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Since day one, I have been a fan of Doc Rivers. I liked him as a player and appreciated him as a coach. The former NBA point guard seemed perfectly equipped to handle the mega-ego's dropped on his clip board in the Summer of 2007. He proved that his freelance style of player-coaching was just what the Doctor ordered for a veteran team craving their first title.
While most NBA skippers over-coach their teams and allow them to make very few decisions without the call of a play, Rivers allowed his players to be independent thinking. He allowed them to call upon their experience to carry them through slumping stretches while not wasting a time out. For two seasons this philosophy worked to perfection on most nights.
As 2009 gave way to 2010, the Celtics were healthy, and deeper—adding Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels to the equation. As the talent continue to pile up on paper, the Celtics barked out lofty predictions of back-to-back titles, history-making defense, and 72 wins.
The Celtics started out the season winning their first six games in convincing fashion. Their opponents were averaging 81.5 points per game and being out-rebounded on a nightly basis. All of the player/coaches predictions seemed to be coming true but, as the Celtics were rolling over opponents, trouble proved to be brewing early on.
As early as November 4, the Celtics were showing cause for concern. They blew into Minnesota for a matchup against the lowly T-Wolves. They squeaked by them with a two point victory (92-90) but were out-rebounded, nearly tied in assists, and they allowed the Wolves to shoot 52 percent from the field. Cause for concern? At that moment, no.
Two nights later the Celtics returned to the Garden to face the streaking Suns. The Celtics were still holding on to the boards but they were completely outhustled by the Suns as Jason Richardson scorched them for 34 points.
I pinpointed that game as the first glimpse of the struggles that were to follow for this team. I re-watched that game this morning and, though the Celtics swagger was still in full effect, the lackadaisical style of basketball started to peak out of the parquet floor.
Though soon after, the Celtics ripped off an 11-game win streak, it was the team's only convincing stretch of the season. Injuries soon set in and the Celtics slumped into a struggling band players paused by anticipation. All season long, the Celtics have played in anticipation.
Anticipation of KG's return to form, anticipation of Big Baby's return, anticipation of the All-Star break, anticipation of the second half of the season. Possibly the most over-hyped injury of the season was that of Marquis Daniels. We all (including myself) put our faith in this stranger who was supposed to be a game changer. Doc continued to tell the media that Marquis is the missing link.
Daniels has returned, the Celtics are healthy, and they are still anticipating. On Friday night, a healthy Celtics team could not compete with a lively and determined Houston team that was playing for nothing. The Celtics had every opportunity to close out the Rockets at home and failed.
Now, as they have lost three straight home games, they are at risk of finishing this six game home stretch 2-4. Quite embarrassing. What did Doc have to say about it?
“We should have put it away—we had chances, we had great shots,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “We missed a ton of layups down the stretch. But there were so many little plays to me. No matter if you’re playing the Rockets or Cleveland—it didn’t matter who you were playing—you had to make those plays and we didn’t make them. So that was a disappointment.”
(Courtesey of the Boston Herald)
"Disappointment" Doc? Really?
It's more than "disappointing." It has become embarrassing. When is some one going to stand up and say it? Kevin Garnett had something to say about it:
“It’s what it is. I think for the most part the effort is there, the assignments are there...I guess teams are adapting and making plays and making adjustments toward the defense, and they’re just making shots. That’s all I can tell you.”
(Courtesy of the Boston Herald)
"It is what it is...?"
Did I just hear that correctly?
Did that come out of the BIG TICKET'S mouth?
"It is what it is..." makes me think this team (including their spiritual leader and savior of 2007-2009) are fine with the recent play. Sounds like the lack of urgency in figuring out how to remedy these disturbing deficiencies have trickled down from the befuddled coaching staff's predictable postgame rhetoric to the heart of the team.
Oh...and Kevin, if "the effort is there," I am not seeing it. Their seems to be very little effort and that's why the Garden continues to rain down boo's and get more involved in "peanut butter and jelly time" than any cheer that may make them look silly when they are let down.
In a season where individual franchise records have been broken by Pierce and Rondo, the Celtics have been unable to pull together as a unit. The body language is awful, their is zero camaraderie or team spirit, winning seems to be secondary and no lead has been too big. The C's have always been a team with a celebrated locker room. Not this season!
Locker room divides have been evident all season. The emerging youth movement seems to be on a detour around the aging core unit, and it's now hurting the team. The Celtics cannot rely on the Big Three showing up every night because that kind of dominance from the three senior members of the roster is now in the rear view mirror.
This was never more on display than during the closing minutes of Friday's night's home loss to the Rockets.
Ray Allen launched only two shots and was fouled out in 16 minutes of play. Kevin Garnett pulled in only three rebounds on a night that the C's were again dominated on the boards (41-35/15-11 O-boards). Garnett also missed four consecutive, clutch shot's in the closing minutes.
Coming down the stretch in regulation, Doc Rivers decided to go to his old faithful play of isolating Pierce at the elbow. Pierce drove, pump faked and received no reaction from his (2) defenders. The play was forced and failed while Rajon Rondo stood idle on the perimeter with his 23 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.
Why is Doc so ridged? Why doesn't he trust Rondo down the stretch? I notice it. I am frustrated by it. Do you think Rondo may be a bit frustrated too?
Pierce is undoubtedly the leader of the Celtics. He is the captain and a lifer in green and deserves the respect of fans and teammates. Pierce, however, is no longer the only player who can create offense in clutch situations. Rondo has become the future of the franchise. Rondo needs the ball in his hands down the stretch.
Just as the Celtics' Big Three are no longer the same players, neither is the team. When is Doc going to realize that? Rondo's new ability to hit jumpers, coupled with his blazing speed and ability to create good shot through penetrating and dishing is underutilized and it was never so obvious as in Friday's closing seconds.
“We played like a high school team at times, as far as the way our thought process was.’’
(Courtesy of the Boston Globe)
Enough said Doc.
Former NBA official Tim Donaghy, to appear on Celtics Late Night Show .
May 10 at 9 pm