November 05, 2005
When Doc Rivers looked down the sideline at the Pistons last night at the TD Banknorth Garden, there was some understandable envy. But it wasn't because Rivers wants the Pistons' talent and the 2004 NBA title. Perhaps more than anything else, Rivers would like the kind of continuity Detroit brings to floor. Chauncey Billups , Tayshaun Prince , Ben Wallace , and Rasheed Wallace have had time to nurture chemistry on the court. The Celtics have not been as fortunate with a seemingly endless influx of young players.
Rivers sounded almost prophetic as he singled out late-game execution as the byproduct of continuity and chemistry before the Pistons defeated the Celtics, 82-81, on a buzzer-beater by Rip Hamilton .
"What stands out with me about them and San Antonio is the teams that stay together year after year with talent just keep getting better and better without change," said Rivers. "They just know each other so well. They trust each other on every possession. Beating teams like that down the stretch of games is really tough to do because they've been through so many tough games and they know every nuance of each other. I think that's what makes them so good."
With a core kept together for the long term, Rivers does not see much change with Flip Saunders replacing Larry Brown as coach, though Saunders is more laid-back and more offensive-minded than Brown.
"It doesn't change who they are," said Rivers. "It may change some of the things they run, but they're going to still be Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton. In some ways, some of them might like it and in some ways, some of the might not. But they're still talented with Larry and they're still talented with Flip."
No early returns
With only two games in the books, Pierce is reserving judgment about the Celtics and the rest of the Atlantic Division until at least mid-December. He noted that the Celtics are still trying to figure out their identity.
"It doesn't mean anything right now," said Pierce. "Ask me about 60 games in and I'll tell you [what I think about the division]."
When asked to assess the needs of the team in terms of personnel, Pierce said, "Ask me 30 games in."
Allen revises schedule
Tony Allen announced a new estimated return to practice following right knee surgery. The second-year shooting guard believes he'll be back sometime in the middle of next month "unless the pain just starts going away." That shifts Allen's Opening Night estimate back about two weeks. Allen has been troubled by lingering pain in the knee, though he started to work on regaining his lateral movement yesterday.
Rivers doesn't know how quickly Allen will be ready to play.
"Some guys do come back from injury in December or January, whatever it will be, and play pretty well," said Rivers. "And some guys don't. Because Tony is so young we don't know which way that will go. I know he's needed. Ricky [ Davis ] may be our only pure [shooting guard] on our roster. We need that athletic quick, other 2-guard."
Swartz a shoo-in
To keep himself busy when not playing, Allen made the wishes of one fan come true. When 10-year-old Tyler Swartz of Needham attended fan appreciation day a couple weeks back, he asked Allen for a pair of shoes. Allen couldn't accommodate the youngster then, but promised he would deliver when Swartz attended a game. Well, last night, Swartz received an autographed pair of shoes. "I'm a man of my word," said Allen . . . During the last couple of years, Pierce has seen more than his fair share of trades dismantle and create the current Celtics incarnation. So, he knows the good and bad a dramatic move can bring. He doesn't necessarily look at the Pistons' acquisition of Rasheed Wallace Feb. 19, 2004, in a three-team deal that also involved the Celtics and the Hawks as something the Green need to do. "It's all about the timing of it, the type of player you bring in to help the needs," said Pierce. "Really, Rasheed just fulfilled a lot of their needs, a go-to-guy in the post, a lock-down defender and a leader. They're in a different situation [than the Celtics], whereas we're still trying to find our core group of guys and try to see what needs we need to fulfill that will probably help us get over the top." . . . Davis is doing his best to reach his goal of leading the Celtics in assists. Last night, he finished with 10 points and 8 assists . . . Some familiar names were selected in the recent Development League draft. Will Bynum , who spent much of training camp with the Celtics, went to the Roanoke Dazzle in the first round . . . The Austin Toros selected Holy Cross product Neil Fingleton . . . Patriots Rodney Harrison and Daniel Graham attended last night's game.