is it X’s and O’s or is it chemistry and motivation?

Motivation is always harder. The average person might think you should never have to motivate a person, but it’s not that simple. It’s getting them going that day. The chemistry thing is always a challenge. Every game. Every moment. People forget their roles. People doing different things, trying to do too much at times instead of doing their jobs. X’s and O’s are easy. They’re pretty much black and white. You see what you need to fix and you fix that. It’s all the other things. If you don’t fix the other things the X’s and O’s don’t work because you don’t get guys to function in the right way.

Does this team have a chemistry problem? Is that one of the reasons for this slide?

No, I don’t. I think at times it’s not a chemistry problem, it’s more a focus problem. I said that earlier in the year and I identified that two weeks into the season, will never be X’s and O’s with this team. It will never be basketball IQ. It will be being bored with the process. That happens right now.

Is one of the issues, everything will be better when Kevin Garnett returns?

Early on we didn’t. Whenever you struggle, it’s human nature, you start looking at who’s not there and once they get there things will be OK. I never buy into that and I don’t buy into that now.

Jets center Nick Mangold said that the reason they’re winning games is because of the closeness of the locker room. Does that apply in the NBA?

It’s absolute and there’s no doubt about that. You can still win games without that, but you’ll never be the winner. During the course of a year, NBA teams go in and out with that. In football and baseball it’s probably the same thing but definitely in basketball. That happens. It goes in and out. The teams that become the winners and the teams that become the ultimate winner is the team where each guy is playing for the ultimate goal and no individual agendas and nothing else. That happens throughout the year.

Is it harder to get that point across in January then it is in April?

It’s the process of working through it that gets you there. It is more difficult [now.] I think every coach in the NBA will tell you that the most difficult time to sell that [is January] because you have the All-Star game coming up. Every individual player has dreams of being an All-Star and it’s easy to get sidetracked from that goal.

You talked about letting a team back in the game, was [Austin] Daye’s 3-pointer at the end of the first half the ignition point?

Yeah it was. Absolutely.

You didn’t look happy coming off the floor.

No. It was so preventable. We just laid back and allowed the guy to bring the ball all the way up the floor and get the shot off. That game goes from an 11-point game that we made a run to close the half to an 8-point game and them going into the locker room feeling like they’re back in it. I said that at halftime.

Is Rodney Stuckey really that good or did he just have a great game against you?

He’s a good player, but he had a great game against us. He did it all. he played hard, he defended, rebounded, made shots, set other people up. He’s a good player but we made him look like a great player.

Is it true you didn’t have one second-chance basket?


That’s true?


For the entire game?

For the entire game.

What’s the reason for that?

We’re not big believers in crashing the glass. We always say that on the release of the shot, get back, unless you’re under the basket. Our bigs should always go to the offensive glass. They’re free to go to that glass. Our guards should always get back. Last night obviously no one went to the glass.

Was Glen Davis making progress, and is what he did last night a big step back?

Yeah, it is a big deal. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that it had transpired. I didn’t know until after the game, when you talk to the press pool and it was brought up, and you could see it was a big deal to the press. I still don’t have the clear picture on it. I’m assuming whoever watched the game heard it, and very clear. I didn’t even know that. I never watch the game, when I watch film, with sound. But that stuff can’t happen. I always say, ‘To the victors go the spoils,’ if you know what I’m saying. If the other team is winning and the fans are on you, that’s part of it. We’ve been taught you have to take it and you have to keep playing. I don’t think it’s a huge step backwards, but it is a step backwards, and Glen Davis has to grow up.

For all the obvious reasons with lawsuits and injuries and all the things that can happen when someone goes after someone in the stands, is there a line that someone in the stands can cross where you say, ‘OK, I understand.’

No. I can see every once in a while you turn around and say something to a fan and in Baby’s case, maybe that was it, but never grabbing or holding. But when you think about it they’re words. I’ve heard some vile things said to me, said to our players, it’s amazing what you hear. You should turn around, point to security, and have them deal with it. When you think about it ‘€” and I’m bringing it up because it was two days ago, Martin Luther King’s birthday ‘€” just think what he heard, and how many times he turned his cheek. If he can do that, why can’t we do that, on a basketball court. You’re not going to win that battle. Let somebody else fight it for you.

Did you hear the guy last night?

No. Detroit has a history, as you guys know, very tough crowd. And it’s always been. They are top three, toughest crowd that you deal with, every time you go there. But I didn’t hear it, so I don’t know what was said.

You had heard Leon the Barber. It always bugged me when people made him out to be some kind of charming cult hero. He was vulgar. He would drop F bombs with kids around.

It was. Some of those things he said were funny, but some of them were awful. But, I would take Leon right now over what is said in their crowd and in a lot of crowds.

Is there an NBA policy in terms of security dealing with fans?

I don’t know if there’s a policy, but it’s almost common sense. When a fan is yelling stuff and is offending people around him then the guy will be removed. Usually if a player points to security then there’s a chance that person is going to get removed.

Big Baby could have done that?

Yeah, he could have. Again, in Baby’s defense I didn’t hear what the guy was saying. I didn’t hear Baby, so it’s too bad that it happens.

Did you ever cross the line saying something to a guy and afterward think, why did I do that?

I don’t remember. I’ve been in a couple of fights as a player and when you get in the locker room you feel awful about it later. I’m sure walking out someone might have said something and I might have said something back. In the good old days, though, that was acceptable.

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