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Doc Rivers: ‘We’re going to be hard’ on Jeff Green 11.07.12 at 10:48 am ET
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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.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, NBA
Doc Rivers: I want Mike Longabardi ‘to take it personally when teams score’ 11.06.12 at 6:12 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Houston Rockets, Mike Longabardi
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
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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.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett
Doc Rivers: Celtics are ‘probably behind’ where they need to be 11.05.12 at 5:43 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA,
Doc Rivers doesn’t want Rajon Rondo ‘pacing himself’ at 2:18 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA
Doc Rivers: ‘I don’t see the urgency yet’ 11.03.12 at 1:39 am ET
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Doc Rivers admitted a couple of things Friday night after his team lost in stunning fashion to the Bucks, 99-88, in their home opener at TD Garden.

The Celtics coach doesn’t think his team has played with any urgency this season. And on Friday, he had to – for the first time in his recent memory – remind his team to actually pass the basketball.

Those are two developments no one could have foreseen with this particular veteran Celtics group after two games and two losses.

On Friday night, the Celtics didn’t allow 100 points like the 120 Tuesday night in Miami. But they still allowed the Bucks to get out in transition easily and they were having all sorts of problems consistently defending the low post as they were outscored 52-36 in the paint.

‘€œI don’€™t know if I’€™m upset, concerned ‘€“ I’€™m all those, probably,” Rivers said. “We just ‘€“ I don’€™t see the urgency yet. At times think we thought we would show up, because we have a lot of players on the team, and that would mean we would win. And when you make this many changes, I think our guys have to understand you have to invest, invest into the team to become a team. And I don’€™t think we’€™ve done that yet. I think we will. I think guys are, their minds ‘€“ their spirit is right; we’€™ve got to get the minds right too.

“But I thought offense was bad too. I thought we fumbled, I thought we had no rhythm. And we haven’€™t graduated to the point where you can play bad offense and stay defensively. You know what I mean? So I thought it was both; I thought our defense was bad all night. But I thought our offense ‘€“ you know, that thing where you start struggling on offense, you get down, and then you start not playing defense ‘€“ I thought that was a lot of it. I thought early on we got open shots, then I thought we pressed, I thought we little ‘€˜every man for himself,’€™ and then selfishly I thought every guy was trying to win the game for us. But I thought there was very little ball movement, extra passes. I thought each guy, when he tried to make the play, I thought that was out of frustration. I really thought they were pressing.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA
Paul Pierce: Celtics ‘defense has got to come a lot faster’ 11.02.12 at 10:08 am ET
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WALTHAM — Paul Pierce, as captain of the Celtics, has a way of sending a clear message to his team.

That was evident during the TNT telecast of Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami.

He was wearing a microphone and barking out calls on the floor and words of encouragement to Rajon Rondo when things weren’t always going well.

On Thursday, before the Celtics home opener tonight against the Bucks, he was barking out something else.

“The defense has got to come a lot faster, and that’s something that’s come a lot faster in the past than the offense,” Pierce said of Boston’s 120 points allowed in a 120-107 loss to the Heat. “I’m pretty surprised we scored 107 points, to tell you the truth. Usually, the defense, we pick it up pretty fast. We understand our schemes, our rotations. But I just think we have to understand the type of atmosphere it was going to be. Some of the guys have never been in that atmosphere before, first game, playing against the defending champs on the road. We have to pick up our intensity, understand the moment, understand where we’re at and understand the type of game it’s going to be and raise our game.”

Doc Rivers thought his coaching staff had too much time to prepare and filled their players’ minds with too much information.

“I think our on-ball defense was average because our help defense was worse,” Rivers said. “If everybody is up guarding their own man and there’s no help and guys see gaps [in the defense], they’re taking it. What really upset us, every key guy got every shot he wanted, where they wanted the whole, and that’s a bad defensive night.

“It was team wide. It was spread. Like I told them, from the coaching standpoint, I thought we had way too much time to prepare for it and we put way too much stuff in their head. I thought they were thinking more than playing on instinct. I told our coaches we share in that. We had them doing a couple of different things and that’s not who we are defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Miami Heat, NBA
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