Bill Burt of the Eagle Tribune recently sat down with Doc Rivers, who shared some interesting thoughts.
On what the team needs to do to improve:
Q: So how are your days different now that your season is over?
DOC: "Well, I'm playing golf about four days a week. That's a good thing. I enjoy that. It's also nice to be with the family a lot (at their Orlando, Fla., home). Every time I go to the office I bring out a pad of paper and I put down names and write about how we can get better. ... We have to improve our team if are going to win."
Q: So what are you writing down on that pad?
DOC: "For one, we have to take better care of the basketball. If you looked at our numbers we were third or fourth in the league in field goal percentage (actually second at 48.6 percent) yet we were 28th in turnovers. Two, our transition defense has to get better. Off the edge, in transition, we gave away too many easy baskets. Three, our bench has to get better as a group, positions we have to improve. We need a backup big (man). We need a backup for Paul Pierce. And we need a backup for Rajon Rondo."
On the importance of a good bench:
Q: The one thing the Celtics hit on last year was bench guys you brought in, including James Posey, P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell. Is it safe to assume that the Celtics have to do a better job at filling those roles in 2009-10?
DOC: "Absolutely. We have to hit on backup positions. That's the key to our season, the subtle moves we make. One mistake we made was our locker room and our bench got too young too quickly. I think it made Rondo and Perkins younger. When guys had questions in the locker room, you had Sam, P.J. and Posey, plus the Big Three.
"It's more difficult when nobody is there in the second group. And when Kevin (Garnett) went down it really came down to the Big Two and now those are the two old guys, minus Scal (Brian Scalabrine). That's way too young."
On Big Baby's free agency:
Q: Big Baby is a free agent. Will you re-sign him?
DOC: "He has to do his business, and see what's out there, but hopefully we'll sign him. I think we have a great shot at signing him. He fits in well with our team. I know he loves being here. He's just a young guy who needs to mature. We want him back."
On KG's injury:
Q: There was talk that Kevin Garnett might have returned to the lineup if the Celtics beat Orlando. Is that true?
DOC: "I said it before and I'll say it again. I don't think there was any chance. He didn't do surgery, so there was always hope. But I moved on. I know Kevin wanted to play and he did everything in his power to return. But I saw him walk. I saw his gait. He wasn't playing. I knew that."
Q: What did the Celtics miss most not having Garnett?
DOC: "You can yell all you want on the bench, but it's not the same. We missed his leadership. We also weren't the same team on defense. Our defense gave up 102 points a game in the playoffs. Last year we gave up 88 points a game. That's a 14-point difference."
On Ray's playoff performance:
Q: What did you think of Ray Allen in the playoffs?
DOC: "It's unfortunate for Ray, not having Kevin. When Ray comes off pin downs with Kevin, nobody is helping. But with Baby, Perk and Scal it was different. What also hurt was Rondo's guy, on every pass, ran to Ray. Think about it, Ray had Rondo's guy running at him. He had Perk's guy running at him. They didn't fear those guys on the offensive end. If you look at a lot of Baby's shots, it was his guy going to Ray. Clearly, not having Kevin, affected Ray the most."
Q: You mention three All-Stars, but wouldn't you consider your point guard Rajon Rondo a fourth All-Star?
DOC: "Rondo still has a lot of growth ahead of him. As great as his numbers were, as great as he played at times, guys still fell off him to double team. Guys don't fall off an All-Star to help with someone else. He has to make them pay for that by hitting his shot. Rondo has a chance to be a great player.
"But you have to do it every day in the playoffs. The first five games of the Chicago series Rondo played at an All-Star level. But the rest of the playoffs you could make the case that he really struggled. He had good rebounding numbers. He also had some good assist numbers at times. But at the point guard level you have to be able to score and get your assists. When teams play the Boston Celtics the one guy they are going to help off of is Rondo."
Q: Does Rondo understand that?
DOC: "Yeah, I think he does. Rondo has a healthy ego. But he understands he has to get better on the scoring end. He has to hit the open shot. But knowing him and how competitive he is, and how tough he is, he will work on that this summer."
There's a lot of other interesting stuff in the interview, as well, so I'd encourage everybody to read it.
It's hard to disagree with anything Doc says here. First, of course, he's absolutely dead-on regarding the deficiencies of the team. The most frustrating part of last year's team, other than the injuries, was the propensity to turn the ball over. Second, of course, is Doc's desire (as has been expressed previously) to add a big man, a three, and a backup point. I couldn't agree more. As Doc says, "We have to improve our team if are going to win."
Also, of course, Doc is right about Rondo. For our team to be at its most effective, Rondo needs to get better, especially in terms of his jump shot. That will open things up not only for himself, but also for Ray, etc. I like the fact that Doc is going to continue to push Rondo; the kid has way too much talent not to maximize it.