Rivers takes coaching to different level with self-ejection

902965.jpg

Rivers takes coaching to different level with self-ejection

THE CELTICS LOCKER ROOM HALFTIME OF TUESDAYS PRESEASON LOSS TO THE NETS.

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

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.