Boston Bruins

What if the Celtics take Austin Rivers?

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What if the Celtics take Austin Rivers?

When Doc Rivers signed his five-year extension with the Celtics, the joke was that he only came back for a chance to coach his son.

Not that it was a particularly funny joke, but at the time it was funnier than it was realistic. Back then (waaay back in May 2011), the Celtics were perennial contenders who hadn't drafted higher than No. 19 since the Big 3 came together. Meanwhile, Rivers was considered a potential Top 5 pick; a lottery pick at the very, very least.

Austin Rivers to the Celtics? Interesting conspiracy. But not happening.

Or so we thought.

And still we think, but since last May things have slightly changed. Not so much for the Celtics who, if the season ended today, would have the 17th and 24th (from LAC) picks in the draft. But more on Rivers' end.

After an uneven season at Duke, one that left many scouts hoping he'd head back for another year, some experts predict that Rivers will not only fall out of the lottery but might even be available when the Celtics are on the clock.

Last week, in his first Mock Draft for ESPN.com (Insider Only), Chad Ford actually has the Celtics passing over Rivers at No. 17 for Kentucky's Terrence Jones. He has Austin going to Houston with the 21st pick.

Now obviously that's all insanely premature, as so much can and will change as far as where teams draft. And obviously Rivers will have a ton of individual workouts and interviews that may alter his standing. Not to mention, Chad Ford isn't an NBA GM.

Still, now more than ever, there exists a possibility that the Celtics will be on the clock this June, with Austin Rivers still sitting in the green room. He's a scoring two-guard. And while he may be undersized for the NBA position, that's a place where the Celtics (assuming Ray Allen heads elsewhere) could use some help. So what do you think?

We joked about Doc Rivers having a chance to coach his son, but what if that chance actually presents itself? Would the Celtics pull the trigger? Maybe trade Avery Bradley and start billing Rivers and Rondo as the back court of the future? Or is that just inviting all sorts of unnecessary controversy to a situation that already has its fair share?

Personally, I'm still not convinced these draft picks will even stay with the Celtics. At the very least, I don't expect them to make both picks. I mean, what will Doc do if the Celtics add TWO more rookies to next year's roster? Isn't that his worst nightmare? Asking Doc to work with rookies is like asking Superman to work with kryptonite, and if that's the case heading into next year's training camp, Doc might go insane.

This is a guy who's down to a seven-man rotation, has an aging core that needs to stay healthy and rested for the playoffs, yet still refuses to give JaJuan Johnson a shot. Last month, Johnson played 33 minutes against the Bulls that's Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, one of the strongest front courts in the league and completely held his own. He had 12 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. And more importantly, the Celtics won. Now he can't get off the bench?

The same thing happened earlier this season with Greg Stiemsma. He started playing really well (we're talking relatively, of course). He was the biggest surprise of the early part of the season. Then suddenly he falls out of the rotation. He didn't even play himself out of it (at least not in games). Then a few weeks ago, he gets another chance, and goes back to doing the exact same thing that he was at the beginning of the year. Now everyone's like, "Wow, look at Stiemsma coming on strong! He's really turned himself into a pro." But the truth is that he had this in him all along, he was just buried. The same way Johnson is now.

That's why I think it's far more likely that at least one of those picks are traded away as a piece in a bigger deal by Danny Ainge. But I guess that doesn't answer my original question:

What happens if the Celtics are on the clock, and Austin Rivers is still available? If instead of having to frantically fly around on off-days in order to catch his son's games (like he's done the past few years), Doc has the chance to coach his son every single day? IN THE NBA.

I'm sure it's a decision that Doc will have to wrestle with. Whether or not he's ever actively pushed for Austin to end up in Boston, I'm sure it's something he's considered, even dreamed about. How could he not?

But in the end, I don't see how he lets that dream get in the way of Celtics basketball. Especially when you consider how overly sensitive everyone would be about the motivation behind bringing his son on board. If Rivers does somehow end up on the Celtics, it will have to be for the right reasons. And the bigger issue is: Do those right reasons exist?

Is there anyway bringing on an undersized scorer like Austin Rivers is more essential than drafting an athletic power forward like Jones or a legitimate center?

I doubt it. Which is why I, and most people still highly doubt, there will be a Rivers family reunion at next season at the Garden.

