Locked out or not, Rivers prepares for the season


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.

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Following Thursday’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be on the prowl to rebound – literally – from its first defeat of the season.

Because for all that did not go right in Thursday night’s loss, the way Boston was beaten on the boards stands out emphatically.

“They got 24 more shots than us. We only turned it over (12) times,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “So that’s the obvious place they’re getting their possessions, on the glass. That’s going to be the number one thing, that has been the number one thing. It’s something we’ve talked about. We have to get better at it.”


Boston was out-rebounded 55-36 on the boards which heavily factored into Chicago’s 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.

In the Celtics' 122-117 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, Boston won the overall rebounding battle 47-44, but had just 12 offensive rebounds compared to Brooklyn's 15 offensive boards. Despite the close margin, the Nets won the battle on the offensive glass running away, outscoring the Celtics 23-13 in second-chance points.

Stevens decided to start Tyler Zeller ahead of Amir Johnson to begin the third quarter, hoping Zeller would be a better matchup on the glass than Johnson who did not grab a single rebound in the 11 minutes of court time he got in the first half.

While Zeller did do a few good things on the glass and scoring in half-court sets, it wasn’t enough to swing the momentum Chicago was steadily gaining due to its ability to control the boards.

“I wasn’t real surprised but at the same time I knew it could happen,” Zeller told reporters, referring to Stevens’ decision to have him start the second half. “They did a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They beat us up on the boards, especially the first half. It’s something we have to get better at and continue to grow at.”

And it’s not a one-player or one-position issue, either.

Usually we think of bigs when it comes to rebounding. But Boston’s guards need to step up their rebounding game as well.

The struggles thus far have to be put in the context of this being just two games, the latter being the season opener for the Bulls who were jacked up more than usual due to it being the first game for Chicago native Dwyane Wade and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

“We have to focus on boxing out,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Guards have to do a better job. Guys like me, Al (Horford), Amir (Johnson), Tyler (Zeller) ... We have to do a good job of coming in the weak side and grabbing those; just focus on it, pay more attention to detail.”