Doc Delivers: The 2012-13 Season May Offer the Celtics Coach a Great Opportunity to Start Cementing his Place in History
In a recent video, Jason Terry calls Doc Rivers one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. I'm not sure about this, but since his career as coach may still have many years left before we can put it in perspective, let's take that question under advisement.
In the meantime, I do know one thing. Doc delivers.
We can talk about Ubuntu or being a player's coach or coming up with creative motivational techniques like pre-season duck-boat rides or even being a part-time shrink. But at the end of the day, Doc gets his teams to win playoff games and playoff series that almost no one had given him a chance to win. JET stated the obvious when he observed that the C's were one game away from the NBA Finals last season. Then he added, "and I believe the Celtics would have gone on to win the championship." Why? He didn't say, but the upshot was because of the coach, Doc Rivers.
Most of us would probably agree with the JET regarding the outcome of a Thunder-Celtics Final last season. Upon closer examination, however, it is not clear why. As Terry noted in an earlier interview, the Celtics bench scored two points in game 7 against Miami. Two freakin' points. Almost as alarming, the bench hardly earned any PT in that game. Mickael Pietrus led the way with 22 minutes. The rest of the bench? A grand total of 17. Good heavens.
How did this happen?
I think the reason is clear.
The bench stunk!
The Celtics were relying on Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic, Ryan Hollins, and Greg Steimsma to be difference makers in the Eastern Conference Finals. With all due respect, this group of players might be worse than the late 80s Celtics bench of Jim Paxson, Ed Pinckney, Joe Kleine, and John Bagley, and that bench is remembered for having contributed virtually nothing.
Which brings us back to Doc.
How did he bring the Green to the doorstep of another NBA Finals? (and don't forget Ray Allen was playing on one leg)
Answer: He's a damn good coach, a better coach than we even realize, and likely a better coach than when Danny first hired him. Doc won't ever catch the Zen Mistress, Red, or Riles in championships. But there is no reason he still can't go down in history as a great coach.
At any level, being a great coach means getting your players to play together above and beyond what their talents might otherwise allow individually in another system. In a sport where even one roster change can turn a contender into a champion, the Celtics roster is now brimming with a group of potential difference makers. Depending on how the season goes, this might be a transitional year for Doc Rivers, one that allows him to move from being thought of as a very good, but historically forgettable coach, to one that is remembered among the legendary pantheon.
It certainly helps that each year the Celtics get to the Eastern Conference Finals, the NBA Finals, or win the whole ball of wax, almost nobody outside of Boston gave them much of a chance to do anything when the season started. There must be some reason the pundits have been consistently wrong over the last 5 years, and will probably be wrong again this year.
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