Rivers takes coaching to different level with self-ejection

Rivers takes coaching to different level with self-ejection
October 17, 2012, 2:41 pm
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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