WALTHAM The Boston Celtics will have an additional guest with them for their playoff series against Atlanta - Flip Saunders.
The former Washington Wizards coach, who also coached Kevin Garnett for a number of years in Minnesota, will be traveling with the team when they face the Atlanta Hawks in their first-round playoff series that will begin on Sunday in Atlanta.
While the move may seem a bit unusual, here are a couple things to keep in mind.
Rivers has had an open door policy for fired coaches to come around his team during the season. Often they come to practices, but with the condensed schedule there have been few opportunities for that this season.
Saunders and Rivers are also good friends who have bounced ideas off one another for quite some time. Having Saunders around won't usurp any power from the current coaching staff.
More than anything, Saunders will be a consultant to the coaching staff, providing insight that could prove extremely beneficial in what may be a tougher playoff series than most might anticipate.
And despite his struggles in Washington that ultimately led to him being fired, Saunders is still considered one of the better offensive minds in the NBA. His best work has come with veteran-rich teams; a team like the Celtics.
While Rivers has certainly proven his acumen in terms of drawing up plays, he is well aware that having another set of eyes and ears around - and of course, someone he trusts - can do nothing but help the Celtics in their quest to bring home Banner 18.
Watch the highlights of the Boston Celtics 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks, and hear from head coach Brad Stevens and Celtics own Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas.
BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.
Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.
“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”
Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.
Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.
“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”
This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.
Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.
Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.
Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.