Rivers: Milicic 'most likely' won't return to Celtics

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Rivers: Milicic 'most likely' won't return to Celtics

WALTHAM, MA The Boston Celtics are in the process of severing ties with Darko Milicic.

"Most likely, yes," was C's head coach Doc Rivers' response when asked if Milicic's time in Boston was over.

Milicic is in Europe with his ill mother and may consider staying there instead of returning to Boston.

Rivers acknowledged that the situation with Milicic's mother had been discussed previously, and that his decision to leave the team did not come as a surprise.

"We've talked about it three or four times," Rivers said.

The Celtics signed Milicic to a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum before the season. If Milicic does not return, the Celtics would likely waive him and reach some type of buy-out agreement, which would then create an open roster spot.

There isn't a very deep pool of free agents still available, but one player who will get some consideration in forward Kenyon Martin.

Rivers did not sound overly optimistic about the Celtics adding another player to replace Milicic on the C's roster.

"We're going to look around, but I can tell you that we are in no rush," Rivers said.

Milicic's departure ends a run that saw him play just five minutes, a signal of just how little impact this former No. 2 overall pick had on the Celtics roster.

And while his struggles certainly weren't helped by the steadily-improving play of Chris Wilcox, there was no doubt in Rivers' mind that the health issues affecting Milicic's family wore on him mentally.

"You could see a change with him when he found out his mom wasn't doing well," Rivers said. "There's no doubt about that."

Rivers added, "I told him he has to do what he thinks is right. I'm going to support him one way or another."

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”