Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers' prescription for Kyrie to stay in Boston? Keep winning

Doc Rivers' prescription for Kyrie to stay in Boston? Keep winning

BOSTON – Doc Rivers has been on both sides of the All-Star free agency pendulum, having convinced some to re-sign long-term while others decided to take their talent elsewhere.

His old team here in Boston will find themselves in a similar predicament next summer when a number of the team’s top players become free agents with five-time all-star Kyrie Irving leading the charge.

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Rivers, who was in town as a co-host to the ABCD fundraiser at the TD Garden on Tuesday night, acknowledged there are likely a number of factors that Irving will consider.

“At the end of the day, I think it’ll come down to winning,” Rivers told NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “I really believe that. If you win enough, they usually want to say.”

Of course, there are exceptions to that with the most notable in recent years being Kevin Durant.

A perennial all-star, Durant played for one of the top teams in the Western Conference, Oklahoma City, but decided to join forces with the already-stacked Golden State Warriors and has won two championships in three seasons with them.

While the possibility of Irving leaving will be one of the story lines all season, that’s not something Rivers would recommend being all that concerned about.

“I’m not usually concerned going into the year about the guy leaving,” Rivers said. “I’m always concerned about the guy being focused while he’s here. If he’s focused while he’s here and doing all the right things, that usually tells me he wants to stay. If he’s not, it tells you otherwise.

Rivers added, “there’s going to be a lot of talk. He’s going to have to drown out a lot of stuff, or just say, “I’m staying with the Celtics.” That would be the easy way.”

When Irving asked to be traded from Cleveland last year, it was clear that part of Irving’s thinking process involved landing with a team that he would lead.

He has that in Boston.

"Kyrie's the leader of our team, the head of our team," Boston's Al Horford said earlier this year. 

Although it wasn’t an absolute necessity, Irving was used to making deep playoff runs and certainly wanted to wind up somewhere that would allow him that opportunity.

He has that in Boston, evident by the Celtics getting to the Eastern Conference finals last season while he sat out because of an infection in his surgically repaired left knee.

Irving is the face of this team.

They win with and without him and are built in a way that will likely keep them in the deep playoff picture for years to come.

 “It’s planned for him to be here a long time; it’s set up for that,” said Rivers who added, “We’re living in a time where guys want to test the free agent market. I think we just have to get used to it.”

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Doc Rivers sees similarities with his '08 C's, current Celtics team

Doc Rivers sees similarities with his '08 C's, current Celtics team

BOSTON – You would have to go back to the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics squad to find the last time the Celtics were such prohibitive favorites to come out of the East… until now.

Those kinds of lofty expectations have made some reminisce about the team that won it all in 2008, a team that the man who coached them – Doc Rivers – sees some similarities with this current Brad Stevens-coached group.

“It’s similar,” said Rivers, a co-host along with Stevens and award-winning journalist Bob Ryan of the ABCD Hoop Dreams fundraiser at the TD Garden. “The difference is this team has kind of been together a little bit where our team was pretty new.”

Prior to the 2007-2008 championship season, the Celtics acquired Ray Allen via trade on draft night and later added Kevin Garnett via trade from Minnesota. They joined forces with Paul Pierce to form a Big Three which led the Celtics to the franchise’s league-best 17th NBA title.

This group stepping onto the floor spent most of last season together, although Gordon Hayward was lost for the season after just five minutes of play, and the Celtics were without their top player Kyrie Irving for the team’s postseason run, which ended in a Game 7 loss to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Embarking on his sixth NBA season, Stevens is well versed on the overly optimistic views that just about every team in the NBA has at this time.

“One of the things about all 30 teams at the start of the season, is everybody is looking at their upside and looking at their best possible scenario,” Stevens said. “Everyone feels great where they are. Nobody’s played a game yet; nobody’s lost a game yet.”

For Boston, Stevens believes the key to success this season isn’t all that different than it was a year ago.

“We just need to be the best version of ourselves,” he said. “We can’t skip steps. We can’t talk about being the favorite. We can’t talk about being in the mix. We can’t talk about being a playoff team. We have to go back and earn all that.”

Added Rivers: “I don’t think anyone doesn’t want that expectation. You want to go into the season, you want to be the favorite, you want people to pick you. It doesn’t matter if they do or not if you think you have that type of team. I guarantee you if no one picked the Celtics this year – that’s not going to happen - but if they did, they would think they’re going to win anyway. That’s all that matters. I had a group like that here, and it was a great group to have.”

And while the expectations may be higher now than they have ever been for a Stevens-coached team here in Boston, it’s clear that he has a high level of comfort having those expectations placed on this particular group of players.

 “One thing I will say is, you would rather be in the position where you have expectations and having everybody back because that means the guys in the locker room are the ones that earned them,” said Stevens, referring to his team which returns everyone from last year’s regular playing rotation. “Having earned expectations is a positive thing.”

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Anything is Podable podcast Episode 10: Dynasty derailed

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Anything is Podable podcast Episode 10: Dynasty derailed

The final installment of our Anything is Podable podcast looks at the aftermath of the Celtics' championship season from 10 years ago. 

After raising the 17th banner to the rafters of the Garden, the Celtics were the heavy favorites going into the 2008-09 season. A series of injuries over the next few years, including a fateful February night in Utah where Kevin Garnett landed awkwardly trying to finish off an alley-oop, derailed the dream of back-to-back NBA titles.

In 2010, a Finals rematch with the Lakers, but another injury - this time to Kendrick Perkins - led to the C's squandering a lead in Game 7.

The years that followed included the dismantling of "The Big Three", with Ray Allen controversially signing with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami. The team talks openly about Allen's disappointing departure.

Paul Pierce, Garnett and Doc Rivers all left the following summer, with Danny Ainge hitting the reset button once again in pursuit of the team's 18th championship banner.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, the podcast is the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe here or through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.

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