Funny how perception changes from year to year. Nearly everyone wanted Doc's head on a platter last year (at times I was one of them - though I admit to flip flopping like a flounder on the issue). I looked for a definitive quote from Bill Simmons to sum up his feelings on the matter but I couldn't narrow it down from the 100,000 words he devoted to his personal mission of getting Doc fired. Every mainstream media outlet had Doc on the "hotseat" until Danny stepped in and shut everyone up by giving him a contract extension.
Fast forward to today, and we're hearing from those same outlets that Doc is one of the success stories of the year. Chris Broussard is just the latest.
During the preseason, folks forgot Doc was coach of the year back in 2000. I kept hearing that he might be a weak link after the Celtics brought together the Big Three. Turns out the only thing "weak'' were those predictions about him holding the revamped Celtics back. Not only has he managed the egos tremendously and all but assured the Celtics of having homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, but he's taken a group of previously nondescript defenders (besides KG) and turned them into the best defensive unit in the league.
So has Doc changed? Did he all of a sudden become a great coach over the summer? Of course not. His team simply went from having a little talent and no experience to having a ton of talent and ages of experience.
The things he is good at this year were there last year. For example, he's very good at calling plays for a basket right out of the huddle. It just doesn't help much when you are down by 15. He's also very good at knowing when to push and when to throttle back. His team always played hard last year, even when they were well out of it, but they simply weren't good enough to win games.
On the other hand, his rotations often leave fans scratching their heads. Watching Scalabrine go from starter in KG's absense to the inactive list is just one example. Many fans were throwing various things at their TVs calling for Doc to put Rondo and Perkins back in the game in the 4th quarter against the Hornets. And his small ball lineups are tollerated only because of the team's record (if it ain't broke...). But what will happen in the playoffs?
You could argue that he's still the same coach that was strategically beat to the punch repeatedly by Rick Carlisle in the Pacers playoff series. Then again, you are talking about a team made up of Gary Payton, Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Antoine Walker, and a much less mature Paul Pierce. It is not outside the realm of possibility that those players simply didn't execute the gameplan Doc was attempting to implement.
So here we are in Doc's 4th season as the Celtics head coach, his 9th overall. He's had one Coach of the Year award but has never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. He's won with good teams and lost with bad teams for an overall record hovering around .500 as a coach.
Is he a horrible coach, as Simmons and others indicated last year? It doesn't appear so. Is he a great coach? Not likely. But is he a good enough coach to win an NBA title with a star studded roster? That question will be answered in the postseason.