Doc Rivers has a dry sense of humor. Earlier this season he quipped that Shaq was sitting out games “because he’s old,” and he has also joked that Chris Johnson would be a hell of a player if he could just use Glen Davis’ weight plan. So when Doc said, “And no, Baby was not supposed to shoot the three” during his press conference last night, the assembled media members laughed. Yet Doc looked forward, with a vacant look in his eyes and not a hint of a smile on his lips.
The very next question asked whether Doc minded Rajon Rondo’s runner, which had missed a few seconds prior to Davis’ “why the hell did he just did that?” three. “Not really,” Doc replied. “I mean, I don’t mind when Rondo shoots ever.” But given the circumstances, with the Celtics in transition and Paul Pierce open(-ish) trailing the play, Doc expected Rondo was going to pass the ball to Pierce, and wished he had. “I just think your best offensive player should always touch it on the last possession, and then if it comes back to a guy for a shot, I think that’s fine.”
Another question came, and Rivers still wasn’t smiling. “Did you just not hear me?” he replied curtly, after being asked if he considered calling a timeout before Rondo’s runner. “I was saying it was transition, and I saw Paul open, so I thought that’s where we were going.”
From Bobby Knight (Nenad Krstic’s inspiration), such a response would have been considered almost kind. From Phil Jackson, the condescension would have been expected. But from Rivers, who treats almost everyone he meets with a big grin, eye contact and a good-natured chuckle, the response was telling. After seeing his team execute like a D-League squad (with all apologies to the D-League) down the stretch while kicking away yet another game in their race for the top seed, Doc was fed up.
These are the games championship teams normally find ways to win, yet the Celtics could have used a Heimlich Maneuver. With three chances to take the lead or tie the game in their final three shots, the Celtics ended up with A) an off-balance runner by Rondo, who was 2-11 shooting at that point, B) a three-pointer by Davis, who has made three three-pointers in his entire career, with seven seconds left on the clock, and C) a last-second prayer by Paul Pierce, which clanged off the rim and led to Tony Allen’s attempt to celebrate with his former teammates.
When the game ended, Doc complained about the offense’s lack of urgency and ball movement, Lawrence Frank beat himself up about the defense’s performance, and Pierce noted, “There should be a better sense of urgency, I believe, around here. Especially when we should be finishing off the season on a good note and trying to get that home-court advantage in the East.”