Season Preview: Doc on the Celtics’ New Challenge
Posted Sep 30 2008 12:14PM
Sept. 30, 2008 -- It was a short summer for Celtics coach Doc Rivers. But obviously, that's better than the alternative.
Rivers, maligned by many during the Celtics' 24-58 debacle two seasons ago, changed a lot of minds by guiding his team to the 17th title in franchise history last June. It didn't matter that he wasn't the Coach of the Year, because he was the Coach of the Finals.
Now, he's ready to do it again. The Celtics, looking to be the first NBA team to defend their title since 2002, begin training camp Tuesday in Newport, R.I. Two weeks earlier, Rivers spoke with NBA.com about the challenge ahead.
NBA.com: Obviously, one of the keys to winning last season was the collective hunger of your team. Had you ever seen a group that wanted it more?
The difference was that our guys really bought in to what we were doing and they understood that everybody wants to win, but if you really want to win, you're going to have to sacrifice some things and you may not be able to do it in your normal comfort zone. And I think they were willing to do that.
I thought we had a whole club of guys like that, even our young guys got to the point where they felt like they couldn't let the older guys down.
I thought we did have a special group in that fact that they had a single-minded goal. One of the things I told them early was that no one thought they could do it in the first year. And I told them that there was no guarantee that there would be a second year. So, it had to be the first year. And I thought that it was very important for our team to understand that.
NBA.com: So, now you do have a second year, and the challenge is to recreate that feeling.
Every night, teams are gonna attack us, and I thought we had a little dose of that last year, which was good. We felt that we were anointed during the year because of the way we started and because of the big three. And I thought people attacked us. And I think this year, they're going to do it even more. So, it's a different challenge for us. And I think every year's a different year.
NBA.com: Can Tony Allen step up and fill James Posey's role with this team?
Tony's a different player than James, and we're gonna try to get the best out of that to help our team. And that will make it a little different at times. But I think that Tony's gonna have a special year this year. I really believe that. I thought last year, he spent the year trying to get healthy, trying to believe that he was healthy.
This year, he's just gonna be able to play basketball. So, we're gonna miss what Posey gave us, but what Tony can give us will help us.
NBA.com: Other than the absence of Posey, will there be any differences in your team this season?
NBA.com: After struggling through most of the Finals, Rondo played the game of his life in Game 6. Is that the type of player he can be on a consistent basis?
He's capable of that. I don't know if he's capable of that every night yet, but I think he will be some day. We can't forget how young he is.
He's a special talent and he's just gonna keep improving. He's gonna get more confident in his shot. And the more confident he gets in his shot and the more he can knock down that in-between game, the better he'll get as a player.
NBA.com: Perkins seemed to complement Kevin down low. How important was he last season?
NBA.com: Is bringing in Darius Miles a low-risk, high-reward move?
NBA.com: And what did you see in Patrick O'Bryant that made you want to bring him in?
We're hoping that O'Bryant can help us by the end of the year. There's no pressure on him to play right away. We can't forget that he's a high draft pick. People obviously believed that he can play, and now we want to find out if he can.
NBA.com: Are the Celtics now the latest example of what can happen when you put defense first?