Doc Rivers

Shawn Sullivan: Hi, everyone. This is Shawn Sullivan, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service with the Celtics. First off, the Celtics would like to thank each and every one of our season ticket holders for taking the time to call in today for the conference call with Doc.

Doc, I have to say the response has been absolutely tremendous across the board from all our season ticket holders. We literally received hundreds of questions from season ticket holders, but before we dive into the emails, why don't you take a minute to share some opening remarks.

Doc Rivers: Well I'm just excited to be a part of the Celtics organization, as I've said before, I am just really looking forward to this challenge. I can't tell you guys how excited I am. It's just what I wanted. I mean, this is the situation that I've been looking for, and I'm just - I can't wait to jump in.

Shawn Sullivan: The first question comes to us today from Tom Goodwin from Boston, Massachusetts. He asks, Doc, tell us about your style. How do you plan to balance an up tempo offense with team defense, and do you feel the need to stress one more than the other?

Doc Rivers: Oh I think you have to stress defense first, you know, because I think that's what's going to win games for you down the stretch. Just from me doing the playoffs obviously and just because offense at times will fail you, but your defense - if you give your team a defensive fabric, it will never fail you. You always know how to do it and when to do it, and you can do it.

I think my offense will be up tempo. I think it'll be far more ball movement than you've seen in the past. I think that's very important for Paul more than anyone because I think with the new defensive rules it's so easy to load up on Paul. And the only way you can get Paul free and get him the same amount of shots is to get more ball movement.

Shawn Sullivan: And that kind of leads into our next question from Timothy Gonzales. Do you feel that the four teams that are left are all defensive minded teams in this year's playoffs?

Doc Rivers: Well I think three of them are. I don't know if Minnesota's a great defensive team. They have defensive stretches, but I don't think they're a great defensive team. I will say the Lakers are, when they need to be. But the other two teams are obviously great defensive teams. And Detroit might be one of the better defensive teams I've ever seen. With Rasheed and Ben Wallace they're just so athletic. They're so long. They have great schemes. And it makes them very difficult to score against. And again that's why they're still alive. So, you know, as important as offensive is - and it is with me, I think you obviously have to score - you have to have a mix, but you have to be a good defensive team if you want to win big in our league.

Shawn Sullivan: Now Lauren from Braintree asks, if you've had a chance to watch much tape on our team from last season and, if so, what's the number one thing that stands out to you in terms of what to work on for going into next season?

Doc Rivers: Well I have. I've watched a lot of tape. You know, when you're doing the playoffs you sit in your hotel room a lot as well. And that's giving me the opportunity to watch tape. And you know the number one thing that stands out to me, if you want to be honest, is we have to get tougher. Especially at the end of the year we were a soft basketball team. And that's something that we can't be, if we want to win, especially in the East. We have to share the ball more. I thought there was a lot of watching and everyone standing around. So those are the two things that stood out to me.

I've got to get better point guard play out of Chucky and Marcus, if those are going to be our point guards. Marcus is a young guy. But he's going to be a point guard and a very good point guard in this league. And it's going to be my job as a coach to get the best out of him.

Shawn Sullivan:Now Jason McKinney from Brighton - his question kind of touches on the toughness aspect. You know in terms of the rebounding he says, our rebounding was extremely down last year. With capable scorers like Paul, Ricky, and Jiri, does it make sense to you to have a few guys that are out on the floor just banging?

Doc Rivers: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I mean we have to - if we add anything to our team, if I had a checklist, the number one would be probably toughness, which would mean a rebounder. Number two would be a veteran probably. We're a young basketball team, so we need some veterans as well. But scoring will take care of itself. If we can adapt the offensive style and get it, I think we will be able to score pretty much. But we have to find a way of defending and rebounding. Bottom line, if you're not a good rebounding team, you're not going to win a lot of basketball games.

Shawn Sullivan: Now Joseph Voleman asks, he knows that you can't speak about specific players right now, but have you and Danny had any conversations about the draft, about mid level type of players, about a specific type of player that you're looking to bring in to fit your style of play?

Doc Rivers: Yeah, we've had a lot, especially of late. I snuck in town two days ago, and that's basically what Danny and I sat and talked about. It's funny. We talked far more about the mid level stuff than we do about the draft. I've been a big believer that the GMs and the scouts have seen guys all year, as far as the college guys. And I tend to lean more on them about the draft. I try to give Danny an idea of what I'm looking for in the type of players to fit my style so he can then go and look at these college guys, in a lot of cases high school guys, for the draft. But I'm the one who has seen the pro players. And you know, that's where Danny and I have had a lot of discussions about who would be a good fit for our style.

Shawn Sullivan: David Walsh asks in your introductory press conference you said that you didn't have a problem playing the younger players. Do you feel that you can strike a balance between winning and developing the young talent that we have?

Doc Rivers: Well I hope so because I can tell you I don't plan on losing. I mean, losing has always been an unacceptable thought in my mind. And just because you're playing young guys, that doesn't mean that we're building for four, five years from now. We're building for right now. And I'm playing young guys who earned it. I'm not just giving young guys minutes. And if our young guys want to earn minutes, I would love to play them because they are going to be our future.

