Rivers takes the blame for Allen's departure

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Rivers takes the blame for Allen's departure

Doc Rivers doesn't blame Rajon Rondo for Ray Allen's departure to Miami. No, in fact, Rivers is putting the onus on himself.

In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, Rivers explained that the reason Allen left was because of his reduced role in the offense and because Rondo was given the freedom to be Boston's coach on the floor. Rivers said those were decisions that he made as a head coach, and so if there is blame to be handed out for Allen signing a two-year 6 million deal with the Heat and not sticking with Boston, it should be on the coach.

"People can use all the Rondo stuff and it was there, no doubt about that but it was me more than Rondo," said Rivers, who is working as an NBC analyst during the Olympics. "I'm the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I'm the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn't mean guys liked that and Ray did not love that because Rondo now had the ball all the time.

"Think about everything Allen said when he left, 'I want to be more of a part of the offense.' Everything was back at Rondo. And I look at that, and say, 'That's not Rondo's fault.' That's what I wanted Rondo to do, and that's what Rondo should've done. Because that's Rondo's ability. He's the best passer in the league. He has the best feel in the league. He's not a great shooter, so he needs the ball in his hands to be effective. And that bothered Ray.

"And not starting games bothered Ray. I did examine it, and the conclusion I came back to was this: By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray. If I hadn't done that, I would've been a hypocrite. In the opening speech I make every year, I tell the team: 'Every decision I make is going to be what's good for the team, and it may not be what's good for the individual.'"

Though Allen spurned Boston for a spot with the reigning NBA champions in Miami because he was unhappy with his role, Rivers wondered if he would have any more responsibility on a team already loaded with star power.

"Ray's got to do what's best for Ray," Rivers said, "but having said that, he's not going to start in Miami. And I doubt he gets the ball more. But I do think, for a guy like Ray and Paul and Kevin and Kobe Bryant, it's easier to go somewhere and do that, than have it taken from you where you're at.

"As a coach, you've got to do what's best for the team. If guys don't like it, they're going to leave. If they stay and don't like it, well, your team's going to suck anyway. Even if this happens, you still have to do it. You can't coach worrying about any individual. You've got to coach worrying about your entire team: Whether that gets you a championship or whether that gets you fired.

"I think it allows you to coach free. You're coaching with freedom because you know you're doing what you think is right. I always tell my guys: If I'm wrong, hopefully I'm smart enough, or my staff, or one of you guys because I do listen to you will tell me that I'm wrong. But not one player ever told me, 'Hey, I don't think you should start Avery.'"

Rivers said he knew in preseason that he wanted Allen to come off of the bench, but he had to wait for Avery Bradley to be ready to start. When Allen returned from an ankle injury and was relegated to a new role as sixth man, he struggled with the move.

He stopped responding immediately to Rivers' calls and texts, and Rivers then knew that the Celtics might have a hard time retaining the future Hall of Famer.

"I thought, 'Uh-oh, we're in trouble,'" Rivers said. "And I just knew that Ray feeling like he had lost his voice in the locker room was a big obstacle too."

When news broke that Allen would be signing with Miami, Rivers was upset. But not because he was headed to a rival.

"I was pissed at him," Rivers said. "I was pissed at him for his reasons for leaving. But what people don't get: I wasn't pissed at him for leaving for Miami. I could care less he went there. And that's a fact. With the fans, I know it was: How could he go to Miami? But once he decided he didn't want to stay with us, he has the right to wherever he wants.

"For a week or two, I was really disappointed, pissed, because I thought it was for all the wrong reasons," Rivers said. "It was more about himself, his team. And then, I realized: Well, it should be about himself. It was free agency. I wasn't thinking right.

"If Ray came back, it had to be because he was thinking:, 'We're going to work this stuff out, and we're going to win. And if he didn't come back, it was because he thought he couldn't work it out here. What they're asking him to do in Miami, he just couldn't do in Boston.

"But here's what wasn't going to change: The ball's not going to be in Ray's hands more, the ball's going to be in Rondo's hands. That's not going to change. Now that you've voiced you should have the ball more, or you want to start, or you want more freedom in the offense, that's not going to go away. It's going to be the same stuff. If he comes back, it's going to be because he's figured it out. If he leaves , it's going to be because he didn't get over it. Whatever he decided, his decision was right."

