|Doc Rivers has another unmistakable message for his team||11.08.12 at 1:32 pm ET|
This has been an early season of “message sending” for Doc Rivers.
After the first two games, the Celtics head coach talked about not trying to win games by playing one-on-one basketball.
On Monday, after barely surviving blowing a 16-point second-half lead in Washington Saturday night and watching the Wizards reserves dominate the Celtics second unit, the theme turned to the bench. “I’m not going to change the way I use [Kevin Garnett]. If our bench doesn’t score, then we’ll lose, simple.”
Well, he got a much better effort from Chris Wilcox (albeit four minutes), Jason Terry and Brandon Bass off the bench on Wednesday night and it was the biggest reason why the Celtics won, 100-94 in overtime.
But what Rivers saw early on as his team fell behind and what he saw late in the fourth quarter were the two things he focused on afterward.
“Well, we won the game,” Rivers said. “And right now that’s the type of team we are. We’re not playing great. It’s good to win a game like that. We’ve won two like that. You knew coming into this night, no matter who you’re playing, when you’re play a team back-to-back games, you give them three days, you knew it’d be a tough game. But we made it so much harder. I thought we played for the first five minutes great, and then we went back to old habits. I thought our energy was terrible.
“I thought Chris Wilcox saved the game for us, singlehandedly, with his effort. And I thought it was obvious. He didn’t do anything but played hard and played with great effort. And I thought that that leadership led everybody else into doing. Kevin, always, I always exclude him because he always plays the right way. But we’ve got to get more guys that play harder, better. I don’t care about ‘well,’ you know, I don’t care if we play ‘well’ or not, because that’s just human. If you can make shots or not, it happens. But we just have to play with a better focus and we’ve got to run our schemes better.”
Next up for the 2-2 Celtics, the 2-2 Sixers, who are coming off a win in New Orleans Wednesday night and will be in town Friday night. What will Doc’s message be? Stay tuned.
|Doc Rivers went to see ‘Argo’ during the election||11.07.12 at 7:02 pm ET|
Doc Rivers donated $5,000 to Barack Obama‘s campaign, so his rooting interest in Tuesday night’s election was well-known. However, the Celtics coach did not spend Tuesday night glued to the television awaiting results, but instead went to the movies to pass the time.
“That was a lot of fun,” Rivers said of seeing Obama get re-elected. “Nerve-racking, actually. I went to a movie during the middle of it because I couldn’t take it anymore. I was getting texts from people telling me what was going on, and I didn’t trust that, so I was turning into Karl Rove. It was unbelievable.”
Rivers went to see “Argo,” the Ben Affleck movie about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, but he didn’t make it all the way through the movie.
“I got a text in the middle of it that he won, so I left, so I didn’t see the end of ‘Argo,’” Rivers said with a laugh. “And it was terrific, so I’ve got to go pay again, which if you know me, that really pisses me off, having to pay twice.”
A reporter was quick to point out that Rivers didn’t need to see the end of the movie to know what happened, as it’s based on a true story.
“Yeah,” a grinning Rivers replied. “It’s like [knowing the end of] ‘Titanic,’ but it’s still a good movie.”
|Doc Rivers: ‘We’re going to be hard’ on Jeff Green||at 10:48 am ET|
WALTHAM — As the team was going through an open practice Tuesday in front of special guests and reporters, Doc Rivers spotted Jeff Green on the wing, and then cutting late to the basket.
The pass from Brandon Bass went out of bounds, hitting Rivers in the leg.
“Come on, Jeff!” Rivers shouted.
On the next possession down the court, Rivers stopped Green, who was playing defense and had a chat with him.
Rivers explained to him that Bass passed the ball to Green because Green was late cutting to the basket. Bass thought that’s where Green was supposed to be, messing up the whole set.
“We need you to be better,” Rivers told him.
After practice, Rivers reiterated that Green, who is 8.3 points in his first three games, can be great – but only if he expects to be great.
“Jeff is important to us, not [just] for this year but for long term. I’m hard on Jeff,” Rivers said, clearly referring to the $36 million investment through the 2015-16 season.
