|Doc Rivers on loss of Jared Sullinger: ‘We’ll have to play differently again’||02.01.13 at 7:18 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers says his team will have to play more small ball now that big man Jared Sullinger is lost for the season to lumbar disc surgery in his back, surgery that took place Friday at New England Baptist Hospital.
While the news was somewhat surprising to outsiders on Friday, the Celtics knew all along that this was the risk of drafting Sullinger, who missed nearly half of his final (sophomore) year last winter with Ohio State, a team he led to the Final Four. Sullinger’s bad back dropped him on draft day last June and the Celtics took the gamble, taking him 21st overall.
“We knew this could happen,” Rivers said. “We knew it a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point it probably would happen. We were hoping it would be a summer thing, rather than the middle of the season, but it happened now. He was playing great and the good news is we know he can play. We know he’ll be a very good player and, in the long run, this will make him healthier.”
As for Rivers’ reaction to the news, “My emotions are to the team, I have to give them that. I told them after shootaround. Our goals haven’t changed, nothing’s changed. We will have to play differently, again.”
Rivers said he would use more of a “small-ball” approach, like the Magic and Knicks already do in the East. Rivers also inserted Brandon Bass back in the starting lineup and hinted that he would use Jeff Green more at the power forward spot, with the following caveat.
“It’s probably not fair but I’m going to lean more on Jeff to do more rebounding,” Rivers said. “When he’s rebounded for us, he’s played well.”
“I think we’re still working on what we may have to do. But I think we definitely have to be a small-ball team. We’ll start big, as usual with Brandon and Kevin [Kevin Garnett] — I don’t know if that’s big, but that’s how we’ll start. After that we just have to put our five best players on the floor, so we’re going to have to be creative.”
As for leaning on rookie center Fab Melo, don’t expect Rivers to be using the Syracuse product, meshing with what Danny Ainge told reporters before Friday’s game.
“I know how people here love the young guys — love to see the young guys,” Rivers said tongue-in-cheek. “I’m sure at some point, Fab will find his way on the floor. Obviously, I think you try to give him as much as he can handle. You do try to put him in situations like when he’s on the floor, Kevin’s on the floor with him to help him.”
|Doc Rivers reminds Paul Pierce that he is ‘still our scorer’||01.31.13 at 1:59 am ET|
Doc Rivers knew everyone would have to pick up their game without Rajon Rondo. He also knew that Paul Pierce had experience doing it. But as the game began, the Celtics coach felt he was too concerned with distributing and not doing what he does best – scoring.
The Celtics’ leading scorer at 18.7 points per game was scoreless before a layup and a free throw with 2:53 left in the second quarter. Time for intervention.
“Listen, that’s how we have to play overall,” Rivers said. “Just simple, good basketball; pass the ball, move the ball. I got on Paul at the beginning of the game because I thought he was trying to be the facilitator ‘ he must’ve read some of your all dumb-ass articles ‘ and then once he started moving the ball, he was great. Because he’s still our scorer. I said, ‘Paul, you’re still our scorer, by the way.’ But overall I thought everybody just played their role, and played great.’
Pierce got the message, finishing with a team-best 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics also made concerted effort of rushing the ball up the court against the athletic Kings.
“Again, not having Rondo, we don’t want teams to get set, where you’ve got to grind out a play and late clock, and moving,” Rivers said. “It’s just easier for us if we can get into our stuff quicker. We just advanced it at the pass, we got early posts for Kevin (Garnett), had some quick lay-ups, easy baskets, that’s what we have to do.’
Pierce wasn’t the only one facilitating the Celtics’ offense. Kevin Garnett (13 points, nine rebounds) established himself early with nine points in the first quarter.
‘Yeah, he was terrific,” Rivers said. “He really did. And that’s what he ‘ you know, all of them, everybody has to do their job. Some have to do better. And Kevin I thought tonight was terrific. Really, I thought everyone did what they needed to do. I thought our bench came in and had an unbelievable run. And I thought offensively what we did is if a play worked, we didn’t try to get smart and run another play. We kept running the same play. And when that stopped, we went to another play. It’s simple, and it sounds simple, but that’s what we did.’
The first game the Celtics played knowing Rondo was no longer an option couldn’t have gone much better for the Celtics in a 99-81 win that Boston led by as many as 28 in the third quarter.
