Rivers: 'I'm leaning heavily toward coming back'


Rivers: 'I'm leaning heavily toward coming back'

MIAMI -- The Celtics were beaten soundly by the Heat in Game 5 on Wednesday night, 97-87, but Doc Rivers still loves the core of his team and believes it can win. He loves it so much, he's already leaning toward returning as the Celtics' coach next season.

"I'm leaning heavily toward coming back," said Rivers in his postgame press conference. "I haven't made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will. I've kind of come to that over the last couple of weeks. I'm a Celtic, and I love our guys.

"I want to win again here. I do. I'm competitive as hell, I have a competitive group. And so well see. But I can tell you that's where I'm at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind, but that's where I'm at today."

Though injuries plagued the Celtics down the stretch, and though many believe this season was the Big Three's last legitimate shot at a title, Rivers said he thought otherwise.

"These guys aren't done," he said. "We need to add some pieces, but I love those guys in the locker room."

With green ink visible on his fingers, Rivers elaborated on his future and got emotional.

"I love our guys. I love 'em. I love the people I work for. It's tough . . . We'll see. That's we're I'm at for sure. Thanks, guys," said Rivers.

As tears welled up in his eyes, the Celtics' coach left the room.

Paul Pierce said Rivers' presence with the team would be vital if the Celtics were to make another run at a championship.

"Doc is very important in my opinion," Pierce said. "It's huge if we're trying to move forward, trying to be back next year and win a championship, he's one of the main pieces coming back."

Rajon Rondo joked with reporters that he saw Rivers sign a contract soon after the game ensuring Rivers would be back in Boston next season. Rondo laughed, but he seriously did not want to picture his playing career without Rivers as his coach.

"I don't even want to imagine," Rondo said. "I really want him to come back. Hopefully he can."

Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley


Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley

BOSTON – Another year, another season in which Avery Bradley plans to showcase a new and improved skill that will benefit the Boston Celtics.
But with each improved skill, Bradley moves just that much closer to being an all-around, two-way talent that creates problems for teams at both ends of the floor.
We all know about Bradley’s defense, which was good enough to land him a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive first team last season. He also gets props for steadily improving his game offensively in some area every summer, but defenses might have their hands full more than ever with Bradley.
According to NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, the 6-foot-2 Bradley was the only guard in the NBA last season to shoot better than 70 percent in the restricted area among players who took a minimum of 200 field goal attempts.
He is among a list that includes Los Angeles Clippers big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin; Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; current teammate and former Atlanta Hawk Al Horford; San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge; Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Atlanta big man Dwight Howard.
But if you’re thinking about keeping him away from that part of the floor, Bradley also made the 3-point shot a bigger part of his offensive game last season; as in, 40 percent of his shots came from beyond the 3-point line.

Having that kind of diversity makes him a difficult player to get a clear read on how to defend. And because of that, it may open things up even more so for his teammates.
Bradley can shoot from the perimeter; he can score close to the rim. His ball-handling skills have improved in the offseason to where it no longer looks as though it’s a major weakness.
And he defends at a level few players in the league can match.
Collectively it makes Bradley one of the many challenges awaiting teams whenever they face the Celtics, a player who is poised to showcase his diverse set of skills beginning tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. 

Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue

Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.

Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.

The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.

Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays. 

eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.