Doc Rivers

Isaiah Thomas: Brad Stevens 'by far the best coach in the NBA'

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Isaiah Thomas: Brad Stevens 'by far the best coach in the NBA'

Brad Stevens didn't receive a single vote for NBA Coach of the Year. This is because coaches vote for it and, as ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz shared recently, rival coaches roll their eyes at all the attention Stevens gets for his greatness. 

Translation: NBA coaches are jealous as helllllll of Brad Stevens. 

At any rate, rival players don't feel the same way as rival coaches. Isaiah Thomas, who wasn't afraid to passive-aggressively take jabs at Stevens in his time with the Celtics, tweeted Wednesday that Stevens is the best coach in the league. 

Evan Turner, now making a lot of money with the Trail Blazers because Stevens boosted his stock, was equally perplexed. 

The NBA is great because of it's pettiness. There might not be anything more petty than giving eight coaches -- including Doc Rivers -- Coach of the Year votes over easily one of the top two or three coaches in the league. 

Bradley finds a familiar face in L.A.

Bradley finds a familiar face in L.A.

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley spent seven seasons in Boston, but has found himself jettisoned off to two different teams in the last six months.
 
It’s the business side of things that no amount of time in the league will ever fully prepare you for.
 
But for the ex-Celtic, this latest move in many ways has him coming full circle in reuniting with Clippers boss Doc Rivers, who coached Bradley in Boston during the 6-foot-2 guard’s first four seasons in the NBA. 
 
That familiarity has been a plus for Bradley and can only help him tonight as the Clippers try to continue their winning ways against the Celtics. 
 
“It’s helped out a lot,” Bradley said. 
 
Rivers echoed similar sentiments. 

“It helps, probably for both [of us],” Rivers said.
 
However, one of the more significant differences from the time Bradley played for the Celtics under Rivers, was the offense. 

“We run so much more now,” Rivers said. “That’s who we are; that’s the type of team we have. And on the other end, he’s such a different player than when I coached him. He was so young. We wasted the first year trying to get him as a point guard and realized he’s more of a guard, he’s a heck of a player. His offensive game has opened up so much more, so . . . you don’t get this opportunity very often, when you have a young guy and then you get him back. But it’s been really cool to see the difference and the growth in Avery.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers.

 

L.A. REUNION

Former Celtics teammates and Tacoma, Washington natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are back together -- sort of. 
 
Both were part of deals at the trade deadline, with Thomas being shipped out to the Los Angeles Lakers while Bradley now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. 
 
Bradley said he has had conversations with his good friend/former teammate since the two were moved to teams in Los Angeles. 
 
In their conversations, Bradley has tried to remain upbeat with Thomas, who has come under heavy criticism in several circles. The negative vibe surrounding Thomas was, in part, a factor in the Cavs trading him. 
 
“All the negative press, all the bad things people are saying about him . . . I tell him everything happens for a reason and go out there and do what Isaiah Thomas does and that’s playing with confidence and helping his team win games,” Bradley said. 

TERRY ROZIER

One of the bigger influences on Terry Rozier since he has been in the NBA, has been Avery Bradley. When the two were teammates for the Celtics, Rozier would often turn to Bradley for advice as well as on-the-floor tips. Well Rozier has taken that advice and used it to become one of the more valuable role players off the Celtics bench this season. 
 
“This game is all about opportunity and confidence,” Bradley said. “So Terry is getting a great opportunity and he has confidence when he’s out there playing basketball. I’m happy for him. He’s definitely a guy that works hard and works on his game and now it’s paying off.”

TURNOVER A NEW LEAF

Boston is turning the ball over 13.9 times per game which ranks 12th in the NBA. Not bad . . . until you compare it to previous turnover numbers and rankings under Brad Stevens. Since Stevens’ rookie season, when the Celtics’ turnover average (15.3) ranked 27th in the NBA, Boston has consistently been a top-10 or borderline top-10 team in fewest turnovers committed per game. Having lost three of their last four games, Boston has averaged 14.6 turnovers, which ranks 25th in the league during that span. 

MONTREZL HARRELL

One of the more pleasant surprises for the Clippers this season has been the play of Montrezl Harrell, particularly his scoring around the rim on post-up plays. 

The 24-year-old forward has averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while playing 15.4 minutes per game. 
 
“He’s a great example, every year you talk about guys accepting their role and trying to be a star in their role. He’s a perfect example,” Rivers said. “Early on he was trying to find his way. And now he knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s been amazing.
 
Rivers added, “One of the things I didn’t know about him, was I didn’t know he was that good on the post. Last year in Houston, I don’t ever remember them throwing post passes to him. I didn’t go into the season thinking about it because I never seen it. You saw it in practice and you’re thinking, are our guys bad post players on defense? And you realize he’s just good on the post.”
 
In his last five games, Harrell has shot 71.1 percent (27-for-38) from the field. 

