Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show for his final weekly visit of the 2009-10 season. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Rivers said he has not decided whether or not he will return to the Celtics next season. “I’m not going to say which way I’m leaning ‘ and I am one way ‘ but I could look you in the eye and tell you I haven’t decided,” he said.
Rivers said he did not discuss the matter with his family during Father’s Day Sunday. “We didn’t talk about it at all, really,” he said. “It’s still very difficult to get through Game 7, let alone talk about your future, to be honest.”
Rivers said the players have been encouraging him to return, which makes him feel great but embarrassed to be in the spotlight. That type of support is the main reason why he would consider returning. Said Rivers, “The only reason you stay is your love for the guys you coach … knowing that if you do leave, you’re not going to get that back.”
Rasheed Wallace, like Rivers, is considering leaving the game. Rivers said he expects we’ve seen the last of the controversial center. “I think you have,” he said. “It’s so emotional right after the game. But Rasheed told me before [Game 7]. He told me the the night before. He walked up to me and said, ‘Hey, listen, I’m going to give you everything I’ve got. I really believe this is my last game that I’m going to play.’ And he said this year was very difficult for him physically. He never felt like ‘ even the conditioning part of it hurt. He said he doesn’t think he wants to go through that again, and he wants to watch his kids. I do think it’s the last time we’ll see him in a Celtics uniform.”
Rivers said he’s watched some video of the fourth quarter of Game 7. “I’ve looked at some of it but I couldn’t watch it [all],” he said. “It’s still very difficult.”
The coach said one thing he might have done differently is to get Rondo some rest at the start of the fourth. “I think I should have given Rondo another blow,” Rivers said. “I thought he was tired. I thought he played that way in the fourth. And that was a tough one, because he was starting to play well at the end of the third, so it was tough to pull him out.”
Rivers also said he wished the team would have attacked the post more, although he noted that some post plays were called, and Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace both were tiring. “You could just feel that we were running out of gas,” he said.
Rivers also said the referees’ more frequent whistles down the stretch were an adjustment the Celtics did not handle well. “The whole fourth quarter, it was called tighter,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that after watching [the video]. That hurt us a lot. … It was just a free throw line parade. That’s the one line you can’t defend.”
Rivers also credited Ron Artest as the key to the Lakers’ comeback. “We didn’t defend him the way we should have defended him,” he said. “I thought Ron Artest was the difference in that game.”