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Doc Rivers: ‘You’re angry when you think about it because you love your city’ 04.16.13 at 12:08 pm ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

WALTHAM — Instead of playing a game Tuesday night, the Celtics held practice and reacted to Monday’s Boston Marathon tragedy.

Among those most affected was Jeff Green. The Celtics player, like his coach, live in Boston and very close to the epicenter of Monday’s two explosions on Boylston Street near the finish line.

Green said before Tuesday’s practice that he understood completely the NBA’s decision to cancel Tuesday’s home game against the Pacers at the Garden.

“Everybody has got to be safe,” Green said. “I think it was right to cancel the game out of respect for the families affected.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers also lives in the Back Bay. He was headed into Boston after Monday’s practice in Waltham to watch the Marathon. He said

“I always go down after practice and watch [the Boston Marathon]. I was on my way,” Rivers said. “I had gotten out of the [Prudential] tunnel when the bomb exploded.

“I thought the spirit of Boston was incredible last night. If you’re part of the city, this country, it’s going to be on your mind. This city has an amazing amount spirit. You’re angry, too, when you think about it because you love your city. That bothers you.”

The game against the Pacers was canceled and will not be rescheduled. The Celtics will finish their 81-game schedule on Wednesday night in Toronto and then open the first round of the playoffs this weekend in New York’s Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘This is the time of year where you really want your team together’ 04.11.13 at 10:55 am ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and discussed Wednesday night’s loss to the Nets, the team field trip to view the movie “42,” and Louisville’s victory over Michigan in the NCAA championship game.

With their most recent loss, the C’s are nearly locked into the No. 7 seed for the playoffs, and will most likely be taking on the Knicks. Though his team’s fate is all but sealed, Rivers said he thinks the last few regular-season games are very important.

“It’s interesting because you’re still concerned about a couple of guys’ rests,” Rivers said. “It’s tough to accomplish things when you’re looking for that. But as far as our practices and our shootarounds, we’re working extremely hard right now on our rhythm, and I think we’re starting to get that.”

In the C’s 101-93 loss to Brooklyn, they did not attempt a single free throw in the first half and were outscored from the line 25-13 for the game.

“I don’t think the officials had anything to do with that,” Rivers said. “I thought there was one play where Jeff Green drove, I thought it was his only drive in the first half, and I thought he got fouled on a shooting foul and didn’t get [the call]. Other than that, it was us. I’ve always said it, that the aggressor gets the calls. It’s human nature and I thought the Nets were attacking and attacking and we didn’t.”

On one of the team’s recent off days, Rivers decided to take his team to a pre-screening of the movie “42.” The film, which is about the life of Jackie Robinson, is being released in North America on Friday.

“They enjoyed it,” Rivers said. “I thought it was a really neat movie. I thought a lot of guys, you could just see their interest in it, so it was a good thing.”

Added Rivers of his reasoning behind the experience: “I didn’t think we should practice, No. 1. But I thought we should be together. I think this is the time of year where you really want your team together as much as possible, just with each other. I didn’t know if it would be motivational, but I thought it would just be learning, it’s a learning experience.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc Rivers: ‘Obviously, we want to play Miami’ just not early in playoffs at 12:15 am ET
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Five days earlier, after a loss to the Cavaliers at TD Garden, Doc Rivers said, “Of course we would… I’m not that dumb” when asked if the Celtics would like to avoid the defending champs who have raced through the NBA this season, on the way to the league’s best mark.

But after Wednesday’s loss to the Nets, he made a clarifying statement when informed that Milwaukee lost, reducing Boston’s magic number to 1 for clinching seventh-seed and not finishing eighth, which would result in a first-round meeting with Miami.

“That’s good,” Rivers said. “Obviously, we want to play Miami. We do. We just would not like to play them early. I mean, we would love to avoid Miami in the first round and then play them; that would mean we’re doing very well. So, we clearly want to play Miami. We just want to delay it a little bit if we can.”

Now that it appears all but certain the Celtics (40-38) will finish in seventh place in the Eastern conference, they will likely draw the Knicks in the first round. The Celtics playoff spot was all but locked in at seventh Wednesday night when they lost to the Brooklyn Nets at home but the Milwaukee Bucks (37-41) also lost on the road in Orlando. The Bucks and Celtics each have four games remaining.

Atlanta (44-36) moved two games ahead of Boston in the loss column for sixth place with a win in Philadelphia.