‘Well it’s important because we believe we can and we want to and we need to,” Rivers said. “So, yeah, I mean it’s vital for us. We have to win every game; that’s how we think. We have to go in every single game and look at them as single games now, and try to win them. But it’s always nice to get off to a start like this.’
|Doc Rivers: ‘Have to give [Rajon Rondo] room to do what he wants’ during injury||01.30.13 at 7:42 pm ET|
The first test for the Celtics is handling a Kings team that beat them like a drum in the fourth quarter of a 118-96 loss in Sacramento.
“Not really, I’d rather have him,” Rivers said when asked if coaching without his top point guard represents a unique opportunity. “But the coach in me and the players understand they don’t have him. It’s another challenge and hopefully, we’re up for it.”
Will Rondo be around the team before and after his upcoming ACL surgery?
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I don’t ever ask. I don’t really care. I want him to do what he needs to do. It’s very hard to come to every game. I had that same injury. There are days you want to be around the guys and there are days you don’t. I think you have to give him room to do what he wants.”
Apparently, what Rondo wants right now is the very best advice before going ahead with right knee reconstruction. According to injury expert Will Carroll, Rondo is consulting the “Big 3” of knee doctors, including Neal ElAttrache, James Andrews and Walt Lowe. ElAttrache, you’ll recall, did the ACL reconstruct for Tom Brady in 2008.
Rajon Rondo’s talking to the big three of knees: Andrews, ElAttrache, and Lowe. bleacherreport.com/articles/15039’¦
— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) January 30, 2013
As for the Kings, Wednesday represented a chance at redemption against DeMarcus Cousins, the 22-year-old who went off for a triple-double on Dec. 30.
“He’s not athletic but he’s very [smart] and instinctive,” Rivers said in a moment of pre-game frankness.
As for the Kings, who entered Wednesday 17-29, Rivers had this assessment.
“They’re a talented, young team and there are nights when they get all activated and all together as a group and they’re really good.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: Celtics will be using a ‘no point guard’ system without Rajon Rondo||01.29.13 at 3:58 pm ET|
Rivers announced Tuesday before practice that his team will now do what the second unit has been doing all season – essentially playing with “no point guard” system, where everything is based on pure ball movement instead of one player dictating a certain play.
“That part, honestly, I don’t think it’s much different,” Rivers said. “If you watch our second unit, that’s what they were doing. I don’t see a lot of change there.
“We’re already doing it a lot with the second unit. The first unit was watching it, what we were doing with the ball movement. There was no point guard system with that unit. That unit was becoming very successful. Now, the entire team does that. We did it once so far against Miami. Now, we just have to get better at it.”
There will be exceptions, like when Paul Pierce brings the ball up the court, especially in pressure situations. He has the experience to adjust since he was doing that for Boston well before Rondo landed on the scene in the 2006-07 season.
“I don’t think it’s that big,” Rivers said. “We work on it with the second unit against the first unit in practice. The difference is they’ll just do it full-time now. There’ll be games where I anticipate someone will pressure us and someone else will have to bring the ball up. Those are the things we have to work on, getting the ball up the floor in a quick manner. I think those are the things we’ll work on more.
“There’ll be a lot adjustments. You have to be careful with your play call. You simplify it and let them play through space and read it from there.”
|Flip Saunders on D&C: Celtics unlikely to make major trade after Rajon Rondo injury||01.28.13 at 8:52 am ET|
Saunders, a former NBA coach who served as an adviser to the Celtics for part of last season, said Doc Rivers faces a “challenging” situation.
“Doc, he’s an extremely positive individual,” Saunders said. ” I’m sure that there’s disappointment. But he looks at this as an opportunity and a challenge. Him and his staff, of course, they’ll change how they play a little bit, because you can’t play the same when you’re missing a guy like Rondo that generates 40 percent of their offense, basically, from what he does either scoring-wise or setting people up.
“They’ll change a little bit, but Doc’s not going to let this be any excuse either to himself, to his team, the organization or the players that they can’t go out and compete and win.”
Saunders said he expects some basic changes, including Rivers becoming more controlling of the offense and the team’s two veteran stars playing a bigger role.
