Celtics notes: Rivers lets players call the shots

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Celtics notes: Rivers lets players call the shots

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM - For years, Doc Rivers has been regarded as a players coach. Turns out he lets his players do some of the coaching as well.

During Saturdays practice, Kendrick Perkins stepped off the exercise bike and reached for a whiteboard. His teammates huddled around him as he drew up a play for the white squad.

This exercise is something Doc Rivers has encouraged with his players.

Weve done that the last couple of days, he said. Were trying to let the players run the scrimmage. It tells you a lot as a staff, who they think should shoot, whos taking the ball out. They run all our stuff, which is amazing. But its good that theyre doing it. It makes them think and I think its good for them.

Rivers did the same as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He suggested a scheme to then-coach Mike Fratello, which ended up being the winning play of the game. Years later, Rivers used a play created by Gabe Pruitt to record a victory for the Celtics.

Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen draw up the most plays for the green team, while Delonte West, Glen Davis, and Perkins call the most for the white team.

Kevin Garnett is maybe the worst guy, Rivers laughs. I dont even think they allow him to have the pen in his hand anymore.

As for most successful, he gives the nod to Rondo and Allen. Rondo concurs.

Im the point guard, he told CSNNE.com. Probably Paul is second-best. But hes been in the system the longest time so he has an advantage. Its nothing special. We just know the system, just knowing were guys are supposed to be. I know what Paul does, so as far as execution, its big for us.

Both players and coaches benefit from letting the team call the shots. It also an opportunity for the players to have a small glimpse into Rivers world.

You learn a lot because first of all, you see what theyre thinking, said Rivers. You find out who they think should take the shots, you find out who you think should be in, and who they think can make plays. I think what they learn is, they get frustrated when guys dont execute. And then I can say, Yeah, thats how I feel all game.

Only one can start at the five

Rivers says as of now, Shaquille ONeal is in the first unit. He believes both Shaq and Jermaine ONeal are playing well, but Jermaine is further behind because of injuries.

I dont think they care but I think theyre both going for it, Rivers said of the starting center role. I think at the end of the day when you decide, theyre going to be able to live with it. But theyre going after each other. And I love it. I think its good for practice.

Shaq already feels comfortable playing with the other starters.

I knew I was going to gel with all the guys, he said. I watched them come up. I know where Kevin wants the ball, I know what to say to him. I know where Paul and Ray want the ball. I know what Rondos going to do. Just having the major experience and watching these guys and being able to play with other great players.

Rating the Shaq-tue Experience: On Friday Shaquille ONeal posed as a statue in Harvard Square and was flocked by herds of fans wanting to get near the big man. ONeal had a good time but, like a true pro, found room for improvement in his performance.

I moved a little bit, he said. Im disappointed in myself. I moved a couple times. One of my butt cheeks shut off circulation in one of my butt cheeks, so I had to reposition the gluteus maximus. But other than that, it was nice. People out there are nice, kids out there are nice, and it was a fun time.

So what was the funniest thing Shaq heard from the fans?

Somebody said he was my son, he said. And I had to look up and make sure that he really wasnt my son.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”