|Rivers explains ‘The Play’||01.07.10 at 4:02 pm ET|
A day after the Celtics forced overtime with an inbound alley-oop layin from Paul Pierce to Rajon Rondo, Celtics fans are still buzzing about ‘The Play.’ It took less than a second to execute, but it’s sure to be talked about the rest of the season.
On Thursday, Doc Rivers explained the keys to this offensive strategy on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show.
Picking the passer: After running through the play in practice, Rivers knew Pierce was the right man for the role.
‘We ran it once, might have been last year or two years ago, and it didn’t work. It worked to the point that Rondo was open and we threw the pass off mark. It actually went into overtime. We work on that play occasionally, like once every 10 practices. Paul is the only guy that can make the pass. Every time we use someone else it’s a bad pass. But it was good that all those guys were there.’
‘The good thing with Paul, because he is such a threat as a player, they rarely put a big on him. A lot of time, like what we did in Golden State where we put the two bigs on the ball, teams don’t want to do that just in case there is enough time for Paul to come back and get the ball. They usually put his guy on him and that’s why we use him.’
Watching the clock: Six-tenths of a second may not seem like a lot of time to pull of a daring shot, but it was more than enough for the Celtics.
‘We’ve done it with 0.4 because it’s just a tap. Even at 0.3 you have a chance.’
Selecting the secret weapon: The Heat were caught off guard when Pierce lobbed the ball to the smallest guy on the team.
‘Rondo is usually the best guy to do it, because he’s the guy that no one thinks you are going to do it with. That’s what we try to choose. Ray [Allen] is the other guy, surprisingly, because no one thinks you are going to throw a lob pass to Ray, either. So, it’s usually one of those two guys.’
Testing the guinea pigs: Rivers had stumped his own players in practice to ensure it could work against their opponents.
‘We just disguise it. It’s the same play that you could run like 10 different ways and we just give it different formations. That’s what we do in practice.’
|Doc Rivers on D&C||at 12:24 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning. He discussed Wednesday night’s dramatic victory over the Heat in overtime, the case for Rajon Rondo as an All-Star and the issue of guns in the NBA, which was highlighted by the indefinite suspension of Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas.
A transcript of the interview is below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.
Where would last night’s victory rate?
Because of the way it finished it would rate high. Obviously there was a time where I thought we had it. Then it looked like we had lost it, and then we stole it back. Because of all that it ranks pretty high. Especially with all the guys coming back off of injury and still missing guys. There have been so many disruptions with our team right now, to have enough continuity to win a game has been great for all of our guys.
Was last night’s game all about overcoming human nature or giving into human nature?
I think so. They played hard on that last play. They did everything they were supposed to do. I was just happy with our guys, because when we called the timeout, it took me 15 seconds to get them in the huddle because they were so down. Once we drew up the play you could see them come back. They had the focus and just to execute the play and for it to work. Whenever anything works it looks great, because it takes so many moving parts for that stuff to happen. So, I thought we had good focus.
Have you used that play in the past and did it work?
We ran it once, might have been last year or two years ago, and it didn’t work. It worked to the point that Rondo was open and we threw the pass off the mark. It actually went into overtime. We work on that play occasionally, like once every 10 practices. Paul [Pierce] is the only guy that can make the pass, every time we use someone else it’s a bad pass. But it was good that all those guys were there.
What if there is less time than 0.6 seconds? Does it require all 0.6 seconds to get that up?
We’ve done it with 0.4 because it’s just a tap. Even at 0.3 you have a chance. Rondo is usually the best guy to do it, because he’s the guy that no one thinks you are going to do it with. That’s what we try to choose. Ray [Allen] is the other guy, surprisingly, because no one thinks you are going to throw a lob pass to Ray, either. So, it’s usually one of those two guys.
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Heat||01.06.10 at 10:50 pm ET|
The Celtics overcame a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Heat, 112-106, in dramatic fashion on the road in overtime. This game wasn’t pretty — the Celtics committed 24 turnovers while the Heat attempted 98 shots — but the C’s fended off 44 points from Dwayne Wade to get the win.
Player of the Game: Kudos to Paul Pierce for perfectly executing the game-tying alley-oop to Rajon Rondo, but this award goes to the recipient of the pass. Not only did Rondo send the Celtics into overtime, he led them in the final five minutes. Rondo finished with a team-high 25 points.
Turning Point: After Wade hit a pair of game-tying free throws, the Celtics had an opportunity to hit the game-winner with 5.5 seconds left. Wade stole the ball from Ray Allen at halfcourt and slammed the go-ahead bucket to put the Heat up, 101-99, with 0.6 seconds to go. The Celtics responded with one of the best plays of the season ‘ an inbound alley-oop from Pierce to Rondo as time expired to force overtime.
– Pierce posted 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in his return from a knee infection.
– The Celtics committed 24 turnovers to just 11 by the Heat.
– Free throws were a huge deciding factor in this game. The Celtics shot 33-for-41; the Heat shot 20-for-27.
– Rasheed Wallace played a stretch in the fourth quarter with five fouls. He eventually fouled out fighting for a rebounds with Udonis Haslem, and the Celtics bench quickly stepped in front of him on the sidelines to prevent him from arguing the call.
