Three point play: Time for Plan B
|11.29.10 at 4:25 pm ET|
Barely a month into the season, Doc Rivers is already seeing his plans go up in smoke. The hoped-for scenario, with all the accumulated talent on the roster, was to employ a 10-man rotation, almost in a platoon style. Now that Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West are out, Rivers is forced to scramble a bit. The Celtics are down to a dozen able-bodied players and three of them are rookies.
“You come into the year with one plan and you got to change the plan sometimes and that’s something we’re doing as a staff,” Rivers said after the team conducted practice Monday. “The 10-man thing is not going to work right now. I believe it’s really important for us to have one because that allows [the starters] to get rest.”
Rivers said the injuries will force him to sub differently and you may see him go to his bench earlier in an attempt to jumpstart the minutes rotation. At the same time, he’s reluctant to leave all of his starters on the bench at any one time without veterans like West and O’Neal to take charge of the second unit.
“I’m just going to have to sub differently,” Rivers said. “It’s not what I wanted to do. The way our starters play, logically, I’d rather extend their minutes together. It’s just not going to work out that way.”
Rajon Rondo is already logging 39 minutes a night and Ray Allen checks in at 38 per game. Allen, Paul Pierce (36 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (33) have all seen their playing time increase from the previous season. Garnett said the veterans are ready for it.
“Everybody on here they’re going to have to be extended, not just us three,” Garnett said. “Guys have to anticipate playing more minutes.”
One player who has suddenly found himself with an unexpected role is Von Wafer, who has seen the court in small doses. Wafer is ahead of rookie Avery Bradley because of his experience, and also his shooting ability. “Obviously we need Von more than Avery in some ways,” Rivers said. “We need the guy to play the 2-spot. Avery can help us.” As for his defense, Rivers said that Wafer is working on it.
West is scheduled to have surgery on his wrist Tuesday and the Celtics will have a better idea how long he will be out after the procedure is performed. As for Jermaine O’Neal, his status is still up in the air. Rivers said that he was out for all of this week and that’s as far as they were willing to look.
Everyone knew injuries would be a part of this year’s team and now it’s time for the first of what could be many Plan B’s.
More practice notes after the jump…
FOR RONDO, IT’S THE FOOT NOT THE HAMSTRING
The good news for Rajon Rondo is that the strained hamstring that kept him out of two games last week appears to be less of a problem. The bad news is that his foot problems, generally thought to be plantar fasciitis, is not getting any better and will probably be with him for the whole season.
“It still hurts,” he said. “Once my adrenaline gets going, it’s fine.”
Rondo indicated that he wants to play as many minutes as he can, but he seems resigned to the fact that he will have to play the rest of the season in pain.
RONDO LIKES WHAT HE SEES FROM BRADLEY
There is great hope that Bradley, the rookie from Texas, will become a significant player in the NBA some day, but with the injury situation that day may be sooner than anyone imagined. Bradley just turned 20 and after he missed the summer and most of training camp following ankle surgery, he’s having to catch up quickly.
While his time on the court has been limited, Rondo has been encouraged by Bradley’s willingness to listen and learn.
“He’s a great listener,” Rondo said. “That might not sound like much, but that’s big for a young guy coming in. He’s very humble. He works extremely hard. He’s going to be a great player in this league someday when he gets his opportunity. I always tell him to stay ready.”
Rondo has taken an active mentoring role in Bradley’s development. He often stays after practice to watch him play in 2-on-2 games and he’s trying not to over-burden the rookie with too much information.
“You don’t try to put too much in his head,” Rondo said. “You just try to let him learn for himself, but he can always ask me or Nate [Robinson] or coach Rivers, so he has some good guys in front of him who are willing to teach him learn the game.”
Like everyone else, Rondo has been impressed with Bradley’s defensive abilities. “He’s past me now probably on the pick and roll,” Rondo said. “He’s very physical. He’s a physical point guard. He gets through the picks, he gets up into you, he turns you, make you dribble with your back to the basket.”
CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM AND GLEN DAVIS
Glen Davis started the season by playing lights out. He quickly assumed the role of sixth man off the bench, something the Celtics haven’t really had since James Posey left. He’s playing both the four and five spots and averaging just a shade under 30 minutes a night.
He’s averaging a career-high in points (10.4), rebounds (4.8) and is shooting better (48 percent) than at any other time since his rookie season when he saw spot duty. He’s also become one of the NBA’s best at taking charges, which is an important skill for a team that lacks a true shot-blocking presence.
But his play dropped off during a five-game stretch when he shot just 12-for-38, with just one double-digit scoring game. He followed that up with an 18-point effort against the Raptors Friday, but as with every young player he is still searching for consistency, which Rivers duly noted.
“We need him to play better,” Rivers said. “If you look at his numbers, his numbers haven’t gone down, but his play has the last few games. Baby is really important to us. He’s got to get back to making the game simple. I think he’s falling into too much stuff over the last three or four games.”
Rivers has been hard on Davis over the years. He’s called him out in public more than probably anyone else on the team, and Davis hasn’t always taken the criticism well.
“It’s annoying sometimes,” Davis admitted. “Doc is Doc. He does what he wants to do, but it’s for the best.
“I might not come to grips with it but at the same time that’s just how it is,” Davis continued. “You can look at in a negative way, I might not perceive it the right way, but at the same time it’s a positive message.”
That constitutes progress of a sort because there have been times when Davis simply turned inward when criticism came his way. He has a chance to be one of the NBA’s best reserves, a player capable of changing any game with his energy and hustle in combination with his obvious skills.
But he still hasn’t put it all together yet, and until he does he will continue to hear it from his coach.