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Doc Rivers: ‘We need to have as much versatility as possible going into the playoffs’ 04.10.13 at 8:59 pm ET
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To Doc Rivers, the key to playoff success will be outmaneuvering his opponent. Given the fact that he’s going to be facing either the Knicks or Pacers in the first round, he’s going to need as many options as possible.

Thus, with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green finding their rhythm heading into the playoffs, this gives Rivers and his staff another bullet in the holster.

“I like the ability to have that lineup and other lineups instead of just having this ‘small lineup’ with Jeff at the 4,” Rivers said. “We want to have three lineups – Jeff at the 2, Jeff at the 3, Jeff at the 4. Or if you want to call Paul the 2, I don’t care who you call the 2. I just think it gives us more versatility.

Wednesday against the Nets, Rivers featured the lineup (Pierce, Green, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley) that’s likely going to start the playoffs, of course barring another in an seemingly unending avalanche of injuries.

“This lineup is good,” Rivers said. “It’s important because it gives us a third lineup, because there’s one lineup we can’t go to, and that’s the very big lineup, like two 7-footers. We’re not going to be able to do that. We need to have as much versatility as possible going into the playoffs to play multiple styles.”

Before Wednesday at the Garden, the Celtics and Nets hadn’t met since Boston’s cakewalk on Christmas Day when the Celtics beat the Nets, 93-76. A game later, Avery Johnson was fired and PJ Carlesimo was promoted to head coach. The Nets are 31-18 since. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why the buddy system is ‘huge’ for Doc Rivers at 12:37 pm ET
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Randy Wittman has always been a helpful resource to Doc Rivers. (AP)

Randy Wittman has always been a helpful resource to Doc Rivers. (AP)

WALTHAM — Doc Rivers isn’t just one of the most personable coaches among fans and media, he’s one of the most likable among his fellow NBA head coaches.

And that – as it turns out – has its rewards.

As the playoffs near, Rivers has been tapping into that network of coaches for some inside intel. But Rivers isn’t looking for advance scouting tips on his opponents; he’s looking for what other coaches see in the Celtics.

Rivers was asked Tuesday at practice what he thought of teams like Cleveland and Washington defending Paul Pierce and Jeff Green with smaller, quicker guards.

“That won’t last,” Rivers predicted. “I think teams will go back and forth on it. And they did even in the game the other night [vs. Washington]. They started out small, went big and then went back to small. I think teams are trying to figure out which way they would guard them.”

Why is that? All Rivers had to do was ask longtime friend and former Atlanta teammate Randy Wittman, now the coach of the Wizards.

“It’s nice when you play, honestly, a team that’s not in the playoffs and talk to the coach after the game. I asked what their reasoning [is] for choosing one or the other. It’s been interesting the comments I’ve gotten back.”

What kind of information?

“Good information,” Rivers smiled. “They’ve always helped, and they’re open for the most part,” Rivers said of his postgame chats with the coaches. “They’re not going to tell you their secrets but they’re going to tell you some of their thoughts so they’re helpful.”

It’s not just Wittman, either. On the current four-game homestand that ends against Brooklyn, the Celtics have played Detroit [Lawrence Frank], Cleveland [Byron Scott] and Washington [Wittman]. All three teams will be home in two weeks when the playoffs begin. And all three have head coaches with direct ties to Rivers.

“That’s huge because otherwise, I wouldn’t ask, to be honest,” Rivers said. “So, if you have a relationship with a coach, it helps. And there’s also a lot of coaches not coaching right now that you talk to a lot. You even ask them, ‘Who would you guard or how would you attack?’ It’s good getting somebody outside of us because they see us entirely different than we see ourselves.”

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Doc Rivers compares gay NBA player coming out to Jackie Robinson, and other practice notes 04.09.13 at 1:53 pm ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

WALTHAM — Sometimes movies imitate real life. And sometimes, it’s the other way around.

With news last week that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would welcome an openly gay player on his team and the coming out announcement by Magic Johnson‘s son, the subject has been a topic of discussion.

Doc Rivers was asked before Tuesday’s practice about the potential impact on the NBA if a player came out as openly gay. Rivers drew a comparison to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball and major professional sports in 1947.

“There’ll be a lot of talk about it and then I think it will go away,” Rivers said. “It’s [interesting]. As a team, I took the team to see ’42′ [on Monday]. There was a lot of talk and then all of a sudden, everybody starts playing. And I think the same thing will happen. So, that’s the way I look at it.”