HORFORD IMPACT

Al Horford doesn’t score nearly as much as some fans (and media members) would like to see. But there’s no denying good things tend to happen for the Celtics when he’s on the floor. This season, Boston has an offensive rating of 106.9 when the five-time All-Star is on the floor. That number drops to 100.0 when’s off the court. The 6.9 differential is tops among all Celtics players this season. 
 

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Pierce reflects on day and career after the ceremony

Pierce reflects on day and career after the ceremony

BOSTON – Paul Pierce was vintage Paul Pierce on Sunday, dropping verbal pearls of wisdom all day. On the day his jersey No. 34 would be retired, what else would you expect?

Here’s the transcript of Pierce’s comments following his jersey number being raised high above the TD Garden floor with the other Celtics legends.

Q: How emotional was tonight for you?

PP: “It’s tough. When I was sitting out here in the back ready to go out I was just sitting here and my hands were shaking. Originally, I had a speech, I wrote down some points, but then last minute I was just like I’m going to go out there and say what I feel and hopefully I don’t forget important names that were part of this journey. This is just a special day. If I never make the Hall of Fame or anything, to go up and make the rafters as a retired number for the Celtics that’s just enough, that’s enough for me. Everything else is icing on the cake.”

Q: Re: Your tears getting emotional

PP: “I got emotional when I talked about my kids because for them to just sit here, they didn’t’ get a chance to see most of my career. My daughter was born April of the year we won it, my first daughter, so they didn’t really get a chance. For them just to see their dad and how appreciated he was in the city and to be able to leave a legacy to be able to come back years down the line and say that’s my dad, my dad’s number is up there. That means a lot to me. They will one day, if they don’t realize it now, they will one day.”

Q: When did it hit you as a player that there might be a day like this?

PP: “That’s easy, that’s easy. When [Cedric) Maxwell went up, I knew I had a chance (laughs)! Just kidding, I always tell Maxwell that joke like oh if you made it, then I’m definitely up there! You don’t know, you don’t know until it happens. I just thought the only thing you can do is just work as hard as you can for as long as you can and at the end of the day, you see what happens. When Wyc (Grousbeck) gave me that call this summer I was on the freeway stuck in traffic and I was like woah. After I was done like I know it could happen, but it happened so fast and I’m like wow really! A year after I’m out playing, I’m just like, man, I’m going up into the rafters and leaving a legacy, something that is going to be forever. Like I said when you are forever with the Celtics you’re forever. It means so much, it means a lot. I always tell guys with the way the NBA landscape is and how the collective bargaining agreement is and player movement all the time and I had a chance to think about it, my number could be up there without another number going up there for a long time. I think the days that you see a player playing 10-15 years for one franchise if probably over so that could be really special. Who knows.”

Q: What do you remember from your draft night and compare those emotions to today?

PP: “I think I was a little more pissed off during draft night. I was like happy I made the NBA, but I went 10 and that was the start of it. People just knew my competitive spirit. I was ticked off in going 10 and I wanted to just prove to everybody that I’m a better player, but things happen for a reason. I ended up a Boston Celtic. What are the chances? It's like hitting the lottery. I’m a top-five pick, projected number two, there’s no way I’m going past five I haven’t even talked to teams past the fifth pick and I end up the 10th pick as a Boston Celtic. Just the irony in all that. Being from LA and not liking the Celtics and this is where I am. It was meant to be, things happen for a reason, it was meant to be.”

Q: What were you thinking when you were pulling those ropes with your family?

PP: “I was thinking about the last time I pulled ropes up there I was tearing up crying and I was trying not to cry. When we raised the Championship banner that’s when it all came out, it came out bad that day. I was just trying to hold it together and I just knew that when I first saw the banner lift and I saw it straight and I saw my number there it was like man all the years I walked into the gym every day I looked up and I saw empty spots and I saw all the other jersey numbers. Now I’m on there, now I’m on there, and that’s forever. It’s just like wow I’m there and now I can say that’s the finish, I did the trifecta. I left a legacy. I had my high school jersey retired, my college jersey retired, but there is no greater honor than having your NBA jersey retired for the Boston Celtics, no greater honor.”

Q: Can you elaborate on Doc Rivers conversation that you thought this day would happen and what you did talk about?

PP: “The more and more I look at Doc, Doc is like a semi-prophet sometimes. He’s like guys people predicted us to win the Championship, the following year we got it, he’s like no this year. He always talked about we’re going come back one day for me and Kevin [Garnett] retired jersey, this happened. The time we put a $100 in the ceiling and said we’re going to be back, that happened. Doc he knows a thing or two and maybe I should talk to him a little bit more, maybe he can tell the future, but he gives you the vision and once you get the vision and you start working for it that’s a great trait. You got to see it before it happens to accomplish anything great.”

Q: Re: Talk about winning a championship with the Celtics

PP: “We have more championships than any other professional sports franchise at least that I know of in America. A tradition that is unmatched, legendary players, Hall of Famers history and now I can be a part of that. My name is going to be mentioned in all of that now. The players who won a Championship, the players whose number goes in the rafters, I’m a part of history and there is no better history than that. This is a class A, level one franchise and the funny thing is that I don’t say it because I was here, it’s true. The Boston Celtics is a name you put respect with, a name you put history with, a name you put tradition with and now I’m a part of it.”

