Celtics

Celtics notes: Rivers lets players call the shots

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Celtics notes: Rivers lets players call the shots

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM - For years, Doc Rivers has been regarded as a players coach. Turns out he lets his players do some of the coaching as well.

During Saturdays practice, Kendrick Perkins stepped off the exercise bike and reached for a whiteboard. His teammates huddled around him as he drew up a play for the white squad.

This exercise is something Doc Rivers has encouraged with his players.

Weve done that the last couple of days, he said. Were trying to let the players run the scrimmage. It tells you a lot as a staff, who they think should shoot, whos taking the ball out. They run all our stuff, which is amazing. But its good that theyre doing it. It makes them think and I think its good for them.

Rivers did the same as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He suggested a scheme to then-coach Mike Fratello, which ended up being the winning play of the game. Years later, Rivers used a play created by Gabe Pruitt to record a victory for the Celtics.

Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen draw up the most plays for the green team, while Delonte West, Glen Davis, and Perkins call the most for the white team.

Kevin Garnett is maybe the worst guy, Rivers laughs. I dont even think they allow him to have the pen in his hand anymore.

As for most successful, he gives the nod to Rondo and Allen. Rondo concurs.

Im the point guard, he told CSNNE.com. Probably Paul is second-best. But hes been in the system the longest time so he has an advantage. Its nothing special. We just know the system, just knowing were guys are supposed to be. I know what Paul does, so as far as execution, its big for us.

Both players and coaches benefit from letting the team call the shots. It also an opportunity for the players to have a small glimpse into Rivers world.

You learn a lot because first of all, you see what theyre thinking, said Rivers. You find out who they think should take the shots, you find out who you think should be in, and who they think can make plays. I think what they learn is, they get frustrated when guys dont execute. And then I can say, Yeah, thats how I feel all game.

Only one can start at the five

Rivers says as of now, Shaquille ONeal is in the first unit. He believes both Shaq and Jermaine ONeal are playing well, but Jermaine is further behind because of injuries.

I dont think they care but I think theyre both going for it, Rivers said of the starting center role. I think at the end of the day when you decide, theyre going to be able to live with it. But theyre going after each other. And I love it. I think its good for practice.

Shaq already feels comfortable playing with the other starters.

I knew I was going to gel with all the guys, he said. I watched them come up. I know where Kevin wants the ball, I know what to say to him. I know where Paul and Ray want the ball. I know what Rondos going to do. Just having the major experience and watching these guys and being able to play with other great players.

Rating the Shaq-tue Experience: On Friday Shaquille ONeal posed as a statue in Harvard Square and was flocked by herds of fans wanting to get near the big man. ONeal had a good time but, like a true pro, found room for improvement in his performance.

I moved a little bit, he said. Im disappointed in myself. I moved a couple times. One of my butt cheeks shut off circulation in one of my butt cheeks, so I had to reposition the gluteus maximus. But other than that, it was nice. People out there are nice, kids out there are nice, and it was a fun time.

So what was the funniest thing Shaq heard from the fans?

Somebody said he was my son, he said. And I had to look up and make sure that he really wasnt my son.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

Young Celtics playing high-level defense without fouling a lot

Young Celtics playing high-level defense without fouling a lot

When you’re an NBA rookie or early on in your career, there’s so much to learn, especially when it comes to playing defense.
 
Despite having at least two players with a year or less experience in the starting lineup and at least three or four other rookies who see regular action, Boston’s top-ranked defense has been able to do the seemingly impossible – defend without fouling a lot.
 
Boston comes into tonight’s game against Atlanta averaging 19.8 fouls committed per game which is the ninth-lowest total in the league.

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Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has some ideas as to how the team has been able to defend without fouling a ton.

“Our length, being able to communicate on the fly, having a system that’s predicated on shrinking the floor, just being very active,” Irving said. “Obviously, we’re going to foul. But the times we don’t foul, we limit teams to some tough shots, some tough two’s or some tough contested threes; I feel we put ourselves in great position. And then when you have guards down there rebounding as well as bigs down there boxing out and staying active it makes all our jobs easier, all five connected out there. We understand the importance of valuing each possession.”
 
The qualities that Irving talks about make sense when you’re talking about the qualities of an elite team defensively.
 
But for the Celtics to have so much youth tossed into such prominent roles, it is unusual to see everything seemingly come together so quickly.
 
“They utilize their length appropriately,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “They’re both long for their positions; that helps. So, you’re not playing Jaylen at the 3 (small forward) as much, and Jayson (Tatum) at the four (power forward) as much. You’re playing them at the two (shooting guard) and three (small forward) a lot. So, they can use that length rather than try and have to battle.”

Irving points out there’s added incentive to play at a high level defensively without fouling.

“If you don’t, you’ll be on the bench,” Irving said. “Brad has made that very clear. If the effort isn’t being put out there, and you’re not paying attention and you’re not preparing the way all of us should be preparing, that goes from the head coach all the way down to the 15th guy, if you’re not preparing the way you should and not perfecting your craft outside the game and that’s being very diligent, understanding what we’re trying to do in strategy, understanding our system, why it works, and why we’re doing it, then why the hell would you expect to play? So, he made it very simple. All the guys understand that. We’re a young team, but what we’re trying to accomplish will take a lot of energy and effort and focus. They understand that at a very young point in the season.”

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Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'

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Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'

You know who else - besides Charles Barkley - isn't impressed by the Celtics' 14-game winning streak?

Their coach. 

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At the shootaround in Atlanta before the Celtics attempt to make it 15 in a row tonight against the Hawks, Brad Stevens told reporters, including ESPN's Chris Forsberg, that his team hasn't played well enough to make the streak "valid." 

“We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid in my opinion,” Stevens said."We’ve figured out ways to win games. We gotta play a lot better.”

The Celtics have come back from double-digit deficits a number of times in the streak. Stevens said they're fortunate those rallies have kept the streak going.  

"We've got to be better, and we know that," Stevens said. "We can't get so caught up in the results of all these games and ride that emotion. We've been fortunate to win a lot of the games in this streak, including Thursday night [92-88 over the defending champion Golden State Warriors]. If we dig ourselves a 17-point hole every other game, it's not going to be as much fun as we've had recently."