– After getting his first NBA start last weekend, J.R. Giddens did not play on Wednesday.
|Pierce and Rondo practice||01.05.10 at 3:24 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Where to begin with the Celtics injury situation Tuesday? Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce were on the floor taking part in practice. Kendrick Perkins and Eddie House were home with the flu. Just for good measure, injured swing man Marquis Daniels was spotted sweating through a treadmill workout while the team practiced and Kevin Garnett is definitely not playing on the road trip.
“Yeah,” Doc Rivers said to the media as they tried to sort through where to begin their questions. “The circus continues.”
The good news is that Pierce and Rondo both took part in most of the practice session Tuesday and it seems likely that they will both play Wednesday against Miami, although Pierce looks like the safer bet right now.
“They looked all right,” Rivers said. “Paul looked good. Rondo, you really couldn’t tell. He didn’t do much. So we’ll see tomorrow. I think he’s going to go but I wouldn’t write that down in pen for sure. Paul probably will go tomorrow it looks like, so that would help us a lot. Getting one of those guys back I’d be very happy and if we got both back it would be absolutely fantastic.”
Rondo left without talking to reporters for the second straight day although he did tell Yahoo!’s Marc Spears that he expects to play against the Heat. Pierce did talk and he said that while he’s not 100 percent, he’s feeling confident about returning to the court. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tony Allen’s learning curve||01.04.10 at 4:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM — It is one the great paradoxes of Tony Allen’s career that his biggest problem –besides staying healthy — is turnovers, while his greatest strength is his versatility, which allows him to play multiple positions including, yes, point guard.
When Allen returned from his latest ankle ailment, Doc Rivers tried to make things simple, telling him to cut down on his turnovers and focus on playing defense. That was it. Now with Rajon Rondo hobbled by a hamstring injury, Allen is taking over the reins at the point where he will handle the ball much more than he did before and where things get decidedly more complicated.
One of Rivers great strengths as a game coach is putting his players in a position to succeed, and to that end he had Ray Allen bring the ball up the floor against the Raptors on occasion. But with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett also out of the lineup, Rivers can’t afford to have his best scoring option get bogged down in running the team, so the job falls to Tony Allen. It is, as he said, a learning experience. Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierce, Rondo question marks for Miami||at 3:05 pm ET|
Thibodeau said no decision has been made on whether Pierce would travel with the team to Miami for Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
|Injury situation comes into focus||01.02.10 at 11:04 pm ET|
The Celtics shed a little light on their developing injury situation Saturday night.
As expected, Rajon Rondo joined Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the sidelines. Doc Rivers said he was didn’t want his young point guard to make his tender hamstring worse, and after reviewing Rondo’s performance against Phoenix, Rivers said he was concerned that Rondo was trying to over-compensate for the injury. The decision to rest him was set in precautionary terms. “I think he wanted to play,” Rivers said before adding that trainer Eddie Lacerte makes the final call.
While Rondo sat, Pierce detailed his experiences last week, which involved a higher than expected white-cell count and an additional surgery to deal with fluid and an infection in his knee. (Go here for more details). If all goes well Pierce might practice Monday before the team heads to Miami to start a three-game road trip, but that’s far from certain. Rivers called it 50-50 and Pierce said he was “day-to-day.”
What is certain is that Rondo and Pierce are far more likely to rejoin the team before Garnett does. Since details of his hyper-extended knee have surfaced, Garnett has been pushed back from likely to miss the next two games, to possibly out for as much as 10 days from now. That could have Garnett out of the lineup for as many as five games, but even that is far from a hard target.
“I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I really don’t.”
If that sounds eerily familiar to last season, well, it is. The difference, perhaps, this time around is the Celtics may be better-equipped to deal with Garnett’s absence for an extended — and unknown –period of time this season.
For starters, the stakes are much obviously lower now than they were last season. The playoffs are nowhere in sight and the Celtics hot start has given them ample room for Garnett to take his time and heal properly.
The offseason addition of Rasheed Wallace also gives the Celtics a reasonable facsimile of Garnett’s production and Wallace played perhaps his best game of the season against the Raptors Saturday night. He worked effectively inside on the post and his timely outside shooting helped loosen up the Raptors interior defense, which frankly wasn’t all that tight to begin with.
“When Rasheed wants to be, he can be one of the best post players in the game,” said Kendrick Perkins, echoing what so many have said over the years. “But, when he comes to play and he’s focused, man, he’s great.”
The Celtics will need more performances like this from Wallace over the next few weeks, whose play can accurately be described as uneven through the first 32 games. “Rasheed shows you he can play almost every night,” Rivers said. “He doesn’t play well every night, but he’s getting better each game.”
The third factor with Garnett is that the Celtics have been through this once before. The veteran players are mature and grounded enough to know that it will take some time for Garnett to return and they are prepared to deal with his absence, no matter how long it lasts.
“With Kevin, the big thing is we just want to stay afloat and stay on top of the East until he gets back,” Perkins said. “We don’t want him to feel like he has to rush back.”
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