Then Rivers thought pattern changed on the fly, almost as if he was catching himself lowering expectations of the swingman who was just given a four-year commitment from the team after proving himself healthy after heart surgery last January.
“I don’t actually think I’m hard on him. I think I’m fair on him,” Rivers said. “I think he’s hard on me. So, we’re going to demand out of him this year to be great because I think he has the ability to be great.”
|Doc Rivers: I want Mike Longabardi ‘to take it personally when teams score’||11.06.12 at 6:12 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has kept a close eye on Mike Longabardi for a long time.
Five seasons ago, when Longabardi joined Rivers’ staff, he was helping out Tom Thibodeau, the defensive mastermind of the Celtics championship run in 2008.
When Thibodeau left after 2010, that left a void, one Rivers felt perfectly suited Longabardi. On Tuesday, during an open practice at the team’s training facility, Longabardi put on a show on just how to defensively coach up an NBA team consisting of stars who put defense first.
Longabardi yelled out instructions to Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, among others, directing them on the team’s trapping principles and defensive rules.
“Remember, every trap has to have a purpose,” the 39-year-old coach told his team at the beginning of a two-hour practice.
It’s just the kind of thing Rivers, who would occasionally chime in, wants to hear from his No. 1 defensive assistant.
“He’s been around it,” Rivers said after practice Tuesday. “He’s been in the office next to mine. He communicates it well. I just want him to be focused on that. Whoever is my defensive guy, that’s their only job. All the other coaches do everything, they help with the defense, they help with offense but whoever I make my defensive [assistant], that’s his job.”
Rivers said no one on the team took it harder when the Heat dropped 120 points on the Celtics in the opening night loss.
“I want him to take it personally when teams score,” Rivers said. “And he does. Trust me, the first two games, he wanted to jump off a bridge somewhere. And that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be mad at people and hold them accountable.
Before joining the Celtics for the 2007-08 season, Longabardi was with the Rockets for four seasons as an assistant coach/video coordinator for two seasons, the video coordinator for a season and the assistant video coordinator for a year.
Longabardi spent seven years as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball teams at Pfeiffer University, Adelphi University, Lafayette College, as well as Towson University. He was on the coaching staff that led the Lafayette Leopards to a Patriot League title and an NCAA Tournament berth. Longabardi also was a member of the coaching staff for the Celtics 2008 Championship team.
|Celtics notes: Doc Rivers announces, ‘If we can’t win with [KG] off the floor, we just won’t win’||at 2:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — It’s been a recurring theme of the first week of the season. The Celtics need more out of their bench — much more.
Doc Rivers underscored that after open practice for special guests and clients on Tuesday. Rivers has told his team he’s not going to lean on Kevin Garnett for more minutes when he’s already trying to conserve the big man for an 82-game season. Rivers hinted the same could be said for Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, though he feels he has some more wiggle room with them.
“No, no, I’m not going to let him do more. I’m going to play Kevin the same amount of minutes,” Rivers said. “With Paul, Rondo you can go anywhere but if we can’t win with him off the floor, we just won’t win. And I told our bench that. We’re going to play the minutes that I’m giving them. The bench will play the minutes they should get and if they’ve got to do something or we just won’t win. It’s that simple.”
Garnett is averaging a reasonable 29 minutes a game in the first three games. Pierce is at 35 minutes and Rondo is playing 41 minutes per contest. Rivers has not yet seen the consistent production he would like from Chris Wilcox, Brandon Bass and Jeff Green but he feels it will come.
“Not yet but when you take Kevin out, you’re not going to get Kevin,” Rivers added. “That’s why he’s on the bench. But I don’t think that’s been an issue. When he’s been off the floor, like last year, when he was off the floor, it had a dramatic [effect]. I don’t think that’s been the case so far this year at all. I think the guys that have come in have tried to do what they should do. I think the other guys with him have to do more.”
Tuesday’s practice featured detailed instruction from defensive guru Mike Longabardi, who was teaching trapping principles and defensive rules within the system, especially important to the newer players, like the three rookies and Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa.
“Today was just a practice,” Rivers said. “It’s easier here because it’s in your natural surroundings. It was a good practice.”
Rivers again preached patience when talking about the newer players picking up the defensive scheme.
