Blakely: Coaches setting example of trust for Celtics

Blakely: Coaches setting example of trust for Celtics
March 7, 2013, 9:45 am
Share This Post

BOSTON — As well as Doc Rivers knows his players, his pulse on his coaching staff is even stronger.

So when assistant coach Armond Hill came over to him in the waning moments of Wednesday's game at Indiana and suggested the Celtics run a play they had called earlier, Rivers didn't hesitate to ride Hill's hunch.

The fact that the play worked when Jeff Green scored the game-winning basket with five-tenths of a second to play didn't matter.

It was yet another moment in an injury-riddled season full of moments in which the C's displayed the kind of trust that has come to define them as a team.

For all that this team has lost this season with injuries and players leaving for personal reasons (Darko Milicic), trust appears to be the one thing that has actually become greater in abundance as the team's level of adversity increased.

"And it starts with the coaching staff," C's guard Jason Terry told CSNNE.com. "They set the tone and we as players, follow."

That starts with Rivers who balances putting his imprint on games while embracing the reality that his assistants also must chip in.

Hill's recommendation wasn't the first - and won't be the last - significant contribution coming from his core of assistants whose role on the team is grossly under-rated.

In the last couple of games, the Celtics have gotten a lot of attention and praise for their use of a zone defense, a strategy that assistant coach Kevin Eastman has been encouraging Rivers to utilize from time to time.

That's not to say that Rivers is going to always follow up on every suggestion made by his assistants. But his willingness to hear them out consistently does not go unnoticed by the players.

And you have to believe that by seeing that, it makes the players more likely to buy into the need to trust their teammates - even the new guys.

Jordan Crawford has been the lone newcomer to the team to appear in every game. In Wednesday's victory, he missed a couple of shots early and had a few calls not go his way.

During time-outs, it was clear that his teammates continued to encourage him to keep shooting if his shot was available, and to stay aggressive.

He only had two points, but the message was clear: You're one of us now.

Following the win over the Pacers, Rivers made a point of mentioning that the team's surge towards victory came about with Crawford on the floor. And the reason he was on the floor? Rivers trusted him enough to be out there, which is something that none of the players take for granted.

Terrence Williams didn't play (coaches decision) on Wednesday, but he did see action in Tuesday night's win in Philadelphia.

Williams sat for three-plus quarters before Rivers called upon him at the end of the third. Thinking he was just on the floor to end the quarter, Williams was pleasantly surprised when Rivers decided to keep him out there to start the fourth quarter.

And to put that game in perspective at that time, the C's were on the short-end of an 8-0 run that ended the third quarter and were ahead by just five points going into the fourth. And Rivers was giving Williams a shot to start the fourth on a night when Avery Bradley seemingly could not miss, Courtney Lee's defense was solid and Jason Terry was having a decent night.

It wasn't about the matchups or fatigue. It was a trust thing.

"That's what you want, your coach to trust you in all situations," Williams told CSNNE.com.

And it's a lesson that not only holds true for players but assistant coaches as well.