In an era where ‘man managing’ and ‘developing systems’ seem to make up the bulk of a coach’s manual, the Boston Celtics’ Doc Rivers prefers a more old school approach.
While mentioning Eastern Conference rivals Miami Heat in an interview at the beginning of the season, he did anything but mince his words or recite new age coachisms
“I bring up Miami every single day to them (the team). I want them to hate them.’
No bland statements on ‘respecting the talents of his opponents’ or ‘looking forward to the challenges ahead’ for coach Rivers.
This statement certainly warmed the wintery hearts of Celtics fans that were questioning how a team with old and slowing legs could run with a Miami side in the prime of its youth.
Doc sent a clear, honest message to the fans and his players that he was going after their Eastern Conference rivals, and he expected them all to follow.
Rivers wants a fight, and today he may just get it in a much-hyped third game of a tied season series that has become one of the league’s most intriguing duels.
This intrigue stems largely from the ill feeling that began during last years playoff series, one in which a full strength Boston team went within a quarter of ousting the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
It further manifested in the off season with Ray Allen taking his 3 point shooting talents to south beach, significantly weakening the Celtics scoring options while boosting the already lethal shooting of their arch rivals.
It was a move that sat uneasily with many in bean town, not least of whom was the Celts 7 foot veteran Kevin ‘KG’ Garnett.
KG has made a career of rubbing people the wrong way, but seemed positively confused at being the one on the receiving end of a rubbing when news of Allen’s so called ‘defection’ leaked out.
Garnett soon recovered and was quick to point out “I don’t have Ray’s number anymore. I’m not trying to communicate with him.”
Way to pour gasoline on napalm fire Kevin!
Garnett is listed as a 50/50 chance of playing today, though I have a sneaking suspicion there will be a fair amount of painkillers being ordered for the power forward.
On the face of it the Celtics go into the contest battered bruised and with seemingly little hope of checking a LeBron James led Heat juggernaut, a team that is eyeing off a 23rd straight victory.
Rivers has been battling all season with the mix of his team that has the strange ingredients of old legs, inexperience and a perceived lack of talent.
And lets not forget Injury, the boom 6-9 rookie Jared Sulinger is out and they have missed his energy and production off the bench.
But most importantly Rivers has lost his point guard and chief orchestrator in Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is a Rivers type of player.
A quick thinking, pass first general who is not afraid to get in the face of players bigger and more talented.
He has become the heart and soul of this Boston team.
Injuries and the torturous schedule that is the NBA season should have put paid to the veteran all stars.
But against the odds Doc has the Celtics on an impressive 16-6 surge since Rondo’s injury, getting good production out of Courtney Lee, Avon Bradley as well as said veterans Garnett, Jason Terry and Paul Peirce.
Peirce, ‘The Truth’ as he is known, has been telling it like it is recently and always seems to pick up his production at the business end of a season.
Rivers is a master at managing the playing time of his most valuable players in Garnett and Peirce, and he seemingly has his team primed for a tilt at another top 4 finish in the East.
Its his ability to get the old stagers up for battle after battle that has seen the Celtics make yet another mid season run up the conference standings, and have them ready for another fight against an old foe.