Doc Rivers Talks Celtics' Trade for Kyrie Irving, Danny Ainge

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25:  Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers talks to the media at a press conference after Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Utah Jazz during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Boston Celtics had a busy offseason, and in doing so, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers thought the team addressed what was an issue with the existing roster.

"They went out and got talent, man. That's gonna show," Rivers said, per the Boston Herald's Stephen Hewitt. "That's gonna show. I think what they've really done, to me, what they didn't have in the past, and I think every team has to have it, you have to have closers. You can be as good as you want to be, and at the end of the game you need to have guys who are going to close the game for you. Now they have those. I don't know if they've had that in the past, and now they do."

Rivers added that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens are "never scared to make moves or changes," as evidenced by their offseason moves.

Boston signed Gordon Hayward, which was largely expected. The team then threw a curveball when it acquired Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers, sending the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round pick, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder among other assets to Cleveland.

Whether Hayward and Irving are enough to put the Celtics over the top in the Eastern Conference is up for debate. But Boston is clearly building a roster that can not only compete in the short term but also put the team in a position to dominate the East for years to come should LeBron James leave the Cavs and head west.

Rivers' point about the Celtics lacking "closers" may be somewhat off-base, though. Boston ranked fifth in net rating (14.9) in clutch situations, according to NBA.com. Thomas was also second in the league in clutch points (223), per NBA.com.

Thomas' hip injury is unquestionably an unknown variable, and Ainge said it played some role in the team's decision to trade him. It's fair to expect Thomas may be a worse scorer in clutch situations, thus necessitating the addition of a scorer like Irving.

At the same time, much of the Celtics' success late in games could be chalked up to Stevens' coaching and the team's ball movement. Throwing in a ball-dominant guard such as Irving who relies heavily on isolation changes the equation and could ultimately make Boston a less efficient unit when the game is on the line.


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