|Transcript: Rivers on D&C||04.15.10 at 12:45 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning. Following is a transcript. To listen, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Most coaches like to talk about how hot they are heading into the playoffs. But the Celtics have lost seven of 10, not exactly on a roll?
Yeah, and I don’t know if I’ve ever even used that. You want to have good rhythm and all that, but the playoffs are a new season, they’ve always been a new season, and that’s how you have to view them going in. You could have won 10 games in a row as we did two years ago, we were hot going in, and went into a seven-game series against Atlanta. So, it means a lot to say, but it is a new season.
David Stern isn’t pleased with coaches resting their players heading into then playoffs, is he?
I get that. I agree with part of that, more from the fans standpoint, families that come to games. There were families last night, I guess, who came to their first game ever. And to see Kevin [Garnett] and Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] and everyone else, and they get there and they don’t play — that would be disappointing if I was a fan, that would be tough. But then, it’s the same fan who understands that listen — we want them to do well in the playoffs, we want them to be rested, we want them to be healthy. And, if that last game doesn’t have a lot of meaning, as a coach you have to do what’s best for the team and the whole picture. So it is a very tough situation. I was injured in the last game of the year as a player, and that will always stick with me.
Could you imagine if Paul had ruined his knee last night? They would have killed you.
Oh, last night, it wasn’t funny but it was funny. It was seven minutes left, and I had Oliver Lafayette at the table going in for [Rajon] Rondo, and there was no play stoppage. I couldn’t get the play to stop — it was one of those stretches where the game kept going on, and then finally I yelled out to Nate [Robinson], “Foul! Foul somebody!” And then [Brian Scalabrine] fouled, so Rondo comes in and on the next possession, Nate fouls. And he looks at me, “You told me to foul!” Rondo’s already out!
We know why KG, Paul, Ray and Kendrick Perkins didn’t play — but why did Rondo still play? Why take the risk with Rondo?
Well, he really wanted to play. He’s young enough to play, and he came to me. He said, coach, I really struggled against Chicago, I really want to play this game. And I understand that.
Plus, all those families get to tell their grandchildren that they got to see Oliver Lafayette play a game.
He actually played really well, I think the kid has a future in the league. I thought he played terrific. … For a guy that didn’t know one set, he played pretty comfortable.
There was a column about the Celtics locker room by Gary Washburn, stating that it’s “fractured.” Is that accurate?
No. But that’s Gary. It’s not. There’s clearly groups that hang out with each other more than other groups, but why does that have to be negative? It’s ridiculous. I mean, why does that have to be negative — because Ray, Paul, Kevin and Rasheed [Wallace] go out together to dinner, that means there’s a fracture? I mean, Come on, guys, that’s just silly talk, and a guy just looking for something. Usually you hang out with your age group, it’s no different than that. Usually you hang out with guys that personality-wise, that you match. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale didn’t go out together, so I guess they didn’t like each other. That’s just silly. That’s looking for stuff and stirring the pot. I don’t mind when guys have opinions. I do mind when guys opinions are trying to separate.
But you said the four old guys seem to be a social group, Washburn has Rasheed having his own click.
He hangs out with all of them, really. Marquis [Daniels] is in that group, Marquis and Rasheed do hang out together a lot. Nate hangs out with [Glen Davis], and Rondo and Perk. I see them go out all the time, it’s just so silly, this kind of talk. Obviously, I didn’t read the article, but that’s the type of stuff as a coach you get so irritated with, because it’s not fact based and it’s silly.
Is it fact-based to say you’re thinking of taking a break after this year?
Yeah, but it would have been fact-based three years ago too, and last year and the year before. Every year I go through the same thing and this year I’m at the same place I was two years ago. I sit back after the season, and you guys probably understand this, you can’t make a decision, any kind — a good one — when you’re in the middle of stuff. I try not to give it a lot of thought because of that.
I assume a lot of your decision will be based on family ties and your discussions with the family. Is any of it based on the playoffs?
No, I’ll tell you, I love it here. I can’t get a better situation. I work with a GM in Danny [Ainge] and owners who allow me to do what I do, and there’s no interruption in that. You can’t get that in a lot of places in the league, and when you get a good job and when you have a, not a good relationship, a great relationship with your GM in Danny Ainge, that’s tough to break. Because you know, if you did leave and ever came back, the chances of getting that part back — the player part back — that part back, would be difficult. And then the other part is my relationship with the players, it would be tough to get that back too.
Players always say they never want to make a decision based on the aches and pains — are you tired here in April?
Oh, yeah, this is a tough season in that way. But I’m fresh, I’m really looking forward to this journey. The regular-season journey was difficult, it was emotional, it was up and down, it was frustrating at times, it was good at times, too. We did have a great stretch to start the season, and we had a couple of good wins along the way, but this is what we’re looking for.