C's showed Patriots support in AFC semifinal game

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C's showed Patriots support in AFC semifinal game

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has a tremendous amount of respect for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and what he has built in Foxboro.

But it wasn't until Sunday’s playoff game between the Patriots and the Houston Texans did he actually see them play at Foxboro.

And while Stevens is from Indiana and is indeed an Indianapolis Colts fan, the Patriots have his support for a multitude of reasons.

“It was fun to watch,” said Stevens who attended the game with his father and his son. “When you talk about rooting interest, you root for who you know. I was definitely rooting for them. I hope they can go all the way. It was fun to watch.”

He wasn’t the only Celtic in Foxboro cheering on the Patriots who pulled away for a 34-16 win over the Texans.

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas was there watching from a suite.

“It was a nice. They won. I got a lot of backlash for switching up,” said Thomas, a Tacoma, Wash. Native who grew up rooting for the Seattle Seahawks.

“It was good, just to be on that field and be around those guys,” Thomas said. “You can tell, they’re focused on winning a championship, winning the Superbowl. You want to be around those type of players.”

That goes for coaches as well, which is why Brad Stevens has maintained a good relationship with Belichick who has created the kind of winning atmosphere that all coaches want.

“One of the things they’ve’ created is sustainability and culture,” Stevens said. “Any coach wants to be in a position where over the course of time every single year you suit up, you got a chance. Because of the commitment of doing things the way they want to do it … they’ve created that. I can’t say enough good things about the job that he’s done. I’ve got a chance to watch him up close. You feel pretty inadequate when you walk out of that building as a coach.”

Stevens has also been impressed with the way the Patriots have handled injuries and situations where  a key player has been down.

“There’s been a ton of change in the roster and he just keeps churning out wins regardless of who is on the field. Obviously (Tom) Brady has been a constant through all of that. But at the same time, there have been a lot of changes at a lot of significant positions. They just do their job well. That’s the bottom line.

Celtics being cautious with Avery Bradley's return from Achilles injury

Celtics being cautious with Avery Bradley's return from Achilles injury

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Before Sunday’s practice, Avery Bradley was off to one of the side courts working on his catch, two-dribble, pull-up game.
 
And once practice started, Bradley was on the floor with the rest of his teammates, participating in both contact and non-contact drills.
 
While his return on Sunday was certainly a positive, there’s still some uncertainty as to whether he’ll return to action on Monday against Charlotte after having missed the last four games with a right Achilles injury.
 
While he has made steady progress since suffering the injury earlier this month, the Celtics are being cautious about his return, knowing how a return too soon could set him and the Celtics back significantly.
 
Bradley’s value to the Celtics is not even up for debate, but the Celtics have managed to find ways to win despite being without their top on-the-ball defender and number two scorer.
 
“We’ve gotten good practice with not being with our key guys this year,” quipped Stevens. “So it’s just the next guy has to be ready to go. A lot of guys can fill in, and not try and replace one guy with another guy but rather by committee.”
 
Marcus Smart, a player Stevens has often referred to as the team’s sixth starter, has filled in for Bradley with the first unit.
 
In the last four games, Smart has averaged 14.0 points to go with 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.5 steals while shooting 40 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from 3-point range.
 
Terry Rozier has seen an uptick in his court time as well with Bradley out, resulting in him averaging 5.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists while shooting 60 percent (9-for-15) and 40 percent (2-for-5) from 3-point range.
 
Indeed, Bradley’s absence has afforded other Celtics an opportunity to step up and do so in a meaningful way that’s helping Boston win games.

Bradley has missed a total of five games on the season. Boston has managed to hold their own in his absence, posting a 4-1 record.

This recent Achilles injury has been the only setback of significance this season for Bradley.

We’re used to seeing Bradley improve from one year to the next, but this season has been nothing short of sensational for the sixth-year player.
 
His 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game are both career-highs. He’s also shooting 41.7 percent on 3s which is also a new career mark for the 6-foot-2 guard.