Shawn Sullivan: Now in terms of some of the younger players, we had a tremendous amount of questions that came in regarding Ricky Davis, specifically George Hamblin, wanted to ask, have you thought along with Danny about moving Ricky Davis to a starter, or do you like the idea of him coming off the bench and being kind of a sparkplug?

Doc Rivers: Well I haven't decided yet. I haven't had a chance to see Ricky, and Jiri, and Paul play together. And really what it's going to come down to is who fits the best in the unit. Who makes which group of five better? If Ricky makes the starting five a better fit, then he'll start. If he makes the second unit a better fit, the he'll come off the bench. But honestly I haven't given that a lot of thought yet. I'm going to wait until I get closer to the season before we decide that.

Shawn Sullivan: That's sort of leads into the next question from Todd Witworth from Western Mass. He says, you know, as a former point guard, have you had a chance to evaluate Marcus and what he can bring to the table for the type of scheme that you're going to run?

Doc Rivers: Yeah, I have. I probably put the most importance right now, as far as me, is Marcus. We have to get more out of Marcus. You know, Marcus has a great ability defensively. I think right now his thought is probably more offensively. But I think Marcus's ability to change speeds defensively, pressure the ball, you know, create havoc is where I'm going to lean on him the most. And then I'm going to lean on Marcus to push the ball up the floor and explore every single time.

His areas of improvement - he has to learn how to get his teammates involved instead of just him. You're not a point guard if you're just getting yourself involved. You're a point guard if you're getting your team involved and making them better when you're on the floor. That's what I'm going to have to teach him and get him to do.

Shawn Sullivan: And that leads into Steve Shannon asks - this kind of almost goes to the two teams that you're working on the playoff series right now. One of the major sets the Celtics have run for the past couple years was an iso for Paul, you know, like you said where he's out on the wing. You know, you see teams like Detroit and Indiana now that run the double pick sets for Richard Hamilton or Reggie Miller to get those guys free. Can you see that being something that your offensive style would create for Paul?

Doc Rivers: Yeah. I'm not a big believer in isos even though that's all we ran in Orlando for the most part, at least last year we did more of them. I'm a big believer in ball movement and people movement. And I think it's very difficult to load up on Rip Hamilton, let's say, because he's not standing there with an iso. He might end up in an iso situation at times, but it's come through ball movement. And I'm a big believer in changing the ball from side to side. I think it'll make Paul a better player. My goal is to have Paul to have his career year this year.

Shawn Sullivan: Now in terms of your staff, Paul Sumner from Redding wants to know have you rounded out your staff, and will they have specific roles? How much input has Danny had in terms of the hiring process?

Doc Rivers: Well Danny's left the hiring process up to me. That was one of the things we talked about before I took the job. And Danny's been great. But I do want Danny's input. And I talked to him about each guy that I've hired, you know, and gotten Danny's input on how he feels. But he's left it 100% up to me. It's my staff. It's my guys. And, you know, that's really nice that Danny did that. So Dave Wohl and Tony Brown are the first two. Tony Brown is more of my defensive guy. Dave Wohl helps me offensively. But those are the only two guys we've hired thus far. And look forward in the near future to a couple more hires.

Shawn Sullivan: Now, in terms of meeting the players, Matt Long from Sandwich, Mass wanted to find out, have you been able to meet with any of the players yet or talk to any of them, specifically asking about Mark Blount?

Doc Rivers: Yeah, I have. I've met with - I've talked to all of them. I've not met with all of them, but I have met Mark. Mark lives in Boca in the summertime, and I live in Orlando. So I jumped in my car last week and drove down to lovely Boca, had lunch with Mark for a couple hours. And we talked basketball and, you know, I'm really looking forward to getting Mark back in the fold, if he chooses us. It's his decision. It's not ours. We want him. We've made that pretty clear. And Mark told me he wanted us. So let's hope that that happens.

Shawn Sullivan: That's good news.

One question that we really got a lot was why this job? With so many openings around the NBA, you know, why Boston? Can you touch upon a little bit of your experience, what it was like to play here as an opposing player?

Doc Rivers: Well why Boston was the easiest part for me because it is Boston. It's the Boston Celtics. And I know that sounds corny, but I swear it's the truth. Danny called me and my wife. My wife says my eyes just lit up because it was the Boston Celtics. And you know, I got calls from other coaches saying they haven't won lately, it's a tough situation and it's a tough town. I said - my answer to that is it's a tough town if you lose. But so is Anchorage, Alaska. There's no fun losing anywhere. And I like the pressure. I like intensity. I like that the fans care. I like that the fans want to give me their opinion even if I don't want to hear it. To me that just means everybody's invested in the team. And I don't mind that at all.

