|Doc Rivers goes extreme: Starts Jason Collins at center||12.19.12 at 7:37 pm ET|
After losing their third straight game Tuesday night in Chicago, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would continue to search for answers to shake his team out of its early season funk. On Wednesday, he followed through, replacing Courtney Lee in the starting lineup with Jason Terry, who got only two shots in Tuesday’s 100-89 loss in Chicago.
“Nothing more, until Avery [Avery Bradley] comes back,” Rivers said of the decision. “Jet just doesn’t get involved unless [Rajon Rondo] is on the floor. It has nothing to do with anybody else, it’s more to do with getting Jet more involved.”
In a more drastic measure, Rivers said Jason Collins would take over the starting center role from Kevin Garnett in order to move Garnett back to his more natural spot of big forward. The move would mean Brandon Bass would come off the bench. Bass has started 21 of Boston’s 24 games this season, including the last 16 straight.
“Just because of his size,” Rivers said in explaining the move for the 7-foot, 255-pound big man. “[Coaching staff] has been talking about it a lot but just haven’t done it. We’ve just been trying to find ways of getting Kevin off the ’5′ spot all game. Right now, even when we put the other guys in, the same [opposing players] are guarding him and the only way you can force the action is with Jason.”
If Rivers sticks with the new starting lineup, Celtics fans can expect to see Rondo and Terry in the backcourt until Avery Bradley returns in early January, with Garnett and Paul Pierce at the forward spots and Collins at center.
|Doc Rivers rolls the dice with Rajon Rondo and gets away with one||12.13.12 at 1:55 am ET|
The final box score Wednesday night reads that Rajon Rondo played 52 minutes, 30 seconds of the 58 minutes of Boston’s 117-115 double-overtime win over Dallas.
Doc Rivers said he could see Rondo’s minutes getting up there, especially toward the end of regulation and gambled by leaving him in the game, hoping the Celtics could hold onto their lead with four minutes left.
“Well I thought we started walking the ball up the floor,” Rivers said. “I thought our tempo changed in the fourth quarter. You know, it’s funny: they went small, we went small, you would think your tempo would increase. We actually went the other way. I thought the biggest mistake I made, actually, is keeping Rondo in that long.
“I thought I took the gamble, and sometimes it’s a good one sometimes it’s a bad one and I didn’t think this was a good one. I just thought he got tired. You know, I didn’t give them that normal rest two minutes before the fourth and let him get some rest. I mean obviously I didn’t anticipate a double overtime game. But I thought that had an impact on him and on his speed in the game. I told our guys with like four minutes left – my coaches, because then it was too late – I said, ‘This was not a good decision.’ And that decision could’ve hurt us.”
But it didn’t cost the Celtics – in part – because Rondo and the Celtics forced 28 turnovers against the Mavericks, leading to 34 points.
“Well, we’ve been trapping,” Rivers said. “I’ve been talking about it a lot and over the past seven games it’s been paying dividends for us. It’s been terrific. I told our guys, we also broke our own record with deflections. So we had – I don’t know what the number was now – but we had 100 deflections it felt like, we had 27 turnovers, because we couldn’t make a shot.
“You know, I didn’t like our shots that we got down the stretch. But overall we had a lot of good shots and they just wasn’t going in. So we won a game where a team shot 51 percent, and the other team, us, shot 43 percent. That was happening to us earlier in the year if you remember; we lost a couple games where it was the exact opposite. So, when you get more possessions like that, you give yourself a chance to win the game. I told the guys I was proud of them; I thought we made some mistakes that later in the year we can’t make down the stretch of games: the foul to give, didn’t call a time out, pass the ball so we couldn’t advance it before the first overtime. Those are plays that can’t happen. But through all those mistakes we still won the game, so as a coach we’ll take that.”
Kevin Garnett had 40 minutes himself in the marathon.
“He held up, and fortunately we are taking [Thursday] off,” Rivers said. “Whenever you have an 8 o’clock game you’re taking the day off anyway. So, you know, I don’t want that but it had to happen tonight.”
|Paul Pierce: Celtics 2OT win ‘just comes down to mental toughness’||12.13.12 at 1:39 am ET|
There were many times over the course of the two overtimes Wednesday night where Paul Pierce felt drained.
Five times in the final two minutes of regulation, the Celtics took the lead only to have the Mavericks respond with either O.J. Mayo or Darren Collison.
