Doc Rivers is one of the best coaches in the game. Why? Because he knows what buttons to push.
With each passing year, my respect and admiration for Doc Rivers grows. Consider the egos and enigmatic personalities that he's managed over the years. Consider the top of the league defense that he's chartered - regardless of which lead assistant he had beside him. And consider the positions his team has put him in where everyone (perhaps including the general manager) had given up hope, yet he still believed and fought for them.
A good coach can see what's happening with a struggling team and make suggestions on how to get better. A great coach understands his players well enough to know just what button to push to get results.
Garnett said the key was the morning meeting, where Rivers reemphasized every player’s ’ role, and the cohesion was apparent. "San Antonio left a bad taste in our mouth, I know we can play better than that. I told them I know we can play better than that," Garnett said. "Doc set us aside and broke us down as a team and I thought it was very helpful. It kind of clarified the air on guys’ responsibilities, their roles, and we came out and played like it."
That's great stuff. You can just picture Doc walking up to each player and telling them just what they need to work on and exactly what they need to forget about. Everyone says that he's a "player's coach" but that doesn't mean that he's soft. If anything, he's very direct and holds no punches and I think guys respect that.
Sometimes it takes a few painful losses to give a coach the ammo he needs to give players the hard medicine. You can only "preach" rotations so often in practice before it will sound like background noise. But when you show a guy tape in front of the whole team where they missed their assignment and their teammate got dunked on because of it, ...well, that's something different.
It is funny that this comes on the eve of facing the Orlando Magic and Glen "I don't know my role" Davis. He seems to be enjoying his larger role in Orlando but that team isn't going anywhere and he never would have that kind of role here in Boston. In a similar way, a number of players on this team could be lead players in other situations but have to take a smaller part to compete on the larger stage.
It all goes back to the sacrifices that the Big 3 took when KG and Ray first arrived in Boston. Everyone took a step back to form the Ubuntu perfect storm team and raise a banner. Now Doc has as much talent on his team as he has since that year and he's got to make sure that everyone's buying in to the we-not-me mentality.
Friday night's win was a very encouraging sign and Doc can point to it and say "see what happens when you perform your role and everyone else does too?" Here's hoping that we'll see more of that for the rest of the year. If we don't, then at least we'll have Doc around to see what's amiss and prescribe the right medication.