I had great experiences as a player against the Celtics - never could beat them, which bugs me to this day. Game seven I have yet to watch the entire game I can tell you that. That was the Bird/Dominique game. I just don't enjoy watching that game honestly. Maybe once I actually become a Celtic I'll turn that game on and enjoy it. And I still look back on that series Game Six as a lost opportunity. But I remember fouling out in that game, and Danny Ainge and I still laugh because I had the controversial goaltending call that they called, which was not goaltending. But they called it. And I told Danny now that I'm a Celtic I hope we get those same types of calls that you guys used to get.

Shawn Sullivan: Yeah, we all do.

Doc Rivers: I don't take the tradition lightly. You know? I love the fact that our practice facility still has the original banners hanging up. I think it's a definite reminder that there's been a standard set here in Boston and that we have not lived up to it of late. And our job is to, you know, reclaim our standards.

Shawn Sullivan: Along that line have you had a chance to speak to Red or some of the legends

Doc Rivers: Yeah.

Shawn Sullivan: Do you plan to utilize the legends at all?

Doc Rivers: Oh I plan on not only utilizing them, I plan on talking to them, and I plan on bringing them back. I mean, you just can't get that in other places. You know, the fact that I've been on the phone with Red Auerbach - I was actually talking to Larry Brown recently, and we were talking about the job. And he says, you know, what makes the job special? I said, well I've got to ask you a question. When you signed with Detroit, did Red Auerbach call you? And he started laughing. And I said that's the difference.

Shawn Sullivan: Yeah, it is pretty intimidating to get a call from him I'm sure.

Doc Rivers: It really is. I mean if you have any basketball history at all and you look in your caller ID and it says Red Auerbach on it, that's an intimidating pickup.

Shawn Sullivan: Now switching gears back to a little bit of this past year's team, Jiri Welsch, what are your thoughts on him? He's become a fan favorite here. And how would you like to use him?

Doc Rivers: Well on film he's become a coaches favorite, I can tell you. I haven't coached him yet. But on film, I love the way he moves without the ball. I love his basketball IQ. I think he's a savvy player. I think he's multidimensional. He's far tougher than he looks.

You know, talking to Jiri recently, I told him he has to get stronger. If he can't do anything else, that's the number one thing he has to do. But I think Jiri is an excellent player and we're going to use him in different spots. I think at times you might even see him at point guard if we want to go big.

So he allows you to do a lot of different things offensively. And again, I think the thing that stood out to me is he's a tenacious defender. This guy wants to play defense and that's a good thing.

Shawn Sullivan: Now in terms of this year's draft coming up, how much time have you been able to spend on the draft? Have you been able to see any of these guys or work anybody out?

Doc Rivers: No. I've been to one workout. Dave Wohl and Tony Brown have run most of the workouts with Danny and Chris Wallace and Leo Papile. And I allow them to do their work.

Our scouts and Danny have seen the college guys all year. And they're going to continue to look at some. They're going to continue to look at guys. I think my job is more to make sure that Danny and Chris Wallace and those guys know what type of system that I'm going to run, what type of players that I'm looking for. And then other than that, I try to stay out of their way and let them find the guy that they know will fit in my system.

Shawn Sullivan: So it sounds like you guys have already developed a real partnership?

Doc Rivers: Yes it is. I mean the one thing I've learned from my first time around as a coach that if you can develop a partnership and if your front office is the best team in the league, then your team on the floor will be a great team as well eventually.

Shawn Sullivan: The last question, again, we had a number of these come in terms of this year's NBA Championship, who do you think is going to win it all and why?

Doc Rivers: Well I don't know. I mean I'm going to go out on the limb here. I'm going to pick the Lakers. You know, I think they're the fan favorite or the most hated, you know.

Shawn Sullivan: We'll go most hated.

Doc Rivers: Yes, you can go both ways with that. I just think the size of Shaq at the end of the day and the ability of Kobe, when you have the best two players in my opinion in the NBA on the same team, it's very difficult to beat them. But I do think they are beatable.

I think both teams in the East could push them far more than most people think because of their defense. I think that is the one way to beat the Lakers. You have to be physical and take it back at them. And I think both of the Eastern Conference teams can do that.

Shawn Sullivan: Yes, it doesn't look like it's easy to score on either one of them.

Doc Rivers: No it's not. But at the end of the day, I still go with the Lakers this year. I just think they built the team to do this. But it'll be interesting because, you know, the way Detroit's playing, I don't know if the Lakers are going to get over the 80 point mark either.

Shawn Sullivan: I just want to say thanks again for taking the time today to answer the questions. This is something that we're looking forward to doing again with you throughout the course of the season.

I'd also like to thank all of the season ticket holders who participated today. We're all looking forward to the draft on June 24 and then kind of fast-forward into next fall and getting the Doc Rivers era underway on the court.

I didn't know if there's anything that you'd like to close on today...

Doc Rivers: Just stay behind us. I can't wait to get it started. I am anxiously awaiting training camp. I hope our players are waiting for it too because it's not going to be an easy one.

Shawn Sullivan: All right, we're all looking forward to it. Thanks again everyone.