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Doc Rivers on Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Wednesday pregame notes 01.02.13 at 8:03 pm ET
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Doc Rivers announced before Wednesday’s game that Rajon Rondo had been cleared to play and would start with Avery Bradley in the Celtics backcourt as the team looks for a defensive spark to turn around its three-game losing streak.

Rondo suffered a bruised right hip against the Clippers on Thursday and missed Saturday’s game against the Warriors before returning on Sunday in the loss to the Kings. Rondo sat out Tuesday’s practice before working out two hours before Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies and getting cleared to play.

Meanwhile, Bradley is making his season debut after surgery on both shoulders in the offseason. Rivers said before the game there would be no minutes limitations on Bradley in his first appearance of the season.

“I just think the quicker we get to our lineup, the better,” Rivers said. “We’re going to get to it anyway, so why wait?”

“If he’s hurting us, we take him out; if he’s playing well, we let him play,” said Rivers. “I think it’ll be vision, but listen, we gotta play with some kind of pace, offensively and defensively, obviously. So it’ll be pretty easy to see.”

Rivers said he hasn’t paid attention to reports that Bradley will be the key to a turnaround.

“I haven’t paid too much attention to all this stuff. Is he [Bill] Russell yet? Or [Bob] Cousy? I don’t know,” Rivers said. “If that’s what [media has] made him, and if he lives up to that, then I’m good with that. I hope everyone’s right.”

Can Bradley make the rest of the Celtics better defenders?

“If you take one great defensive player and you put him on a team, the team is going to be a better defensive team,” Rivers added. “And as important as bigs are, I’ve always thought, especially if it’s a guard that applies pressure, that kinda fuels energy. You see it and it’s hard for you not to do it. You got this guy doing it and then, what, are you not going to do anything? It clearly helps. Again, because this is his first game this year, the other players have a 30-game advantage on him as far as timing and stuff, as far as running their stuff. I’m not looking for the world today or tomorrow, even in a week. But it’s going to come.”

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Doc Rivers pregame on the Bucks again, ‘The Jasons’ lineup and Larry Sanders 12.21.12 at 7:40 pm ET
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Chris Wilcox (right thumb) and Leandro Barbosa (personal matter, not with the team) will be out for Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

With those two out, the Celtics recalled rookie forward Kris Joseph from the Maine Red Claws on Friday.

Other notes:

The Celtics are playing the Bucks for a fourth time in the first six weeks of the season, with Boston trailing the series 1-2. That could be a factor if the two are vying for playoff positioning late in the season. Boston stands 13-12 heading into the game while the Bucks are a half-game better at 13-11.

“What’s funny is, I don’t think any of the lineups have been the same on either team,” Rivers said. “It’s four new games every time we play them. It’s early, I tell you, I obviously don’t love that. I just think you should play a team in your conference late in the season. But we’re going to make it up, we’re going to play the Knicks four times after this.”

Doc Rivers will stick with “The Jasons” lineup featuring Jason Terry at shooting guard and Jason Collins at center for a second straight game.

“I’ve said this 100 times – the starting lineup is not as important as everyone thinks it is,” said Rivers. “I did that more from Kevin. In one way, just to get him some minutes at the 4 instead of the 5. And then, until Avery [Bradley] comes back, for Jason Terry to get a shot. But other than that, I did like it, because Jason — you don’t know which one, so I’ll let you figure it out — his talking was terrific, it helped Kevin. I hope you guys can figure that one out.”

Rivers said he did like the impact it had on Kevin Garnett, who had 12 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes of the win over Cleveland.

“He seemed like he had more energy,” Rivers said. “It’s one game, so it’s tough thing to look at. If we play well tonight — we’ll find out in a month what it does really. It looks like he had more energy, because he had another guy covering for him and he didn’t feel like he had to do everything on defense.”

Rivers compared Bucks shot-blocker and big man Larry Sanders to Thunder big Serge Ibaka: “We should probably stop shooting when he’s right there. That would probably help, because he always blocks your shot. It’s funny, he does it to everybody. I actually told my son, Austin, when they played the Bucks, I said, ‘Hey Austin, be careful with Sanders, you get a step deep and he’ll get you.’ I think his first two shots were blocked, so I was thinking, ‘Nothing changes. No one listens.’”

