Celtics

Doc Rivers ran into Rajon Rondo at Boston hotel after Laker's game-winner

Doc Rivers ran into Rajon Rondo at Boston hotel after Laker's game-winner

A pair of Los Angeles transplants apparently had a serendipitous reunion in Boston on Thursday night.

After Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo buried his former team with a buzzer-beater at TD Garden, he headed back to the team hotel -- where his former coach, Doc Rivers, had just arrived ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers' game versus the Celtics on Saturday night.

Naturally, the two spent time catching up after Rondo's heroics.

"We actually ended up in the same hotel, so I had a chance to talk to him for a long time," Rivers said of Rondo before Saturday's game in Boston, as aired on NBC Sports Boston. "I see him a lot. You know, we live in the same city now so we talk a lot, I see him a lot.

"I was happy for him. I’m surprised that that was his first game-winner."

Rondo indeed had never hit a game-winner before in his career, which began with a nine-season stint under Rivers in Boston. If you believe in karma, you can blame Rondo's buzzer-beater on Kevin Garnett, who showed up to the Garden rocking Rondo's old Celtics No. 9 jersey.

"Kevin was in the building in a Rondo (jersey) -- I wasn’t sure what he was doing," Rivers said. "Like, does he cheer for the Celtics? Kevin confused me the other night. But it was a good look on him. The green was a very good look on him.”

Rivers also was asked about the state of this current Celtics team as it attempts to find its groove entering the playoffs. He seems optimistic.

"I look at them and think they’re in a fine place," Rivers added. "They’ll be fine. We won a lot (during the 2007-08 season), and that made it look easier, so the winning covered up a lot of stuff. It does. I think it looked easier.”

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10 things to watch during the Celtics' last 10 regular-season games

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File photo

10 things to watch during the Celtics' last 10 regular-season games

Kyrie Irving has made no secret about not putting too much stock into what happens between now and the playoffs, a period of time when both he and Brad Stevens agree will include him sitting out some games to rest. He’ll be joined by Al Horford among those getting some rest, and don’t be surprised if you see Marcus Morris, Jayson Tatum and a handful of other players get a night or two off before the playoffs start. 

Still, as important as being well-rested is, these remaining games do have some importance. First, the Celts would like to overtake Indiana for the fourth seed and get home-court advantage for their first-round playoff series. And there are other things that need some attention going forward.

And with that, here are 10 things to pay attention to during the Boston Celtics’ last 10 games of the regular season. 

Click here for the gallery.

Why Danny Ainge isn't buying Celtics' "gloomy and doomy" outlook

Why Danny Ainge isn't buying Celtics' "gloomy and doomy" outlook

The Boston Celtics' 2018-19 season has been a disappointment to date.

That's fair to say, as a squad picked by many to win the NBA's Eastern Conference enters Thursday as the No. 5 seed. With one more loss, the Celtics will be guaranteed their worst record since the 2015-16 season, when they lost in the first round.

But here's the catch with this group: The potential is still there. Kyrie Irving likes the Celtics' chances against anyone in the East, and if everyone is healthy -- they've missed Aron Baynes for big stretches and have had to be patient with Gordon Hayward as works back from ankle surgery -- it's not hard to see Boston making a deep playoff run.

To no one's surprise, Danny Ainge agrees.

"I feel like it's not as gloomy and doomy," Ainge said Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" after the Celtics' 118-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers the night before. "I see a lot of really good things happening. 

"Gordon was one of those things as he was starting to come back. I mean, his presence makes a difference. Baynes has been out a lot this year, and his presence makes a difference."

Ainge then made an interesting point:

"Statistically, in a lot of ways we're better than we were in our 53- and 55-win seasons of the last couple years. And I believe that we are. So, time will tell."

The Celtics' 2016-17 and 2017-18 teams finished first and second in the East's regular-season standings, respectively, and both reached the Eastern Conference Finals, overachieving despite a lack of firepower.

But Ainge is right: This C's squad, while on pace for a significantly worse record, does outperform those groups in several key metrics. The '18-'19 Celtics boast a 4.8 net rating, fifth in the NBA and the team's highest net rating since 2010-11. They're averaging more points per game (112.7), are shooting better from the field (46.5 percent), are playing at a higher pace (99.7 possessions per 48 minutes) and are committing fewer turnovers (11.6 turnover percentage) than each of the previous two seasons.

Of course, those numbers don't mean much when you blow double-digit leads to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers in back-to-back games or lose to lowly clubs like the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns.

But recent wins over the defending champion Golden State Warriors and pesky Sacramento Kings give us an idea of what Ainge is talking about: When things are going well, the Celtics can compete with (and beat) anybody.

We'll find out in just over two weeks if Boston can find the consistency to prove Ainge right.

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