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Doc Rivers: ‘We played with great force’ in win over Thunder 11.23.12 at 11:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers watched his team register its most significant win of the season Friday night, overcoming an early nine-point deficit and withstanding a late charge to beat the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, 108-100, at TD Garden.

‘€œThe biggest difference is this time they scores 100 and we scored 108,” Rivers said, referencing the 112-100 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday at the Garden. “It’€™s the same game really. I told the guys at halftime and even after the game, that was the Celtics. That’€™s the team that we’€™ve been looking for, but can we continue to do it. We’€™ve got to do it over and over again. I thought there were some mistakes made, we kept playing. There were some runs, we kept playing. They made a run, we kept playing. No hanging heads, yelling at each other. We played through all clutter, it was like a clutter free game, for us. That’€™s who we have to be.”

Jeff Green scored 17 points off the bench in 25 minutes and the Celtics fought off Kevin Durant and the Thunder, when a 14-point lead dwindled to three with two minutes left.

“I thought Jeff Green was spectacular tonight,” Rivers said. “It’€™s funny, I think the two plays that I called for him. He didn’€™t score. He scored on all the plays that wasn’€™t his and that’€™s what we kept telling him he has to do. Stop waiting for us to call it, go get it, and I thought he did that tonight. A lot of good efforts. I thought our bench was huge. I thought [Leandro] Barbosa, it’€™s funny he didn’€™t score a point, and I thought his defensive pressure was extremely effective tonight. He has that reputation of being an offensive player. What we have found since getting him, he’€™s a heck of a defensive player. He has the ability to put pressure on the ball. That’€™s something we didn’€™t know. So again, we’€™re still discovering guys on our team, but that was a good effort.

‘€œWe just need to play right. It’€™s great to beat Oklahoma, they were in the finals last year, and they’€™re the team to beat, I guess, in the West. But it was more how we played. We played with great force tonight. I thought that was the difference.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
Doc Rivers on Kendrick Perkins: ‘You can’t put a number on identity or perception’ at 8:22 pm ET
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When asked initially about Kendrick Perkins before Friday’s game, Doc Rivers said he wasn’t focused on the big man’s return to Boston.

“He’s tough,” Rivers said. “He’s good. He’s a good defender. I’m looking at their whole team. I haven’t thought about the one guy more than the sentimental stuff.”

Then Rivers articulated exactly what it is that the 7-foot center brings to any team he’s on. Call it the “scowl” factor.

“Perk has never had big stats,” Rivers said. “That’s not why you have Perk on your team. You can’t put a number on identity or perception. There is a number but I don’t know what it is but Perk gives the team that.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, NBA
What Doc Rivers sees is a lot more than just the stat sheet 11.22.12 at 8:13 am ET
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Doc Rivers can read a stat sheet just like everyone else. What it means to him is something entirely different.

The stat sheet says Paul Pierce had zero rebounds in 36 minutes. The stat sheet reads Kevin Garnett hauling in just three rebounds in 31 minutes. Brandon Bass led starters with six and Jared Sullinger led all Celtics with seven. They were outrebounded by San Antonio 41-25 in a 112-100 loss Wednesday night at TD Garden.

‘€œI think it’€™ll be easy to say ‘€˜the bigs, the bigs.’€™ It wasn’€™t the bigs,” Rivers said. “It was, but it wasn’€™t as well. We thought we started out the game terrific in the way were playing and then we went on that little turnover-fest and got them kind of activated ‘€“ Tony Parker and their game. I thought we were late on a lot of our rotations and allowed them to just move the ball; very few deflections, which is a big number for us. And then down the stretch (Tiago Splitter) just played terrific.

“He made some big shots them, hell they even went to him a couple times. You know, offensively you score 100 points, 53%, you’€™re pretty happy. But we just let a team shoot 58% against us. We let a team shoot 50% from the three against us. And it’€™s tough to win a game, you shouldn’€™t win a game, if that happens.’€

Do the Celtics need to play harder?

