The Celtics can clinch the second-worst
record in the NBA with a loss to the Bucks tonight, and, with all the
talk of tanking that has surrounded these clubs, one half expects Doc
Rivers to be breathing through a snorkel on the sideline.
is open to debate, but there can be no question the Celts have been
putting player development and caution with injuries ahead of winning in
recent weeks. And even though this approach has given his team better
odds of landing a top-three pick, Rivers doesn't like the current
The NBA began its lottery with all the
non-playoff teams having an equal shot at the top pick, but it switched
to a process in which those with poorer records have a greater chance.
There may be no perfect system, but Rivers finds the alleged jockeying
for position distasteful.
``Go back to the old way,''
he said. ``Every team that doesn't make the playoffs gets one ball. I've
said that for 10 years, and even though obviously where we're at the
way they do it now benefits us, I would love it to be that way. I think
that's the way it should be.
``I don't think the teams
with the worst record should be rewarded, and I've always said that.
You're rewarded for being bad? I think you reward champions. I know it's
a tough thing to say, but I do think it would be a great way of doing
The whole concept behind professional leagues
drafting in inverse order is to help the have-nots catch up with the
better clubs in the great search for parity.
``Yeah, but everybody that doesn't make the playoffs wants to get better,'' countered Rivers.
The way things are being done now, he claims, invites chicanery.
we changed back to each team out of the playoffs getting one shot, we
would not see what you're seeing now league-wide,'' Rivers said. ``It's
tough. Even if you weren't seeing it, the perception is there.
mean, I got killed two weeks ago for literally making a very good
decision when I decided to keep the starters on the bench for a very
good reason. It actually paid dividends a couple of games later when we
won because our bench played well. But the assumption was, `They're just
dropping games.' ''
Following that loss to Charlotte
on March 21, Rivers announced he had not tanked even before the subject
was raised. And it didn't pass without notice when he left Ryan Gomes
and Kendrick Perkins on the bench in the last quarter of Tuesday's
come-from-ahead loss to the Hawks. Assuming Rivers is taken at his word
and that he wasn't simply trying to fend off the falling Bucks, he is
swimming against perception.
``You can't do anything,''
he said. ``The game in Atlanta, I wanted to go to Gerald (Green) down
the stretch to see what he would do in that situation. I'm coaching for
next year. . . .
``But right now, anything we do or
anything Milwaukee does - or anybody - there's suspicion behind it.
There should be, honestly. That's the way it is.''
certainly the way it will be tonight when winning is in neither team's
best interest. In the immortal words of Paul Pierce before that
Charlotte game, `We'll see who don't want it more.'''