I believe there were 11 teams that won as many or more games than the Celtics. Do you feel like it was a successful regular season?
I don’t know what that is. I said that when we won 62 games, you don’t get a trophy for the regular season. You do for the playoff season. And in that way, we felt — in that point we feel we would have loved to have gotten one or two. That was one of our goals to reach and we didn’t reach that goal, so in that way that was unsuccessful.
Do you like that nobody thinks you can make it past the second round?
Well I don’t know that. I don’t read it. You can use it, but at the end of the day, if that’s what it’s going to take to get our guys to play, then you’re probably in trouble.
I said something this morning, that if you’re going to win the NBA championship, the Celtics are going to have to get past the Cavs. Doesn’t it make sense to get rid of them in the second round, with an older team, rather than later?
Well, since we’re in the fourth seed, let’s go ahead with that theory, I think it’s a terrific theory. First we have to get past Miami, and that’s got to be our focus. Logically speaking, though, I’d say you’re right.
Resting Perk — In the old days, coaches would have just shaken the player and said “Don’t get another technical!”
And he would have gotten another tech. Emotional players are emotional players, and they can get shaken up and spanked, or whatever you want to do, they’re still going to be emotional players. The thing with not playing him was not only just not trusting him, but what happens in the middle of the game, a guy hits him on the head with an elbow, they get into an argument, and they give a double tech. That’s the new thing in our league, instead of giving a tech to the guy that started it, it’s easier to give a double tech, and we just can’t take that chance.
What is it going to take for you guys to get past Miami?
We are going to try to contain Dwyane [Wade], but it’s going to be difficult. I mean, he’s a great player, and if it were easy to contain great players, they wouldn’t be great players. But I think what they’ve done really well is incorporate other guys into their scoring scheme. Michael Beasley is a pure scorer. He’ll be one of the league-leading scorers some day, so he’s a tough matchup because he’s that 3-4 type of 4 if you know what I’m saying, and Jermaine O’Neal has had one of his best year in probably five years, so they do have guys you have to worry about. Obviously Wade is going to be our focus, but we have to stop the other guys.
Is there a first round series that if you weren’t a coach, you’d pay money to see? My guess is it isn’t Cleveland-Chicago.
I am intrigued because Derrick Rose is in that series, he gives them a fighting chance. Obviously I think the Charlotte-Orlando series could be a difficult series for Orlando, in my opinion is playing better than everybody in the entire league, them and Phoenix. And you can pick them in the West — I would say the 2-7 seed in the West should be a very interesting series with San Antonio [vs. Dallas].
I know you probably don’t want to think about this right now, but what would it take for you to walk away right now?
I don’t know, it will be emotional — it will be something where you just kind of let your emotions die down and you think things through. We’ll have a couple of family discussions, it won’t be one discussion, and we’ll just make the call. And that’s how it’s gone every year. By midsummer you kind of just sit around and you think, What do you want to do? The family is the big pull, there’s no doubt about that.
Do you see yourself coaching as long as Don Nelson, who’s 70?
Well, if I’m healthy enough, I would love to. I will say there will be a “Walk away and come back,” there’s no doubt about that, just because I think it’s healthy to do that. Especially with your family and my family being so young. But yeah, if I’m healthy enough to coach that long, I would love to do so because I love coaching.
Do you think any of your players would play a roll in this decision? A few of them speaking out already — does that make a difference?
Yeah, it does. Without naming names, several came into the office before the game, because that article kind of took them by surprise. And we had a very good talk — I’ll leave it at that. And it was very heartwarming and nice to hear your players say things like that about you, so that’s a good thing, obviously. And that’s part of it — you do have an emotional attachment to a lot of the guys here, and that’s part of the reason I’m here.
How much does your message change to your team? Does it at all?
Yeah, it does. The urgency word is used a lot more, obviously, because one game can swing a series. Not only one game, but one possession. You know, I tell the guys all the time, if you look back into that Cleveland series two years ago, I felt the biggest play in that game was the jump ball, and LeBron had inside position and he didn’t box Paul, and Paul slipped through, dove on the ground and got the ball — and that’s one possession. And the playoffs have become a one-possession basketball game, and that will be preached far more.
How do you now feel about Nate Robinson in your playoff rotation?
You know, as an X-factor, he’s very — he’s right now going to be in the everyday rotation, but you never know. Foul trouble — a great example, maybe the perfect example in how we will use Nate was the Milwaukee game, in Milwaukee. Rondo got off to a sluggish start, we took Rondo off very early, we put Nate in, Nate came in and played terrific for us, and then we went back to our normal rotation. But that was big for us. He’s going to have a game — and I really believe this — that is going to help us win a game.