Rivers also said there was much about the movie that reminded him of the ‘Ubuntu’ concept he brought in during the 2008 championship season.

“It was really good. It was fantastic,” Rivers said. “It was a great team message. It’s funny, you think race, but, really, it was more of a team message, when players on the Brooklyn Dodgers accepted Jackie. And a lot of it was because he was their teammate. Actually, one of the guys said that, he said, ‘What do you expect? I’m your teammate.’ And I just thought that was really a cool honor.”

Rivers was asked if his players knew the historical impact and the story behind Robinson’s MLB debut and breaking the color barrier.

“Yeah, I think a lot of players know the history,” Rivers said. “Some may not have, I don’t know that. But I always go by — I thought guys were at their full attention throughout the movie, and engaged, which I thought was really cool.”

Other practice notes:

  • Rivers said he has a plan in place for resting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, both of whom participated in practice on Tuesday, prior to Wednesday’s game with Brooklyn.

    “Obviously, we have to take care of our position,” Rivers said. “But, for Kevin, rest is always important, and Paul as well. But, other than that, we’ve thought about (resting them), we’ve talked about it.”

  • University of Louisville product Terrence Williams celebrated his alma mater’s third national championship on Monday night by wearing a Cardinals jersey at practice.
  • Jared Sullinger, two months removed season-ending back surgery, was back on the practice court on Tuesday. But Sullinger was taking it easy. He was shooting free throws and working with assistant coaches before observing practice. Sullinger is expected to be ready for the starting of training camp in September.
  • Speaking of college, University of Miami Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga was at Celtics practice visiting with his son Jay, who is an assistant on Doc Rivers’ staff. Larranaga spent time talking to the coaching staff and Rivers as well before practice began.
  • There are too many lines for the next item. Rivers was asked if he heard the hilarious story of Cleveland Indians manager and good friend Terry Francona getting lost on his two-minute walk to Cleveland’s Progressive Field Monday for the Indians’ home opener.

    “Yeah, that’s a sad, sad thing,” Rivers laughed. “I’m so disappointed in Terry. I mean, getting lost going out to have a drink with me — I can see that. But getting lost going to the ballpark, my gosh. And he lives two blocks away, and he was walking! I didn’t know you could get lost walking. But, I guess you can.”

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    Kevin Garnett: ‘I know what I have in there – I know who’s willing to fight’ 04.08.13 at 12:02 am ET
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    Kevin Garnett got his opportunity to shake off the rust Sunday night in his return to the Celtics lineup. (AP)

    Kevin Garnett got his opportunity to shake off the rust Sunday night in his return to the Celtics lineup. (AP)

    Kevin Garnett knew coach Doc Rivers and trainer Ed Lacerte would be watching his every move Sunday night.

    Playing for the first time since inflammation and bone spurs in the left foot caused him to sit out eight games, Garnett paced himself and scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Washington Wizards, 107-96, at TD Garden.

    “I felt okay,” Garnett said of playing for the first time since March 22 in Dallas. “I felt strong enough to play. I felt decent in my minutes and I picked and choosed when I was aggressive. I did the things I typically do. That was it. I told Ed that if I felt like I couldn’t go that I wouldn’t push myself but Doc has a lot of trust in what I’m doing. We were on the same page so so far so good.”

    Rivers said the situation, as it turned out, was ideal for Garnett’s return – that is, 24 minutes in a low pressure environment.

    “I thought he was really good, really good,” Rivers said. “And I thought his rhythm was good early. I was surprised how well he was running; I noticed that [Saturday] in practice. We did all fast-break stuff and I was just doing it for him, just so he could blow his lungs out, and I was surprised how well he was running. So that was good. And I don’t know what we played him – 24 minutes – that’s, I mean, you couldn’t script that. That was perfect. Actually I wanted 20, but 25 was what I didn’t want to go.”

    Garnett was 6-of-9 from the field and was able to defend well, posting a plus-8 while on the court. While Paul Pierce was busy pointing out how important Garnett’s presence is to Boston’s postseason hopes, Garnett was focused instead on the way the rest of his team is playing.

    “It doesn’t matter what line-up goes or who’s on the floor as long as we’re playing the right way,” Garnett said. “That’s all my concern is. Just making sure that we’re sharing the ball, playing as a team, giving up for each other, playing defensively, being one voice, one sound – those are the things that are most important.” Read the rest of this entry »

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