Locked out or not, Rivers prepares for the season

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Locked out or not, Rivers prepares for the season

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
BOSTON This summer, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers traveled to China to watch his son, Austin, a member of the Duke basketball team. Later this week, he's headed to Belgrade to see his oldest son, Jeremiah. And you can bet he's checked in a few times with his daughter, Callie, whom Rivers says is in graduate school at the University of North Carolina.

After deep playoff runs with the Celtics that took up most of the spring and left him drained in the summer, Rivers loves being able to hit the road and see his kids seemingly whenever he wants to.

"I needed a little break," he said on Monday as the C's celebrated their 25th year as a corporate partner of New England Baptist Hospital. "I have it now."

Rivers, like most NBA coaches and fans, media, etc. is ready for the NBA season to get started.

But there's this itty-bitty snag in that plan, better known to you and me as the NBA lockout, which is now in its fourth month of existence.

The players union and owners have been meeting more frequently the past couple of weeks, but progress toward a new deal has been moving with glacier-like quickness.

Some preseason games (43) have already been canceled, with more expected to be wiped out soon.

Each day passing without a deal in place puts the expected Nov. 1 start of the season in greater jeopardy.

"It's tough," Rivers said of not knowing when the season will begin. "You're just used to working, preparing and getting ready."

While the work load isn't nearly what it usually is this time of year, Rivers and his staff haven't spent the entire summer on the golf course.

Rivers said he's "driving his coaches crazy" this week as they gather to start discussing this upcoming season.

They'll meet every day until he leaves to see Jeremiah play for KK Mega Visura, a team in Serbia's A League.

Just because there are no games to be played and no players they can work with doesn't mean Rivers and his staff can sit back and relax.

"We have to do our jobs," Rivers said. "We have to prepare and when they say go, we'll be ready to go."

Every season presents a different set of challenges for Rivers, and this one will be no different.

However, making things more complicated are the many unknowns for both the Celtics and the NBA as a whole.

That's why Rivers and his staff were up late Sunday night, brainstorming over the various options that they'll have to consider once the NBA owners and players union reach an agreement on a new CBA.

"Well, we have all kinds of plans," Rivers said. "But we don't know what the plans will be until everything is done. We're just going to be patient and when they say 'go,' we'll be ready to go."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”