Despite briefly contemplating retirement, Doc Rivers decided to return for another year of coaching the Boston Celtics. And what does he have waiting for him? A locker room full of crazy egos and personalities. Joy. But he also has championship aspirations and a deep, talented team.
As the season draws near (only a month and 18 days until opening night, not that anyone’s counting), here’s one man’s thoughts on Rivers’ wish list for 2010-2011.
A better Kevin Garnett
Doc may be asking for a lot here. According to Garnett and doctors, his knee should be better a year removed from injury than it was last season. According to me, Garnett is 34 years old and has played 1,087 regular season games and 41,694 regular season minutes. Even if he’d never been injured, KG would be on his way down.
Kendrick Perkins’ healthy return in February
Thank God the Celtics signed both Jermaine and Shaq O’Neal. I wasn’t at all looking forward to watching Semih Erden receive some of Perkins’ minutes. But even with the O’Neal bash brothers in stow, the C’s could still use a healthy Perk. (Does anyone actually think both the O’Neals will go through the entire season without injury? Didn’t think so.) Just don’t rush Perk back. The Celtics need him in April, May and June, not any other month.
No arrests, unnecessary injuries, or (more) suspensions
Delonte West once carried enough ammunition to take out a small country, and will be suspended for the season’s first ten games. Big Baby once drunkenly punched his drunk-driving friend in the face, while his friend was driving Big Baby’s car. Jermaine O’Neal once laid out a fan with a one-hitter quitter that made Ronnie from the Jersey Shore jealous. If none of that stuff happens this season, I can assure you that Doc will be a happy man.
Semih Erden, Luke Harangody and Avery Bradley like it in Maine
Sorry, those of you who hold out hope for these young guns. Barring injury, I just don’t see how they’ll see much time in Boston. Bradley has the best chance to be good, but he’s behind Delonte West, Von Wafer, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels in the rotation… and those are just the guys on the bench.
Shaq learns how to defend the pick and roll
One of Doc’s most outlandish wishes. Shaq hasn’t been able to defend a pick and roll in years (ever?). He’s not about to start now. You know the saying: you can’t teach an old, over-the-hill center new tricks.
Brandon Spikes’ sex tape was only a nightmare
Sorry, Doc, but I had to bring it up. For those of you who don’t know, Brandon Spikes is a Patriots linebacker who recently had a sex tape released. He also happens to be the boyfriend (ex-boyfriend?) of Doc’s daughter, Callie. All I can say is, yikes.
Rajon Rondo finds some semblance of a jump shot
File this one under “probably not, Doc.” Still, I foresee Rondo taking another step forward next season in his quest for superstardom. Being cut (or whatever) from Team USA will only serve to motivate him. As if Rondo, who has grown by leaps and bounds every season, needs any motivation.
The Heat don’t find chemistry
I swore to myself that I wouldn’t mention the Heat once in this post. I even pinky swore myself. But I can’t get past this: if the Heat DO develop top-notch chemistry and stay healthy, they’re going to be extremely difficult to beat. (Hold on, I’ve gotta go kick my own ass… okay, I’m back.)
Some type of fourth-quarter execution
Last year, the Celtics often seemed lost in the fouth quarter. They didn’t know whether to give the ball to Rondo or to let Pierce do his thing, and the confusion was easily apparent. And it came back to bite the C’s at the worst time, in the Game That Must Not Be Named. (*Screaming head off, violently*.) A little fourth-quarter execution would go a long way towards keeping Doc sane.
Just a little production out of Marquis Daniels
We’re not asking for Daniels to be a star. We’re not asking him to be a deadly shooter. We’re not asking him to be the bench’s leader. All we want from him is that, when he’s in the game, we want to actually realize that he’s in the game. For the second half of last season, the Celtics might as well have played four on five when Daniels was in.
A more spry Paul Pierce
Pierce wasn’t himself last season. Whether it was age or constant injuries, or both, The Truth struggled getting to the bucket. The stats say otherwise (Pierce actually took the same amount of shots at the rim last year as he did during each of the previous two years, and converted at a higher clip), but when the game was on the line Pierce couldn’t always find easy shots. He also had a tough time scoring against certain matchups (read: Lebron James, Eastern Conference Semifinals) — and Pierce has never before needed a favorable matchup to score.
A little regular season effort
The Celtics can talk all they want about how they tried their hardest to win games last season, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to believe them. I saw the Celtics go 27-27 over their last 54 outings; I watched every single one of those games. If that was full effort, then bears don’t shit in the woods. And bears definitely shit in the woods. For a while, in the playoffs, it looked like the regular season effort might not haunt them. Then the Game That Must Not Be Named happened, and every flaw that occurred in the regular season was exposed on the biggest stage. So work hard this regular season, Celtics. Work on your weaknesses and get rid of them, so that when the playoffs come, those weaknesses won’t bite you in the rear end.
A healthy starting five come playoff time
Doc has said it multiple times: the Celtics starting five, when healthy, is undefeated in the postseason. If the lineup is intact come playoff time, Doc will put his five against any five in the world.
Any wishes I missed? Leave them in the comment section.