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Rivers on D&C: ‘We have done nothing’

05.20.10 at 12:47 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about closing out the series against Orlando and raising the intensity level on defense.

‘€œThere’€™s nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself, but having said that, we still have a lot of work to do, guys,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œOur goal was not to win two games in the series, our goal was to try to win the series.’€

Rivers also touched on LeBron James‘€™ pending decision on where to play in the offseason.

‘€œI just think if you’€™re going to go somewhere, go where it’€™s the best fit for you to win as quickly as possible, and there are some interesting situations,’€ Rivers said.

Below is a transcript. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to hear the interview.

You gave your guys the day off yesterday and I’€™m sure before you parted company you had some words of advice for them. What was the advice you gave them?

Well, not yesterday, but the day before was humility. And we have done nothing, we’€™ve won two games. We just have to keep working and keep playing.

But you know what human nature is right and you know what they’€™re hearing from all their friends and family?

Yea, that’€™s why when you go home and hear how great you are. There’€™s nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself, but having said that, we still have a lot of work to do, guys. Our goal was not to win two games in the series, our goal was to try to win the series. We just have a lot of work to do, Orlando won both games at our place this year.

Do you think it will be Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen], or Tony [Allen] covering Kobe [Bryant]?

I’€™m so far off of [the Lakers] because again, I know how good Orlando is and how good they were going into this series. We played two exceptional games. I was happier with Game 2 than Game 1 because I felt we took one of their better shots. We’€™re going to take a big one in Game 3 as well. They’€™re thinking that they’€™ve been up here twice and won, you can say they’€™ve won the last three times they’€™ve been in our building, so they’€™re probably feeling pretty comfortable.

How does your team keep up the level of intensity on defense when other teams know they have to do that and can’€™t seem to do it?

Well it’€™s something we work on all year though. We establish early on and obviously all year we improve that. We’€™re trying to do that and that is a defensive team. We want to be that. That’€™s who we are, we understand as a group that’€™s who we are. I think if you have offensive tendencies let’€™s say as a team and things go wrong, you tend to lean on your offense. Well, we’€™re the exact opposite and our guys believe that.

Why doesn’€™t, for example, Phoenix play defense?

Well, they do, I mean they try to, at least. Last night, the Lakers were sensational, I’€™ll just say that. But they have been an offensive basketball team. They’€™ve been a great offensive basketball team, an up and down the floor team. They try to get as many shots as they can in a game and sometimes that’€™s almost encouraging the other team to play at that speed as well. When you shoot as quickly as Phoenix, even if you are a great defensive team, you’€™re going to give up more points. Some of it is that they’€™re not a great defensive team, but some of it is the quickness of their shots.

Are effort, intensity, and coaching the main components of good defense?

Yeah, I mean, you’€™ve got to have some talented defensive players as well. If you have all bad defensive players, you can be good but you can’€™t be a great defensive team. I think it’€™s toughness, I think it’€™s energy, but I also think it takes a complete player to be unselfish. I think defense is so unselfish in a lot of ways. When you’€™re helping off of your guy, you’€™re not concerned with your guy. I’€™ve seen teams with five great individual defensive players, and that wouldn’€™t be a great defensive team because no one wants to help. They’€™re so concerned about their man scoring and you have to be a great team defense to win.

Were the final months of the regular season a conscious decision by you and your staff to just concentrate on getting healthy, monitor the minutes, and hopefully that switch would be flipped when the playoffs rolled around? If the answer to that is yes, were you sure it was going to work?

I’€™ll go backwards on that, I was not sure, obviously, because you just don’€™t know. It was a conscious effort the last month, but before that we were struggling, too, guys. We were struggling from basically the day after Christmas. That had a lot to do with injuries and then when everybody got returned back, we just couldn’€™t find our rhythm.

When we came into the last month of the season, you could look at the records and could see we were not going to catch Cleveland and were not going to catch Orlando. We may be able to hold on to the No. 3 seed, but if we do that then were going to use guys. The bottom line is, we need help, and from that point on, that’€™s how we played out the season. You knew one thing: Unhealthy, we were not going to win. I didn’€™t know if healthy if we would win or not, I just knew it would give us a chance.

Do you change or tweak anything this week getting ready for Saturday or do you just look your guys in the eye and say ‘€œmore of the same, please?’€

We do change some things. Defensively, the dribble penetration is starting to hurt us. Decrease in Game 1, it really hurt us in Game 2, so we have to solve that and do a better job of that. Offensively, we had two bad fourth quarters. The first three quarters of Game 2, you couldn’€™t script it better. The ball was moving, everybody was involved, everyone was scoring, we had Paul going. Then give Orlando credit, they tightened down, both teams did and that’€™s what happens in the fourth quarter of games, you get slower. But we have to be more efficient.

