After Avery Johnson’s dismissal earlier this week (he was previously the Coach of the Month for October and November) there were questions raised about Doc Rivers job security. For a team that looked as good as this one did this summer, to say the Celtics haven’t lived up to expectations would be a sizable understatement. Danny Ainge isn’t looking to make a coaching change however:
“Doc (Rivers) has proven his worth as a coach,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s President of Basketball Operations, told CSNNE.com. “There’s nobody I want more to coach my team, than Doc Rivers.”
Ainge added, “One thing I’ve learned in this business is patience is a virtue. That’s one of the reasons why I love Doc. Because when things aren’t going well, there’s no one I want in my corner more. Anybody can put on a smiley face and come to work with energy and enthusiasm and passion when you’re winning. But it takes a special person to do it with an 18, 19-game losing streak with a bunch of young players and to still have that respect and work ethic before we were able to put a great team together and obviously, have some success.”
“To have unity at ownership level, at management level and coaching level is critical when you’re trying to build winning teams,” Ainge said. “I like what we have.”
Ainge also took some of the blame for the teams struggles so far, but in a bizarre turn of events I’m actually not upset with Ainge. I’ve been critical of Ainge in the past, but the team he assembled this summer looked great on paper. While there were certainly some misses this offseason, nobody could have predicted the season Jamal Crawford has had (the prior one was his worst since his rookie year), or the struggles of Bass and Lee. The Celtics came into the season projected as a clear top ten team with a punchers chance at a title (and even more optimism among Celtics fans). Danny assembled a roster the fanbase could be genuinely excited about.
Doc I’m more critical of. Those of you who follow me on twitter know that I desperately want this team to try and play small-ball à la the 2011-2012 San Antonio Spurs. The decision to start Jason Collins perplexes me because Doc is trying to get this team to play basketball the same way they have the past five years, but this Celtics team is completely different. I expected this team not to rebound and to have mediocre defense with Garnett’s minutes restriction, but for this team to be bad offensively blows my mind. After last night the Celtics are 22nd in the league in Offensive Efficiency. I thought this team would get out and run, but they’re 17th in pace as Green and Lee saunter to the corners in transition and Rondo walks the ball up the floor. If anyone has been getting out and running it’s been Garnett, Pierce, and Sullinger of all people (I adore Sullinger but he was the slowest player in the 2012 draft).
And I realize my eagerness to play small-ball isn’t shared by all Celtics fans (and I mean real small-ball, not the Celtics playing at the same pace they have for five years but with smaller players, that makes no sense), but that isn’t the most frustrating thing Doc has done this season. The thing that frustrates me the most is the inconsistency in the lineup on a nightly basis. Players start one night, and then come off the bench the next. The closing lineup changes game-to-game. JET should probably come off the bench; it’s where he’s most comfortable. Jared Sullinger should probably start, there’s a lot of compelling evidence that corroborates this, the least of which being he isn’t Jason Collins. It’s no wonder Bass and Lee are struggling when they don’t know what their role is. Consistency is incredibly important, and the inconsistency of this teams ever-changing rotation reflects in their on-court play. It’s hard to put those problems on anyone other than Doc.
But let’s not forget what Doc has done for this team. Without Doc, KG probably doesn’t return this offseason, and maybe Pierce retires. Without Doc the Celtics probably don’t get Courtney Lee (I realize we’re not quite as excited about Lee as we were before the season, but still). Doc is an asset to this team because addition to being a fine coach, players want to play for him; they genuinely like him. The organization wouldn’t have given him a five-year extension if they weren’t confident in him. And while I don’t think Bradley can fix all of this teams’ problems, his return will help iron out some of the rotation issues and that alone will be a boon for this team. Doc is a good coach and he’s earned our patience.
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @OffensiveG