Pierce played 44 minutes and scored 34 points and led the charge in the second overtime as the Celtics finally put away the Mavericks, 117-115.
How did Pierce, at the age of 35, manage to dig deep as the game went past the three-hour mark?
“I think it just comes down to mental toughness,” Pierce said. “You get an edge out there,. You see the score go up, then you see a tie score, then the tendency is to get down, so you just have to really maintain a mental edge and just stay positive and know that you are gonna pull through. These types of long games, these types of marathon games can be really draining on you, I like the way we pulled through.”
“This is a good win, especially with the huge road trip coming up. Our defense was kind of up and down throughout most of the night, but the positive part is we turned them over. We allowed them to shoot a high percentage, it says a lot about how this team has grown when you can win games like this.”
Despite 44 minutes of action, Pierce said he felt energized because he could sense the kill.
“I felt good, I felt like this is our chance,” he said. “We didn’t want to let this one get away. Especially with a huge road trip coming up this is a big win for us. Dallas is one of those sneaky teams, you don’t really know what to expect from them night in and night out. They have so many good players, a lot of them that can beat you, a lot of them that can play well…For us to go double overtime and show some resiliency it was great.
“I’m caught into the game. When the game is tight, the type of game that was going on tonight I’m really caught up in the game, not really thinking about my minutes. That’s the coach, he’s watching the game, seeing the floor game, seeing how I’m playing, seeing how I’m defending. If he sees I’m still playing at a high level he’s going to leave me out there.”
|Doc Rivers: Expecting word on Avery Bradley||12.12.12 at 8:13 pm ET|
Before Wednesday’s game with the Mavericks, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers talks about his team playing better defense, Avery Bradley and Boston’s improved defense handing the high powered Mavericks. Rivers acknowledged that he expects to hear something on Bradley’s availability at practice soon.
Bradley told reporters before Wednesday’s game that his right shoulder is feeling better to the point where he can see practicing soon if he gets the go-ahead from trainer Ed Lacerte and the Celtics medical staff.
“I hope to start practicing next week,” Bradley said. “Shoulders feel strong.”
Bradley had his right shoulder repaired in July, two months after surgery on his left shoulder that ended his playoff season in the Eastern semifinals against Philadelphia.
“He’s shooting and running,” Rivers said. “He’s doing skeleton work with us on the floor. So my assumption is eventually someone will tell me something or [media] will. I’m open to either one. I really don’t know. I haven’t heard a projection and I haven’t asked so I really don’t know.”
Rivers also explained a bit of NBA procedural logistics that explained why Fab Melo (strained quadriceps) was recalled by the Celtics for a non-game day before being sent back out today to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.
“He was injured so the new [CBA] rules are that if you bring him back [from D-League for medical treatment], you have to activate him,” Rivers said. “We had to activate him because he was with us.”
|Doc Rivers has learned a lot from Bill Belichick||12.11.12 at 9:58 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers had a special chance to go inside the Patriots game preparation minutes before kickoff Monday night. He learned a lot from the invitation from Patriots coach Bill Belichick. On Tuesday, he was asked about his experience and was asked if anyone on his team compares to Tom Brady.
“Rondo is our Tom Brady, as far as being the point guard/quarterback,” Rivers said after Tuesday’s practice. “Kevin [Kevin Garnett] probably as far as all of the relationship stuff. Tom Brady has got to be right there [as one of the best in history]. It’s surgical watching him play. Then to have that, plus the relationship with [Belichick], I don’t know if there’s been a better great quarterback relationship with their coach ever. Bill Walsh and Joe Montana would be the only other one that comes to mind for me. That’s pretty neat. And they’re so different as people. That’s pretty cool.”
Rivers was on the sideline with Mark Wahlberg while Rondo was also in attendance wearing a Wes Welker jersey. Rivers took in the game from the suite belonging to Belichick and watched with Belichick’s girl friend Linda Holliday.
“I was there most of the game,” Rivers said. “I left in the middle of the fourth. I asked Linda could I leave now? Is it safe so it was. I love watching that team play. I was telling our guys that today. It’s just really awesome watching them execute, how professional they are. Every time I go to a Patriots game, I get so much out of it.
“I got to sit in their offensive gameplan meetings before they went out on the field. It’s just really cool. It’s a neat atmosphere. You can’t be around it enough, you really can’t.”