If you are the defensive specialist on the other team’€™s staff, where do you begin your defensive concentration on the Boston Celtics?

I think the two areas are [Rajon] Rondo and [Kevin Garnett]. Rondo because he has the ball, KG because he is a post player. Then Paul would be the next guy because Paul is the one guy on our team capable of going off for a big number. That would scare you every time you play them.

You have four or five real clutch players. Who would you say is the most clutch?

It’€™s interesting, that’€™s a tough question. I would say Paul and Ray [Allen] because they’€™re the ones getting the ball in their hands at the end of most games. But really all of them have turned out that way. Rondo, where a year ago you didn’€™t even want him handling the ball down the stretch of a game because you were worried about him going to the foul line and things like that. Now he can facilitate our offense to give the ball to the right guys and that’€™s giving us a huge bonus, something we haven’€™t had over the last two years.

When Vince Carter missed those two free throws, when J.J. Redick called that boneheaded timeout, we all said the next day, ‘€œThat’€™s not going to happen to the Celtics, they don’€™t have guys like that.’€ Are we giving you too much credit?

Yeah, you are, because it can happen. It’€™s just a human game. I would love to think that. If you ask 1 through 15 on our team, we talk about execution every single day. Having said that guys, you just never know. You think about last year in Chicago, we came out of a timeout, we said five times, ‘€œWe’€™re going to foul, we’€™re going to foul, we’€™re fouling.’€ Then we forgot to foul on the floor and Ben Gordon got the three. It happens, it just kills you when it does happen. J.J. Redick is one of the smarter players in the league, so it happened to him. It’€™s just an emotional game and sometimes you can’€™t control it.

Would you be unhappy if Rasheed [Wallace], Baby [Glen Davis], and [Kendrick] Perkins didn’€™t use most of their 18 fouls?

I want them to just be solid defensively, now if they have to use the fouls to do that, I’€™m fine with that, I’€™ll put it that way. We have enough to use. It’€™s dangerous though guys, when you style for Orlando, especially early in the fourth quarter, Orlando was in the penalty with about eight minutes left. The rest of their guys really do shoot their free throws well. We have to be real careful with wasting fouls early in quarters and putting them in the penalty too early.

Was there not an occurrence where [Dwight] Howard had the ball underneath and Baby just let him go up and dunk. He only ended up with three fouls. My guess is you would prefer Baby to take a fourth one on that play?

Yea we had a couple of those. Both games, even in Game 1 where Howard had that dunk late in the game where he double pumped. That should have been a foul. Those are the ones where you know he has two points, you want to put him at the line. When he’€™s 10 feet away from the basket and we’€™re getting bumping fouls, those are the ones we want to avoid.

In the middle of the game, Matt Barnes helped up Rondo. Did you notice it, and if it had been the other way around would you have had a problem with it?

I didn’€™t notice it, and it’€™s always in the context of how it happened. Honestly guys, I didn’€™t see it. I guess the old school way, when I played for [Pat Riley], when you helped a guy off the floor it was a $1,000 dollar fine. So that kind of ingrained in everyone not to help anyone up. But I’€™ve helped people up before, sometimes you help them up because you think you’€™re going to get a flagrant. You reach down quickly. So I think it always depends on the situation.

Did you see Marquis Daniels‘€™ stepdad getting tased, and did anyone help him up?

No, that’€™s sad to hear. Obviously I don’€™t have a lot of comments about it, but it’€™s a tough situation and I feel awful for Marquis because he has to deal with that.

Is not complaining about a call part of working a ref? If a complaint is not legitimate, then you lose credibility as a player. Is there any validity to that?

The validity is that you’€™re not going to posture a ref. The thing that everyone does, especially coaches, when you know they’€™re doing something, you would say after the game, ‘€œPlease look at it on film.’€ I mean, I don’€™t think people understand what our officials do after games. They have to break down the game play by play, exactly like the coaches do. Then they’€™re graded on it, so they’€™re up just as late as us. Then they’€™ll see it, when that mistake is there. They’€™ve heard you say, ‘€œThe guy is traveling,’€ and he is traveling, then that goes a long way.

How many lane violations are there on free throws percentage-wise?

I would say probably 50 percent of the time, that’€™s a tough one. The rule is when the ball leaves his hand. I think a lot of people think the rule is when the ball hits the rim and it’€™s not. It’€™s all a timing thing. You know what happens a lot of times it’€™s the middle guy. If he goes in first then the inside guys says ‘€œshoot, I have to go in now.’€ So it’€™s an effect. In Game 1, I thought [Marcin] Gortat went in early, which led to Jameer Nelson’€™s tip-in. He took his guy with him, but it is a tough call to call.

Rasheed just focused on Gortat and Jameer said, ‘€œThank you very much,’€ and went in for the lay in.