“We’re getting it,” Rivers said. “It’s just going to take time. I thought we were a lot better today. We’re working a lot of principles and tendencies. Offensively, it’s just moving the ball. Defensively, just running the coverages and talking. It just takes time.
“There’s no date,” Rivers added when asked if there’s an expected time by which everyone should be on board. “Every group is different because if one guy doesn’t get it, it brings the whole team down. Every year, it’s a different group. There’s no expiration date on anybody. It’s just takes time.”
|Doc Rivers: Celtics are ‘probably behind’ where they need to be||11.05.12 at 5:43 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers can see what every Celtics fan sees. The team is 1-2 to start the season and not playing the basketball everyone envisioned when they brought back Kevin Garnett and added Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger to a cast that lost to Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern finals last June.
“Probably behind,” Rivers said after Monday’s practice. “We have a great first half in Washington, that is what we needed to see. But I didn’t think we sustained it. I just think everyone is starting to figure out that, to be a good team, you have to actually work at it. And it’s hard work. You just don’t show up because you have good names on a piece of paper and become good. You have to work at it, and you have to work hard at it. And it’s exhausting.”
Is conditioning all that’s missing from the team’s trademark D?
“Yeah, but I think we’re in good enough condition to be a good defensive team. I think that’s more of the buy-in and the trust and the communication.”
The Celtics finished Monday’s two-hour practice with conditioning drills in 5-on-5 sets. Rivers is clearly concerned with his team’s ability to finish games defensively, after the Wizards erased two double-digit deficits in the fourth quarter only to have Paul Pierce save the game with a 3-point shot with under three minutes left.
The first half, when the Celtics raced to leads of 17-2 and 26-10, was a different story – one that after watching on film – made Rivers think the team is close.
“I thought we played defense, we got into the ball, there was ball pressure, there was talking,” Rivers said. “The first seven or eight minutes, [Washington] struggled to get a shot off, let alone score a basket. Then as the game went on, you can see us slowly moving away from it. I don’t know if that’s breaking old habits from other places, or if that’s conditioning. When you watch it on film, you think it’s a little bit of both.”
|Doc Rivers doesn’t want Rajon Rondo ‘pacing himself’||at 2:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Sometimes, too much of a good thing is not healthy for a basketball team.
Such is the case for the Celtics and the minutes of Rajon Rondo.
As Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and, when he was here, Ray Allen, approached their mid-30s, much was made of limiting their minutes to preserve them through the season.
Well, take a look at Rondo’s minutes and what the Celtics expect from him and you could make the argument they should be just as concerned.
In the first three games, Rondo has played 44, 41 and 41 minutes, averaging 41.5 minutes per contest, nine minutes over his career average per game. Yes, it’s just a three-game sample so far and yes, that average includes a season of 23.5 minutes in his rookie year in 2006-07 and 29.9 the next, when he led the Celtics to an NBA title running the point. But still, one look at Rondo’s lean body and you see the need to preserve the Rolls Royce of the Celtics engine for all 82 games.
But Rivers took it a step further after practice Monday when he said it’s not the number of minutes but how Rondo is playing on the court that he has to watch closely. Rivers wants to be the one pacing Rondo from the bench, not Rondo himself.
“I’m concerned but not as far as him getting tired but I don’t want him to save himself on the floor,” Rivers said. “There’s a minutes number for him. We don’t know what it is yet. We’ll figure it out where he can play his minutes at full pace instead of knowing he’s going to be on the floor too long and then he starts pacing himself. We need him to be a fast, quick, aggressive player.”
And the number?
“I think it’s 39, 38 but it’s not much lower than 40 but it’s in that area,” Rivers added.
Rivers has said in years past just what a physical drain it is for a guard like Rondo to not only run the offense but play top-end defense that is a staple in the Celtics scheme.
The answers right now off the bench are Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa, with the latter coming to Boston in late October as Danny Ainge realized the need for ball-handling depth on the roster. Courtney Lee can also help lighten the load, switching from his starting role as shooting guard to the point.
But the biggest help of all will come when Avery Bradley comes back with two healthy shoulders – likely in December – to take a big defensive burden off Rondo.
Until then, Rivers will be watching Rondo very closely.
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