Rivers was amazed at the Patriots’ execution of their game plan.
“To me, their execution and how serious and how they prepare for it,” Rivers said. “Obviously, it’s different, they have one game to prepare for a week. It does make a big difference when we have five in a week, four in a week, it’s a little harder to do. Everybody knows their job and they do their job.
“It’s a neat atmosphere,” Rivers added. “Football [teams] in general [game plan weekly] but the Patriots do it on another level. Just the execution. Listening to what they said they wanted to do on offense before the game and then watching them actually do was pretty impressive.”
|Are the Celtics finally showing their true grit?||12.09.12 at 10:12 pm ET|
Before Saturday night’s game, Doug Collins told his team that Kevin Garnett had over 51,000 minutes played in his career while Paul Pierce had over 40,000. Collins’ counterpart, Doc Rivers, the ultimate motivator, spoke to the team and made sure Garnett got the message.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I don’t think anybody should be that tired this early, but Doug’s right about the one thing these games: you play each other, you split them. That’s basically what happened. But I hope we are. When you guys asked before the game – they’ve played a long time and so you’re hoping they have great mental toughness. I mean, if they don’t have anything else that’s what they should have, and they do.”
Garnett may not have had legs on back-to-back to games as he was held without a rebound for the first time since Jan. 21, 1997 but his shooting eye certainly was not impacted.
Garnett was 9-of-11 and finished with 19 points in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Sixers, 92-79, a night after spending lots of emotional energy in a 95-94 overtime loss.
Is Rivers worried about the dependence on Garnett?
“No, I mean, Miami depends on LeBron (James), the Lakers depend on Kobe (Bryant), Oklahoma depends on (Kevin) Durant, we depend on our guys. You’re always going to depend on them. I thought overall everyone else played great, though, and we had that one bad stretch. So, you know, it happens.”
To Rivers, toughness begins with defense and that’s the characteristic he’s starting to see game in and game out with the Celtics. The Celtics have allowed fewer than 100 points in six straight games, dating back to their overtime win in Orlando. In those games, the Celtics have gone
3-3 but they’ve started to show the kind of pressure that Rivers wants to see on the ball.
“It’s been great; it really has been,” Rivers said. “You know, we can’t string a streak of wins together yet, but you can feel us playing better. So you feel like it’s coming, just nothing’s happened. We’re treading water but I like our trend; I like where we’re going.
“The pick and roll defense has improved dramatically, but our rotation still is not there, but they’re much better. Our pressuring the ball, you know without Avery (Bradley), we just kind of backed off of that. So I know that’s an area we’re going to get way better. Because when he does it everyone does it and it helps your team. Right now it’s just hard to do.”
|Jeff Green thinks ‘things are turning the corner’||12.09.12 at 6:23 pm ET|
This is the Jeff Green every Celtics fan – and Green himself – has been waiting for.
In the last five games, Green has become the go-to guy off the bench, reaching double figures four times while averaging 16 points and 4.2 rebounds.
To top it all off, his long-range shot has been starting to fall much more consistently. He is shooting 54 percent from the field.
That’s a far cry from the 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds he was averaging in the previous 15 games. In that stretch, he was shooting just 40 percent from the floor.
“I just went through a slump,” Green said. “Every player goes through one. Now shots are going in for me; things are turning the corner.”
“It’s just about being more aggressive, getting the rim so I can get into a rhythm, offensively. Get easy looks and the other shots will start to fall.
What makes Doc Rivers so happy is that he isn’t being forced to draw up new plays to get Green good looks. They’re all coming from Green himself.
“I think Jeff is just freeing himself up,” Rivers said after Saturday’s 92-79 win over the Sixers, in which he scored 16 points in 23 minutes off the bench, converting 7-of-12 shots from the floor. “He’s starting to do it and it’s really been good.”
Finally, it looks like Green isn’t worried about meeting the expectations of a four-year, $36 million contract signed this summer.
The more he plays like Saturday, the more confident he gets. And when Green plays with confidence, he begins to fly all over the court. Green converted a pair of dunks, including a slam on a alley-oop from Rajon Rondo that put the Celtics up, 81-63 with 7:44 left in the game.
“I’m getting there. My bounce is getting there,” Green said. “It’s been a slow process but it’s coming along.”
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