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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m a Celtic … for as long as I’m coaching’

12.02.10 at 11:56 am ET

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss some of the most “Heat”ed topics around the NBA and in the Celtics organization. Rivers commented on LeBron James‘ return to Cleveland, Kevin Garnett receiving stitches on his chin, and the C’s win on Wednesday against the Blazers.

“When Ray [Allen] was open, I liked the odds,” Rivers said. “I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I never really panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul [Pierce]. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.”

To hear the entire interview with Doc, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Was last night a prime example of which of the following two things (talking about the end of the game): your team’s ability to trust one another, or a great NBA shooter has no conscience whatsoever?

Probably both; I mean really both. The play before that, Ray took a tough shot. Really the play was to get a switch, which we got, and Ray was going to throw it to the post, but Ray thought he was open and jacked it up. You know what, that’s why he’s a great player: because he can go 0 for whatever or one for whatever, and if he’s open he thinks that next shot should go in, and then on the other part of that, Paul Pierce was, what, 9 for 11, and actually had a decent shot, and passed it to Ray who was wide open. So that’s the trust factor.

When that play was about to unfold, and Paul had the option to shoot it or pass it, as the coach which did you prefer he do?

Well when Ray was open, I liked the odds. I just think Ray’s got to make shots. I really never panic when Ray’s missing shots, or Paul. I just know they’re great shooters, and great shooters make shots, and eventually they do. They have that occasional game where they miss them all, but I still like the odds whenever [Ray] takes a shot.

When Danny Ainge took Big Baby in the second round a few years ago, did you know that he was this good? Or did you think it was a stretch at the time?

I can say I was very involved; I kept yelling “Baby!” because I have kids who play, and know these guys, you know, my oldest son. I actually watched Baby a lot, so I just kept hearing about his feet; Leo Papile was a big guy in Baby’s corner as well, so that was real with me. I usually really try to allow Danny to draft because, you watch it, Danny works harder than anybody I know on the draft. When we’re not, we’re not thinking anybody, but we all liked him. We didn’t know he was going to be this.

Tommy Heinsohn always mentions that he has a pretty high basketball IQ. He’s a pretty smart player, isn’t he?

Yeah, I do think, I mean he’s a very smart player. He has a great instinct. But you’re right, I do think people do get lost in all the other stuff that comes with Baby. You think about it, a lot of that is all peripheral, a lot of it is off the floor. On the floor he does his job, and then this year he does his job better and better each game.

Who is better at their individual talent sealing at this point in their careers, Rondo or Big Baby?

Oh, that’s a good one. I would say probably Baby. Rondo still has a shot that he has to improve, and if he improves it, and it doesn’t have to be a lot, al you have to do is become a consistent elbow jump-shooter, consistent free-thrower. He’d take his game to a level we haven’t seen in a long time.

When Rondo and Baby are both done with their careers, which will be the more apt analogy: Rondo to Cousy or Baby to Charles Barkley?

Wow, I’m going to say Rondo to Cousy. It’s different though because of Rondo’s speed, I mean, Rondo, he’s a different player than Cousy, but let’s just say, Cousy goes down as one of the great Celtics of all time, and I think if Rondo continues to  do what he’s doing, he should be in that class, too.

Last night your son was only about seven miles away playing at BC. Was there a thought that ‘If I had walked away, like everyone thought I was going to do, I could be sitting court side watching my kid every night?’ Watching all of your kids every night?

Oh yeah, there’s no doubt that that goes on. Last night was probably, you know, Jeremiah and I had a great lunch and got to sit around and eat and talk. So yeah, that goes on in your mind, there’s no doubt about that. Especially last night with that way that, Tom Crean tried to do me a favor and schedule a game in Boston, and he said, ‘Man, I tell you, I got the days mixed up,’ and we’re doing it on the same day we play.

We all predicted you’d get double technicals by the second quarter and you would be there for the second half like you did in Chicago when you got tossed and went and had dinner with your mother.

Yeah, I did that, and I also got tossed by [Tim] Donaghy four minutes into a game, and I got to watch the final round of the Masters.