‘€œI think we’€™ve got to do our coverages better, just bottom line,” Rivers said. “Harder and all that, that sounds great. That’€™s what everyone says when you lose; ‘€˜you’€™ve got to play harder.’€™ Well, we’€™ve got to play smarter, we have to know our coverages better, and when that happens everybody is on the same page and it allows our rotations to be freer, it allows our bigs to get back to the paint. So I thought it was a lot of that.’€

Ah, the paint. That’s where the Celtics were outscored 58-34, being dominated at one point, 48-18. But still, that’s not specifically why the Celtics lost. Yes, it’s part of the reason but Rivers points out that when you don’t defend the man delivering the ball into the paint very well, you have no shot. Still, with under three minutes left, the Celtics drew to within six and the Garden was on its feet hoping against hope.

‘€œYeah, we were right there because nobody could stop anybody on either team,” Rivers said. “Again, we shot 53% so the reason we were there is because our offense allowed us to stay there. But to me, that was fools’€™ gold, because the way we were playing defense you’€™re not going to get a stop, you’€™re not going to win a game. And I think we cut it several times and either we had a turnover and they went and scored or late-clock possessions; I think they got them all. They got all the loose balls, all the late-clock scores, and that hurt us.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, San Antonio Spurs
Doc Rivers on Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan: ‘Just put up a mirror’ 11.21.12 at 7:18 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers before Wednesday night’s game with the San Antonio Spurs talked about Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor and his 138-point performance on Tuesday, a comparison between Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, a comparison of Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker and the status of Paul Pierce‘s sprained ankle.

Doc on Rondo vs. Parker: “I’d rather have just one of the game’s best playing tonight. It’s amazing. They’re both terrific, obviously. They’re so different in how they play. It’s amazing how many different point guards there are in the league right now, and they’re all really good. You have to prepare for each one of them in a different way. The big ones, the strong ones, the fast ones, the witty ones. It’s different right now with all the different types of point guards, and each team has built their team around that style of point guard. It’s a good time in the league right now for that position.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jack Taylor, Kevin Garnett
Fueled by ‘chip on my shoulder,’ Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger earns status as steal of 2012 NBA draft 11.17.12 at 7:01 pm ET
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When Jared Sullinger slipped to the Celtics at No. 21 overall, many pundits quickly declared him the steal of the 2012 NBA draft. And as much as you can make such a declaration 10 games into this season, they were right.

After averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 boards as an Ohio State sophomore, Sullinger recorded the first double-double of his NBA career on Saturday afternoon, amassing 12 points (5-8 FG, 2-2 FT) and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench in the C’s 107-89 victory against the Atlantic Division rival Raptors.

“I’m used to having double-doubles,” he said, “so it feels good to carry it over to the next level.”

Sullinger’s performance came on the heels of playing a season-low eight minutes on Thursday, when he was benched after giving up an offensive rebound in the C’s 102-97 loss to the Nets.

“He knows his place,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, whose first-year players rarely see the floor. “I think he wasn’t happy about not playing against Brooklyn … but he just knows how to play. He’s a calming effect at times when you put him in, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a rookie. It’s nice to have that.”

Sullinger raised his season averages to 3.9 points (51.6 FG%, 100.0 FT%) and 4.1 rebounds in 16 boards a night, but more importantly the Celtics earned a sixth win in their last eight games, and he’s contributed to all of them. When you look at all 14 bigs drafted in the first round, Sullinger is the most productive on any winning team.

“I’m just doing my job,” said Sullinger, who faces No. 9 overall pick Andre Drummond on Sunday. “I could care less. It put a chip on my shoulder, but I could care less how that goes. I’m just out there playing basketball. It’s a great situation. I could’ve been on some other team, worrying about not winning, instead of just playing basketball and being able to have a legitimate shot at winning every night, so it’s a blessing to be here, honestly.”

Here’s how Sullinger stacks up to his Class of 2012 peers: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jared Sullinger, Kevin Garnett
Doc Rivers: Leandro Barbosa ‘bailed us out’ 11.14.12 at 11:46 pm ET
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Outside of trainer Ed Lacerte, Leandro Barbosa was the most important member of the Celtics bench Wednesday night as he scored 16 points and steadied the ship when its leader Rajon Rondo went down with a sprained right ankle midway through the third quarter. The Celtics were able to hold off the Jazz, 98-93, Wednesday night at TD Garden.

But as coach Doc Rivers points out, it wasn’t just his time replacing Rondo and running the point in the second half that turned out to be so important.