Yeah, it was the perfect miss, too. It was a play that they ran, but the miss had to be perfect.

Is this team better than the 2008 version of the Boston Celtics?

Well I don’€™t know that. That’€™s something we’€™ll have to wait to see. Kevin, Paul and Ray are two years removed, two years older with injuries. So I don’€™t know if that’€™s true or not, but let’€™s wait and find out, that’€™s the way I look at it.

Who wearing a Magic uniform scares you the most besides Howard?

Jameer Nelson always worries me because I really do think when he plays well, that usually means Howard plays well and someone else. So he’€™s the biggest concern, he was probably the biggest concern we had going into the series, even over Howard because he’€™s their heart and soul.

What would happen if [Stan] Van Gundy employed the three guys on one defense, similar to the way you’€™re putting three guys on Howard and using up fouls?

It would take Jameer out of the game, so I would be all for it, that’€™s the way I look at it. We have enough guys at that position that we can afford to do it. At the point guard position, that would be difficult to do.

Do Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels complain at all about playing time?

Well, they did earlier, and you want them to. I would rather have a guy that’€™s unhappy about sitting than happy. But they understand what’€™s good for the team and that’€™s a decision we make all the time. Sometimes you have to play a guy because of that, but overall, our guys are pretty good with that. They’€™re not happy, they’€™re not thrilled with sitting on the bench, but they do their jobs and I give them a lot of credit. Nate, especially, who has played all the time, comes here now and he had all the promise and is not playing. Marquis has been as professional as any guy you could ever want in this situation. He is going to be a free agent, he has a lot riding on him playing and he’€™s been fantastic.

Did you say sometimes you have to play them because they want to?

Well, sometimes I think you play them for the good of the team and for the good of them in the regular season. Because I’€™m thinking over the long haul we’€™re going to need him and we’€™ve got to keep his rhythm. That’€™s what you do in the regular season. In the playoffs, it’€™s all about that moment and you don’€™t worry about it as much. But during the regular season, absolutely. You know at some point, Marquis and Nate were going to play and had to play because you played more guys. You definitely wanted to be conscious of putting them in games.

I’€™m guessing [Brian] Scalabrine came to you and said, ‘€œCoach I have six fouls and I will use them all.’€

Scal is pro, he really is. I was happy to see him in a uniform the other night, he’€™s just the best. If you’€™re going to have a guy on your bench, his name should be Brian Scalabrine because he’€™s phenomenal.

What is the philosophy of shortening the rotation in the playoffs? Is it just as simple as giving more playing time to your best guys?

It’€™s that simple. You want to maximize their time, you never want to be left, for the most part, with all five subs on the floor at the same time. You can do it as well because there’€™s not as many games, there’€™s less travel, and guys get more rest.

Can it ever burn you if you need them in a particular situation but they haven’€™t stood up for weeks?

It could, we always worry about that. That’€™s why after practice we really work with the other guys. I tell them, I keep telling Nate in particular, there will be a game somewhere in these playoffs that were going to need him and he’€™s going to win a game for us. We don’€™t know when that game is, but he has to stay ready.

Who does bed check and makes sure guys are behaving on the road?

We don’€™t have a bed check, thank goodness. That’€™s only in football, I think they do curfews and bed checks. In the NBA and in baseball, there’€™s really no curfew, there’€™s trust. I always tell my guys, ‘€œIf I have to worry about what you’€™re doing at night the night before a playoff game, then we have the wrong guy.’€

Do you worry when you go home and they stay in the hotel?

No, I don’€™t. I don’€™t worry about our guys at all, we have a pretty good group.

If you’€™re LeBron James, what factors will make you decide where you play the next portion of your career?

Boy, that’€™s a tough question. I think the factors of happiness and winning and that’€™s it. I don’€™t think financially he has to worry about anything and I think we all know that. But I do think he’€™ll look at the best situation. I’€™m for everybody always staying, unless we’€™re trying to get him. I just think if you’€™re going to go somewhere, go where it’€™s the best fit for you to win as quickly as possible and there are some interesting situations.

Do you think for a second that he would consider the fact that if he went to Chicago, he would have to win six championships before they stop comparing him to Michael Jordan?

No, because I don’€™t think it matters where he goes. If you’€™re the top player in our league now you’€™re compared to Michael. I mean Kobe plays in [Los Angeles] and every time I hear Kobe it’€™s Michael. I just think that’€™s the burden of being the best player in our league now because you have to be compared to Michael Jordan. And by the way that’€™s not a bad guy to be compared to if you’€™re going to be compared to someone, that’€™s pretty good.

Is it more or less likely you spend time with your family next year and not coach the Celtics if you win a championship this year?

Oh, I don’€™t think it matters one way or the other. I just don’€™t even think about it much and wait until the middle of the summer and my kids who tell me to get out of here.

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