Why Doc Rivers Couldn't Care Less About Boston Celtics' Slow Start
The Boston Celtics have gotten off to a sluggish start, standing 4-3 and tied for third place in the Atlantic Division. Their play thus far is not at all like that exhibited by the team that took the defending champion Miami Heat to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. However, head coach Doc Rivers has not voiced any panic or frustration about his team's performance.
While Celtics fans may be freaking out early in the season, Rivers has done exactly what he should be doing and is staying cool. He knows how much potential his team has and that it's only a matter of time before they come together as a unit and make the usual run to the postseason.
Keep in mind, the Celtics started last season 5-9, and they later ended up within a game of the NBA Finals. This year's roster looks a lot different, particularly since veteran shooter Ray Allen is now on the Miami Heat, but is still more than capable of going on a run both during the regular season and into the playoffs.
That said, Celtics fans should not wonder why Rivers has remained stone-faced thus far. Rather, they should realize why he isn't concerned about Boston's sluggish beginning to the season.
No. 5: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce Can Still Play
Pierce and Garnett may be getting older, but they can still be top producers at their positions and are the unquestioned leaders of the Celtics. They won a championship in 2008 with Rivers as their coach, so it's clear that he has had a positive effect on them.
Through seven games this season, Garnett has averaged 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The most miraculous part is that he hasn't missed any time due to injury.
Pierce has looked good too, posting 19.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The only real mark against the former Jayhawk is that he is shooting just 38 percent from the field. However, from long range, he is shooting 40 percent, and his defense has looked solid as well.
More importantly, while Pierce is one of the stars of the team and his scoring consistency has stumbled out of the starting gate, he's bound to right the ship and turn things around for the better.
Combined with Garnett and an MVP candidate in Rajon Rondo, he could easily help the Celtics make a run to the postseason.
No. 4: Postseason/Championship Experience
Though they are one of the NBA's older teams, the Celtics are a unit that knows all about being in the playoffs. Under Rivers, they have reached the playoffs six times and have been to the NBA Finals twice, winning in 2008.
The best part is that three of the key players from that championship team, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, are still on the team. These guys know how to play together and, more importantly, how to win together. The fact that the Celtics have been able to compete on such a level despite Garnett and Pierce getting older is amazing in itself.
That said, the Celtics' slow start this season is a mere bump in the road. They will recover from it and make a strong run for the Atlantic Division later in the season.
Come playoff time, teams will be fully focused so as to make sure that this deep and experienced team doesn't go into overdrive in the clutch.
No. 3: New Pieces Still Adjusting
After Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat, the Celtics engineered a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets to land sharpshooter Courtney Lee (pictured) in a sign-and-trade deal. GM Danny Ainge also brought in Jason Terry to be the sixth man.
Thus far, Lee has struggled mightily. He has averaged just 4.9 points and shot an abysmal 15 percent from long range. He has been replaced by Terry in the starting lineup and has played under 20 minutes in three of the past four games.
Terry has fared a bit better, averaging 11.9 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 37 percent from downtown.
While Lee's underperforming could be a cause for concern, it's still too early to call his signing a failure. He played in a fast-paced offense in Houston last season and now has to adjust to the slowed down defensive approach that Rivers employs.
He's bound to adapt at some point, and when he does, the Celtics will be all the better.
No. 2: Avery Bradley's Impending Return
Over the last month of last season, Bradley started to get significant playing time. In April, he averaged 15.1 points per game while shooting an incredible 52 percent from the field and an even more impressive 54 percent from three-point land.
Once he does come back, however, Bradley is going to provide the Celtics with a spark off the bench that most teams can only dream of. He may be on the smaller side at 6'2", 180 pounds, but he doesn't let that slow him down.
He's going to be a key player in the Celtics' success over the course of the season. If he can come back healthy, the team will be in a prime position to contend for a championship.
No. 1: The Players Love Doc Rivers
If there's anyone who deserves credit for the Celtics' success in recent years, it's Doc Rivers. Ever since the team put together its Big Three prior to the 2007-08 season, he has helped Boston regularly contend for a championship year after year. Even better, he has improved as a coach with each passing season.
The man has a 379-268 record in Boston, and his players clearly love playing for him. His devotion to tough defense and disciplined scoring is an old-school approach that, while dated, still works well.
That all being said, Rivers nor the Celtics fans need worry about the team's slow start. Rivers and his core group have been together for a long time, and each knows how the other works.
Once the future Hall of Fame coach's philosophies sink in among the others, this team will look truly dangerous.
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