Q: What does it feel like seeing all these tributes from other player, rivals, etc.?

PP: “I didn’t expect that at all, especially coming from rivals and it just helps me realize the impact that I was able to have and the respect that I was given throughout the course of my career. Maybe not a lot of the national media looked at me a certain way, but the players around the league they know. They know when they had to play against Paul Pierce what type of night it was going to be, they know that it wasn’t going to be easy, they know that I was going to compete, and it was going to be tough. You hear that from the greats around the league. You’ve heard Kobe (Bryant) say it, you’ve heard LeBron (James) say it. I wasn’t a flashy player or had the commercials and top-selling shoes, but I was a player that was well respected, and people know when I came into the gym that they had to be ready also. For them to give the praise they gave that means a lot because Magic Johnson was my idol and Kobe Bryant was my rival, it means a lot.

Q: What does it mean to you that both Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge mentioned the jump ball you grabbed to clinch Game 7 against Cleveland (in 2008) as your most iconic play?

PP: “Because, you know, scoring was something I did great, and I think the lot of the things that I – the little things I did, really went unnoticed, but I considered myself a really good all-around player.  It’s just that I had some scoring outbursts sometimes that just overshadowed all those other little things that I did.  You know, I did. And then, there would be nights where I didn’t score and I just passed the ball, which I thought was pretty underrated. And to get recognized as one of the biggest plays was a hustle play, you know that says a lot. That just shows you that I was just a scorer. I did other things to try to help my ballclub win.  I was willing to sacrifice, and it got to the point I didn’t really care too much about scoring.  I knew I could score. But when I had other guys around me, I could show other parts of my game. The other parts of my game started to show when I got other talents around me. So now the pressure wasn’t on me to score. And I just showed that I was a better all-around player than what was perceived at first.”

Q: Do you miss playing on days like this, in an environment like this?

PP: “Oh, without a doubt. I mean, when you go out there and you sit right there, I was like talking to Wyc (Grousbeck) and like, I don’t – I feel – “This is weird,” I said. I sit in the front row. This is the first time, maybe, I’ve been in the Garden and sit in the front row, and not have a uniform on. It was weird. It definitely gave me chills. Especially with LeBron (James) out there.  I wanted to be out there.”

Q: What do you think is your legacy?

PP: “Well, my legacy will be, obviously, being a Boston Celtic. But I want people to remember me about the things I was able to do in the community. Impacted lives I was able to change. Because at the end of the day, it’s more than basketball, to me.  And I get that trait from my mother. You know, I was able to impact the city, not only on the court but off the court. And you saw the different tributes up there, some of the programs I had in the city. And a lot of people don’t really talk about that. And I get more from that, just when I see kids in the stands today, or kids that come up to me when I’m out and walking in the Boston Common like, ‘I was part of your program. You know, you really inspired me.’ Hopefully, I can just be an inspiration for the newer generation of kids moving forward.  And that’s all. I was dedicated to the hard work. I wasn’t the flashiest, like I said, I wasn’t the highest jumping, but everybody knew I came to work and I worked hard every single day. And that’s all you can ask for.”

Q: What did it mean to hear Robert Parish call him the greatest offensive player in Celtics history?  And what message would you give to children who are trying to live their dream?

PP: “Well, when you get a comment like that from a guy like Robert, who’s seen, who’s played with some of the best, and then you hear guys like Tommy Heinsohn, before Robert, who says similar things, it’s just – you know, these guys know, I’m not here to judge myself or put myself in any kind of category with any of the players of the past. And so, everything that comes out their mouth is a compliment for me.  It’s an honor. Because these guys know the history. They’ve been a part of it. They know the players of yesteryear. And as far as what I want to tell the kids, what I said out there, just: You work hard, not to be better than the next man, but you work as hard as you can to get the best out of yourself. And that’s all you can ask for.  If you work as hard as you can and get the best from yourself – and that doesn’t matter if it’s sports and anything you do, that you can accomplish anything you want.  And I think I’m an example of that.  I wasn’t a highly-recruited as a young player, like you see guys come up from sixth, seventh grade.  I was a late bloomer.  Came along, eleventh and twelfth-grade year. I just wanted to go to college. And you’ve got to have small, short-term goals to reach bigger goals. And when you accomplish those, you set another goal. And I just want the kids to know, just, nothing replaces hard work. Period.”

Q: On behalf of all of us (in the press room), congratulations!

PP: “Thank you, guys. It’s been a pleasure being around a lot of you who I’ve – faces who I’ve seen over the years, who’ve been here. Some of you guys have grown facial hair, some of you have put on gray hair, some of you have lost hair.  But vice versa, me too.  So, thank you, and it’s been an honor and a pleasure.”

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