“They’ll change a little bit,” Saunders said. “They’ll probably become more defensive-oriented, even more so now. I really believe that Doc will probably have to do more play-calling, where when he had Rondo, he was kind of an extension of him on the floor — he let Rondo pretty much run the show, call the plays. I think now he’s probably going to be a little bit more calling plays from the sidelines.
“And I think you’ll see more of the offense facilitated through Paul Pierce. You saw yesterday Paul getting a triple-double. And probably putting the ball into [Kevin Garnett] in the post more and letting people play off of him in the post.”
There has been speculation that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will attempt to make a major trade to start the rebuilding process. Saunders isn’t so sure.
“I don’t think so, no. I think they’re going to hold tight. They’re going to give this one more go of it,” Saunders said. “I think the idea that they feel is that we can see where this takes us, let’s give these guys an opportunity to play together and still know that in the offseason if they had to do something they could probably still do something in the offseason if the season didn’t go as they liked.”
Saunders, who coached Garnett in Minnesota, said he doesn’t think the veteran would accept a trade.
“I really believe right now that he’s very much set. He loves Boston. I don’t think he wants to leave Boston,” Saunders said. “KG is a creature of habit. He doesn’t like change. He always was bothered when players were either traded or released. That’s just kind of his innate nature. I believe that he believes he’s a Boston Celtic. I believe that when they sat down and they talked [about a new contract in the offseason] they talked about him finishing his career in Boston. Otherwise he probably would have just rode into the sunset.”
|Doc Rivers after Rajon Rondo injury: ‘You can write the obituary. I’m not’||01.27.13 at 5:33 pm ET|
After the Celtics‘ 100-98, double-overtime win over the Heat on Sunday afternoon, Celts coach Doc Rivers explained that he didn’t tell his players the news of Rajon Rondo‘s torn ACL injury until after the game.
“Obviously the Rondo news is pretty tough,” Rivers said. “I knew it before the game; no one else knew it. I just didn’t think it was any time to tell any of our guys that. I told them after the game. Pretty emotional in the locker room.”
Rivers said Rondo went through the team’s walk-through earlier in the day, and actually believed the injury — suffered in Friday night’s loss to Atlanta — to be a hamstring issue. But after further examination by team medical director Brian McKeon, it was determined that the point guard had torn the ACL in his right knee.
It wasn’t until halftime that Rondo was informed the extent of his injury, according to Rivers.
“Very emotional. Very emotional,” the coach said of the player’s reaction. “Funny, at halftime, I knew, and didn’t know. Still. And because Dr. McKeon knew, but he hadn’t seen the MRI. But the technician had already told him. And Dr. McKeon told me, ‘Positive, but let’s wait.’ And so that was hard, too.”
Regarding the reaction of the players after he informed them of Rondo’s injury, Rivers said, “It was good, and then it went down. … I just walked in and told them. I don’t know what else you can do. Guys were celebrating and then it just …”
The Celtics coach still relayed optimism after the game, despite there be no pure point guard on the current roster whom might step in for Rondo.
“Well, you can write the obituary. I’m not,” Rivers said. “You can go ahead. But I’m not. We won tonight, and so the way I look at it is: we’re going to stay in there. In my opinion, we’re going nowhere.”
To hear Rivers’ entire postgame press conference, click here.
For more Celtics news, go to the team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers hesitantly starts Jared Sullinger in desperate move to shake up his Celtics||at 12:39 pm ET|
And sometimes that means making moves you don’t want to make.
Sunday, Rivers took Jared Sullinger out of his comfort zone off the bench and placed him in the starting lineup to add some energy to a team that has lost six straight.
“More because Jared is playing well,” Rivers said. “Honestly, I don’t love it because I worry about our bench. Our bench has been off the charts and that may affect them. But we’re doing it because he’s been playing so well.”
Sullinger has hit a speed bump in his last two games, being held scoreless in the double-overtime game against the Hawks Friday night and scoring just seven points with three rebounds in 15 minutes Thursday against the Knicks.
“Not much,” Rivers said. “Just the way our starters were playing, I thought our lineup needed a shaking up. I’m really doing it cautiously because I just think at some point our starters will find themselves. The one thing I always worry about is our bench. Our bench has been off the charts. The one thing about the Atlanta game, it was a six-point [lead] when they came in and it was 27 points when they left. You don’t hear that a lot from a bench.”
“We just took the game for granted.”
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