I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but Miami is in Cleveland tonight.

You know, I’ve heard about that; I’ve heard a lot about it the other night when we were in Cleveland, so there’s been a lot of talk about it.

Do you look at Erik Spoelstra and say ‘I could handle that. I could make that work’?

As far as Miami, or as far as LeBron?

Miami in general. It seems to be a struggle so far for Spoelstra.

Well, it’s always been a struggle, but I think, and I’m very confident and I actually hope I’m wrong if you want me to be honest, it will work, and Erik’s going to make it work, and I have no doubt about that. I think, you know, they started out slow, no one knew how they were going to start off; I didn’t know. It just takes time, but they’re too talented. They want to make it work, and that’s where I think people have been wrong. You keep hearing the stuff, all this bickering, and didn’t want to make it work, they’ve just got to figure it out, and they will. We just hope it takes a while since I’m on the other side.

Maybe you’ve heard by now, but the way some stories have been running, it sounds like Pat Riley wants Spoelstra to hold up until next year and then have Doc Rivers coach the Heat next season. Any thoughts about that?

No, I really don’t have any thoughts about that. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a Celtic and I plan on being that for a long time, as long as I’m coaching.

Why does it take so long for three very talented NBA stars like James, Wade and Bosh to learn to play together?

Well, I think a better analogy is the Olympics. I think the All-Star team is a bad one, because the other team doesn’t play any defense in the All-Star game. Both teams are very cooperative as far as letting each other score. But the Olympics, when you think about it guys, we struggle over the years in the Olympics, because we haven’t had a lot of time together. It just takes time, and what I found with our group when we first had it, it’s the stars that take time. The role players are the role players; they’re always going to be role players, if you know what I’m saying. The stars almost collide, in some ways, to be role players. And instead of being who they are, they’re not worried about getting in each other’s way. And it just takes time for each guy to get their rhythm. You know at some point the shooter’s going to get it, you know they’re going to roll off a long screen and win at some point, and they’re going to be a team that will pass Orlando, Chicago and Atlanta. We’re going to have to deal with it, we know that.

I know you probably haven’t decided about next year yet, but do you think you’re going to wait until the 11th hour again? Will we spend six months speculating on what Doc’s going to do next season?

Well I hope not, but I don’t know. I mean, honestly, I can tell you I’ve given it zero thought. I was asked about it a couple of times yesterday, because I don’t know where this thing came from. Other than that, I don’t think about it much at all. Danny and I are as close as you can be, and so I just don’t even think about it. I’m just doing my job, and I’m going to get through my job.

Off topic: is Kevin Garnett even surlier with five stitches in his chin?

He was last night, I can tell you that. I don’t know if you noticed when he walked back in, it was comical. He wanted to walk right to the scorer’s table, and he was mumbling, and I don’t even want to know what he was saying. So, I like it when he’s like that; it’s good, that’s what we miss.

It looked like he was in a hurry to get to the locker room, but he didn’t come back out for a while, and you were complaining how long it took him to get back. Maybe he wanted novocain and let it all take affect before they stitched him up.

I just thought we were on the road. You know, I was kidding at that, I said ‘what’s going on back there?’ I mean, it’s amazing. I kept looking at Eddie Lacerte like, ‘what are they doing back there?’ Because, you know, it does happen on the road guys. I was joking, but it’s happened to me as a player, when you’re on the road and you get cut, the opposing doctor can’t find his sutures or takes his time, because they want you off the floor.

Does he get novocain before the needles go in?

I think they do. It’s not in the old days where they just stitch you up.

Based on what we expect he will face tonight in Cleveland, how do you think LeBron’s performance will be? About average, below average, or will being back in his hometown inspire him to do great things?

I think it’ll be a rally and they’ll play as a whole team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dwyane Wade have an off-the-charts night, but I think LeBron will play well. Players get through this stuff. Once you get on the floor, it becomes white noise at some point early on, and it may have that affect. But I think as the game goes on, LeBron will have a big game.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James
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