Or that if there is, the younger Rivers will be wearing the wrong jersey.

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

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Dan Shaughnessy ran a piece this week calling the Bruins the No. 4 team in town these days. He wasn’t wrong. They are. 

Of course, the claim isn’t really a discussion about the Patriots or Red Sox, as they’ll always be the two most popular teams in town. It’s about the Bruins being behind the Celtics, which again, they are. 

Yet while the general premise of the story was correct, there was an issue to be taken with the piece. Shaughnessy wrote that, “In terms of overall interest and championship hopes, [the Bruins] are a distant fourth.”

That’s where he’s wrong. Nobody would argue against the Celtics garnering more interest (even if the Bruins might have a stronger fanbase), but championship hopes? The teams are deadlocked. 

The Celtics are one of the top teams in a league in which only one team (the Warriors) has a chance. The Bruins are a middle-of-the-pack team in a league in which the literal last team in the playoffs (the No. 16 seed Predators) went to the Stanley Cup Final last season. 
 
This isn’t about which team is better, because that’s not close. The Celtics have three All-Stars in their starting five and the third overall picks from each of the last two drafts. They’ve also got one of the best coaches in the league. 

It’s also not about who will likely go farther. The Celtics will at the very least reach the Eastern Conference finals. The issue is that they’ll then either be eliminated by the Cavaliers or earn the opportunity to perhaps get swept by the Warriors in the Finals. 

That leaves the Celtics with a certainty of a very good season, but also close to an impossibility of a championship season. 

As for the Bruins, they probably won’t be much better than they were last season, if at all. This season was always the one to watch in the Sweeney era, as it will see the biggest implementation of the young players drafted. There should be at least four Sweeney draft picks on the team this year (Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), plus youngsters from the Chiarelli era still pushing for jobs. 

The biggest change figures to be on the back end, where the Bruins should have the best top-four they’ve had since Sweeney dealt Dougie Hamilton. A lot of that rides on McAvoy, but there remains hope on the back end in future seasons with Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril trying to eventually break in. 

Will the Bruins rule their division the way the Celtics will? Most likely not. The guess here is that Tampa and Montreal will finish ahead of teams like Boston, Ottawa and Toronto. 

Yet there isn’t a Cleveland or a Golden State waiting to swallow up whoever does emerge throughout the playoffs, and that’s what leaves the Bruins and Celtics with equal chances at a title. The Penguins have won back-to-back titles, but the Bruins have gone 4-1-1 against them in the regular season the last two years. They’re hardly the unstoppable force that exists in Golden State. 

So in terms of buzz, offseason moves and anticipation for a new season? Sure, the Celtics have it all over the B’s. I’m certainly way more excited for basketball season. When it comes to championship hopes, however, the B’s and C’s are no different. 

CSNNE SCHEDULE

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Coach Sean McVay walked into the postgame news conference and immediately asked, "Anyone have a beer?"

He probably wasn't the only person who wanted a drink after watching a surprisingly thrilling Thursday night shootout between his Rams and the San Francisco 49ers that wasn't decided until Los Angeles prevented a potential game-tying 2-point try and then delivered a rare defensive stop after blowing the onside kick in a 41-39 victory.

"We talk about mentally tough, be your best regardless of the circumstance," McVay said. "I thought the players did that. They found a way in spite of some of the ups and the downs to come away with the win."

While the defense came up big late, it was the offense that carried the day for the Rams (2-1), who have gone from the lowest-scoring team in the NFL a year ago to a dynamic one through three games under McVay.

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 113 yards and scored three TDs and Robert Woods (108) and Sammy Watkins (106) each topped the 100-yard mark receiving in Los Angeles' second 40-point performance of the season. The Rams have 107 points in all so far, the second-most in franchise history after three games to the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

"Since I've been here we haven't been able to do that," Gurley said. "Hopefully we can keep putting points together, keep working together and keep learning from this. I think we left a lot more points off the board."

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion on a deflection by Troy Hill and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

"I just rushed it, I missed it, I made a mistake," Gould said. "Obviously, I wish I didn't do that, or we'd probably be playing in overtime right now.""

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

The Rams were 8 for 12 on third down, including all three of Goff's touchdown passes.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

"I just told him to start over," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Got to go back to work. We didn't change anything, went right on with the script. But it was a tough way to start out."

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.