C's Anxiously Await Game Within the Game

WALTHAM, Mass. – What’s going to be even more fun than watching Doc Rivers take on his son, Austin Rivers, during tonight’s contest against the New Orleans Hornets? The game within the game.

As Doc said about facing his son tonight, “I’ll be in a suit and tie, so I can’t do anything.”

He can’t, but his players sure can.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce was glowing with a smile Tuesday afternoon while discussing the looming matchup against Austin Rivers.
John Picard/Celtics.com

Several men whom Austin grew up watching, and who watched Austin grow up, will be waiting on the floor to greet him when he checks into tonight’s game. Keep in mind that the 20-year-old rookie was just 11 years old when Doc was hired as the 16th head coach in Celtics history. Additionally, he was only 14 years old when his brother, Jeremiah, enrolled at Georgetown University to play alongside Jeff Green.

The bulk of Austin’s basketball life has been lived in front of the core of this Celtics team. Doc has watched Austin grow up since Day 1, and guys like Danny Ainge, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo have seen Austin turn from an adolescent into a man over the past nine years. Although Green spent much more time with Jeremiah, he has known Austin for six years as well.

All of that familiarity should make tonight’s game within the game awfully entertaining. The Celtics aren’t interested in taking it easy on the son of their head coach. They actually want to do the contrary.

“I don’t care if he’s Doc’s kid. Is he going to get mad at me?” Green questioned with a smile on Tuesday. “I mean, [Doc] wants us to stop him, right? [Austin] comes through the lane, I’m going to hit him. That’s about how it goes.”

Green finished that with a zinger: “Welcome to the NBA, kid.”

Green made his comments with a smile but it was obvious that he meant what he said. He does not care what the jersey patch on the back of an opponent reads as. Green wants to continue Boston’s six-game winning streak. Plan and simple.

“He is my opponent. He’s my enemy,” said Green. “Like I said, if Doc’s getting mad at me for hitting his son, then he’s going to have to deal with it, because I’m going to keep doing it.”

Green went as far as to claim that he would feel the same way even if it was his blood donning the opponent’s jersey.

“If it was me, I wouldn’t care. I’m trying to win the game,” he said. “Afterwards we can go back to being lovey dovey, but I just want to win.”

The same can be said for Pierce, who is seeking to cement his position in Celtics history this season with a second NBA championship. Wins, not feelings, are what count for the 15-year NBA veteran.

As we’ve already explained, Pierce and Austin’s relationship goes back nearly a decade. They’ve shot around with each other and even faced each other in the past in a mano-a-mano setting.

“I had a chance to play (Austin) one-on-one when he was in like the 10th grade,” Pierce recalled. “And I think I went upstairs and told Doc, ‘You’ve got an NBA player right here.’ I knew from then he’d be able to make it to the NBA. Truthfully, that’s a true story.”

There is one more detail to that story that may not help Austin’s chances tonight. Apparently the teenage version of Austin attempted to take it to Pierce during that game. Now, about a handful of years later, Pierce is preparing to show Austin how it’s done on the big stage.

“He was out to get me when he was a high school player,” said Pierce, “so I’m ready for him.”

Everyone in TD Garden tonight will anxiously await the opening moments of this father-son duo going toe-to-toe in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Celtics who have known Austin for years will be lurking in the background ready to pounce.