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Irish Coffee: A brief Kevin Garnett lesson on chemistry and evolution 12.20.12 at 10:44 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers rolled out his sixth different lineup in 25 games when he again flip-flopped Jason Terry and Courtney Lee while inserting Jason Collins into the spot normally reserved for Brandon Bass alongside mainstays Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Wednesday night’s victory against the Cavaliers.

While the C’s ended a three-game losing streak, Garnett didn’t exactly sound pleased with the constant change.

“It’s a process,” said KG. “Chemistry is something else. It’s not something that’s just going to happen. I think it’s just something that’s going to evolve. The quicker, the better, with this lineup thing, so we can establish who we are and what we’re going to be. Doc has a vision of what he wants, and until he has it this is what it’s gonna be.”

Here’s how those six lineups have performed this season (record-wise): plus-minus per 82games.com.

  • Rondo, Terry, Pierce, Bass, Garnett (9-4): plus-35 in 197.0 minutes
  • Rondo, Lee, Pierce, Bass, Garnett (0-5): minus-9 in 57.9 minutes
  • Rondo, Lee, Pierce, Jared Sullinger, Garnett (2-1): plus-13 in 33.9 minutes
  • Terry, Lee, Pierce, Bass, Garnett (1-1): plus-16 in 39.1 minutes
  • Leandro Barbosa, Terry, Pierce, Bass, Garnett (0-1): sample size too small
  • Rondo, Terry, Pierce, Bass, Collins (1-0): sample size too small

One thing we know for sure is that Lee shouldn’t be starting. The only reason Rivers inserted him back into the lineup in Chicago was to get Terry readjusted to playing off the bench, but the former Sixth Man of the Year attempted just two shots against the Bulls, so the Celtics should keep starting him until Avery Bradley‘s return.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc Rivers: ‘We still haven’t sustained a 48-minute game’ 12.19.12 at 11:39 pm ET
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At this point, Doc Rivers will take any victory, any way he can get them.

But even Wednesday night, what looked like a 20-point laugher late in the third quarter against a 5-21 team on the parquet turned into nail-biting time in a matter of six minutes.

The Celtics led 80-60 with just over three minutes left in the third. Then Rivers subbed his starters and turned to his bench. The unit that was very productive and active in the first half, fell apart, allowing the Cavs to start a 20-2 run that got them back in the game.

“Honestly, our bench came in and didn’t give us a lift,” Rivers said. “And they were fantastic in the first half. We still haven’t sustained a 48 minute game; we had that one stretch. We have to get better. We had a 20-point lead, you sub in, and I think guys think when you have that lead it’s scoring time now. And it’s really defensive time; you’ve got to continue to get stops. Then you can score. And I thought we short-cutted that part of it.”

The Celtics finished shooting 59.7 percent on the night and scored 103 points, thanks in large part to their captain Paul Pierce, who had 40. Did Pierce just get tired of losing?

“Well I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was great,” Rivers said. “It was efficient, though. A lot of open shots. A lot of ball movement down the stretch. He caught fire and created his own. For the most part, I just thought the ball movement was really good for our guys. We shoot 60 percent, basically; a lot of good things are happening. And then we hold a team to 40 or 41 percent, a lot of good things happen. I thought Jason Collins play with one point, two rebounds – I thought he had a main impact on the game for us. Especially for Kevin (Kevin Garnett). I thought Kevin enjoyed playing with him.”

A three-game losing streak ended Wednesday because the Celtics found some resiliency against a 5-21 team. Not pretty but Rivers will take it.

“I think [Pierce] and Kevin and (Rajon Rondo), they all took it to heart,” Rivers said. “They don’t like the way we’re playing, they believe we’re better than what we’re playing, but we haven’t done it. And at some point, you’ve got to stop talking about it. And Paul did that tonight.”

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Doc Rivers rolls the dice with Rajon Rondo and gets away with one 12.13.12 at 1:55 am ET
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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.”

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Doc Rivers: Expecting word on Avery Bradley 12.12.12 at 8:13 pm ET
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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.”

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Doc Rivers has learned a lot from Bill Belichick 12.11.12 at 9:58 pm ET
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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.”

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