Rivers takes coaching to different level with self-ejection


Rivers takes coaching to different level with self-ejection


Doc Rivers: All right, guys. Not a bad half. Love the defense. Love the

(Suddenly, Ty Lue busts into the room wearing a fake mustache and a way-too-tight No. 55 NBA official uniform.)

Rivers: What the hell . . . Bill Kennedy?!

Lue (as Kennedy): Thats right, Rivers! And Ive heard just about enough of your garbage tonight. Youre out of here! Muahahaha!

(Celtics security chief Patrick Lynch escorts Rivers out of the locker room as Kennedy disappears into a cloud of smoke.)

AND . . . SCENE.

Im not sure if thats how it went down, but its a lot more fun to pretend. And either way, Operation Bill Kennedy (as Im calling it) has provided an interesting twist on the Celtics pre-season.

If you missed it, last night against the Nets, Rivers threw a curveball at his coaching staff and ejected himself at halftime. It left assistant Armond Hill in charge, and the rest of the crew scrambling to fill in the holes. At the time, some speculated that Doc just felt like watching the presidential debate, but even if thats the case, the exercise made sense, and serves as just another example of the next-level coaching approach that Rivers is bringing to the Celtics.

Call it one of the luxuries of being the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference, of having a roster with three or four players who could coach the team themselves if it came down to it. Call it whatever you want, but last night was another reminder of why while many teams are forced to use the pre-season as a time to sort out routine and essential aspects of NBA life the Celtics arent one of those teams.

For the Celtics, the pre-season is a time to experiment, to leave no stone unturned, to test the limits of reality and make sure everyone in the organization not just the players is ready for anything, at anytime.

After all, we all know that Rivers has a way with the refs. He might be one of the nicest guys in the world off the court, but the guy can be down right brutal with the officials. Of course, with his increased respect around the league, hes probably able to get away with more than most coaches, but at the same time you know that that increased respect will only result in Rivers further pushing the envelope in terms of what he can get away with and more often than not, exceeding those limits.

Ill always remember a particular game against the 76ers back in December of 2009. Rivers was ejected (by Kennedy, of course), leaving very capable assistant Tom Thibodeau in charge. However, Thibodeau froze, and didnt make a substitution over the final 16 minutes as the Celtics (20-4 at the time) choked away the game against a Sixers team that at the time was one of the worst in the league. Im sure Rivers remembers that game, too.

So while most teams will use these few weeks to learn more about who deserves playing time and what rotations work best, Doc Rivers can and will use it for the little things like making sure the mistakes of a random loss three years ago don't repeat themselves . . . or watching the presidential debate.

Either way, the C's are better off.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”