‘€œBarbosa was terrific,” Rivers said. “I mean, he bailed us out. Not only just replacing Rondo; I thought in the first half ‘€“ I thought our starters started the game out pretty flat and I thought our second unit with Courtney Lee and Barbosa, Jared [Sullinger], that group gave us a spurt, Jeff Green. And then obviously Rondo goes out in the second half and just putting LB in and we didn’€™t run much because he doesn’€™t know much. But everything was basically pick-and-rolls. We told him to just keep attacking to the basket and we’€™ll figure it out from there.’€

Barbosa was so good, in fact, it kept Rivers from considering his worst nightmare, life without Rondo.

‘€œIt’€™s going to happen,” Rivers acknowledged. “He’€™s not going to play all 82 [games], I doubt. It’€™d be nice. You know how I think, guys, the next guy, just somebody has to step up and we have to figure it out. And tonight was a great example that we did that. We had other options; you could put JET [Jason Terry] in at the point. I mean, it was just one of those games. I thought the big lineup, or our semi-big lineup with Paul [Pierce] and Jeff changed the game for us as well. We had a post presence with those guys. So, it was an interesting game. When we get outrebounded by what we did, 18-4 [offensive rebounds], it’€™s hard to win a basketball game. And yet we still won it.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Ed Lacerte, Leandro Barbosa
Al Jefferson on Celtics: ‘If that situation were to happen, I’d love to do that again’ at 7:27 pm ET
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Talk about full circle.

If you’re a Celtics fan wouldn’t it be something if the Celtics were somehow able to land Al Jefferson in free agency next season? The man most famous for being the biggest chip that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston in the summer of 2007 spoke before taking on his former team Wednesday at the Garden. He forced the first overtime of Utah’s 140-133 triple-overtime win over Toronto Monday night with a rebound and a 3-pointer.

A lot of things would have to fall into place. First, Jefferson would have to turn down what he considers to be a situation in Salt Lake City that he says compares very favorably to Boston.

“We haven’t had any conversations,” Jefferson said before his match up with the Celtics Wednesday night. “This is all about going out and taking care of business. If I go out and take care of my business, everything else will work itself out. I’m not really concerned about it.”

Jefferson is making $15 million in the final year of his deal in Utah.

“I want to be in the NBA,” Jefferson said. “When both teams want me, that’s when I need to start worrying. Right now, I just want to be in the NBA, I want to be with the Utah Jazz to be honest with you. I’d love to stay in Utah. They do things the right way, kind of remind me of Boston, first class. They do everything the right way. They have to do what’s best for their team and I have to do what’s best for my family. Right now, it’s all about winning and getting back to the playoffs.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. You really don’t want to think too far ahead. You have to take care of business day-by-day. If I do my part, everything will work out.”

As for Boston?

“This is my first home,” he said with a big smile. “This will always be my home away from home. Danny Ainge gave me a chance when nobody else did. If that situation were to happen, I’d love to do that again. But right now, like I said, it’s all about taking care of business and finishing out the season right.”

Last year, Doc Rivers took his former big man to dinner. This year?

“Nah, screw Al,” Rivers laughed. “I don’t have time for him. He’s too good now. I didn’t. It’s just a tough trip.”

Jefferson is averaging 15.8 points and 11 rebounds and has started all eight games for the Jazz this year. So much has changed for Jefferson, who has had his share of terrible injury luck, including blowing out his knee in Minnesota in three non-playoff seasons there before finally getting a taste of the playoffs last season with the Jazz.

“It was always a rebuilding year in Minnesota,” Jefferson said. “It’s just been great to get to the Jazz, where it’s just like Boston – all about winning. They always have winning in mind. Danny’s probably thinking right now of a way to win five years from now. That’s just the way it is [in Boston] and that’s the way it is in Utah.”

“He just keeps getting better and better,” Rivers said. “The thing I thought I’d never say about Al is he’s becoming a better passer, and I’m very happy about that for him. He just keeps working on his game.

“I think he hit that one little stretch, where he lost a lot and you can see he’s fought through that now. I think making that playoff run, he was a big part of it last year, has kind of restoked him, and it’s good. He’s a heck of a guy.”

Read More: Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers
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