Credit where credit is due: Doc’s coaching a gem | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Credit where credit is due: Doc’s coaching a gem


Doc Rivers gets a lot of grief around here.  Sometimes he deserves it.  Sometimes he doesn't.  That's part of being a head coach.

But right now, he's not getting the credit for making two huge, ballsy decisions that won the Celtics the first two games of this series.

Late in Game 1, when the Celtics were making a big run to come back from a 14 point deficit, Paul Pierce was ready to come back into the game.  At that point, Tony Allen was in and making Dwyane Wade's life hell.  So Doc looked at the situation, sent Paul Pierce in… and sat Ray Allen.

Most coaches would pull the "Hey, Ray's my guy and I'm sticking with the guys who got me here."  But Doc saw what was happening… sat one of his stars in a key situation, and let a role player continue doing the job he had been doing.  TA harassed Wade… the Heat wilted… and the Celtics held on for the win.

Going into Game 2, Doc had a decision on his hands.  Do you start the former All Star… the guy you signed to step up in the playoffs and deliver should Kevin Garnett not be able to?  Or do you start a guy who, while playing fairly well lately, is still a young player and doesn't have that same standing among his peers yet.

Once again, Doc made the tougher choice.  Most coaches would say "this is what we got this guy for… for moments like this."  You think Mike Brown would have the sack to tell Sheed he's sitting in favor of Big Baby?  Nope.  No way.  But Doc did.  And we saw how huge it paid off.

Those are two very tough decisions that Doc had to make.  And he nailed them both. 

Miami's getting outplayed on the court… but they're also getting vastly out-coached.  It's time Doc got a little more credit for that.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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  • Jason

    From a common sense perspective, they’re actually child’s play decisions. It’s only when you care about what the media is going to write about you that many coaches screw up amazingly simple decisions. So we’re praising Doc for making two obvious decisions?

  • Perry

    In the past he has been guilty of playing his starters too many minutes even when they struggled on the court. Part of that was due to a short handed bench, which lacked talent. These days Doc is subbing more on feel and real time situations. It’s refreshing and it is paying off.

  • Obvious? You don’t think you run the risk of alienating a star player with the TA decision…. or having Sheed be a problem when he doesn’t start a game he’s been starting all season?
    Those decisions to some balls. You gotta give Doc some credit for those calls.

  • Jason

    Yes, obvious. And I said it before the fact elsewhere. Shut down Wade and the Heat have no chance. If that means sitting Ray, so be it. BBD over Sheed? Again, yes obvious.
    But like you said, you start adding egos and fear of alienation and fan talk and media talk and you take a very simple, obvious decision and many coaches completely screw it up. When most average Joe’s can see the obvious winning strategy, then you actually choosing it doesn’t make you a brilliant coach. But that’s the rub isn’t? Most coaches think they need to show they are brilliant and sometimes that leads them to choose against the obvious, simple. So he gets credit maybe for not falling into that trap, but that’s a backhanded compliment, not true praise for some kind of genius game management.

  • Jason

    Btw, besides the amazing shooting display last night, Ray also played great D on Wade which I’ve seen no one mention or give him credit for.

  • Rodger

    To those of you who dont live in boston or boston area and didnt get to see the end of the celtic game please call TNT 404-885-4538 and complain.

  • Jason

    I second this with 100pt font and google exclamation points. Not only have C’s fans basically been desperate for the regular season to end, to just get the playoffs started already, but with the suspension and the building Q-ball animosity, this was EASILY the most anticipated game of the year for me. I was so pumped. I wanted (sports) blood and bless them the C’s were delivering it and I was reveling in it and gawd fucking damn it, TNT decides to NOT SHOW AN ENTIRE QUARTER OF THE SCHEDULED GAME even though THE GAME THEY DID SHOW INSTEAD WAS ACTUALLY ALREADY PLAYING ON ANOTHER FUCKING CHANNEL!!!!
    Are you fucking serious? Are you fucking kidding me? Who, at that company is that mind-blowingly fucking stupid? EPIC FAIL

  • Lakerhater (FD)

    Already did it. TNT programers are f#cking celtic haters, they would have cut to the Laker pregame shoot around if the could.
    Thank god its on ESPN Friday.

  • Lakerhater(FD)

    Doc hasn’t f#cked up yet in this series.
    I tried Redsarmy, but its all I could muster.
    Celtics in 4.

  • great point

  • Ouch. That better not happen come Rd 2.

  • DRJ

    Disagree. Neither decision was either obvious or historically easy. In the past, Doc always went with any member of the Big 3 (usually Paul or Ray) at the end of a game, sometimes to the detriment of the game.
    And issues of ego and personality are not extraneous to any coach’s decisions. I actually predicted he would start Sheed for those very reasons. Even now — I’m not sure this was the right decision. The obvious conclusion is that it was, since Baby did so well. But Sheed seemed more lackadaisical in Game 2 as compared to Game 1, and I wonder if his bruised ego is the reason.
    Can we win it all without a flipped-switch Sheed? I’m not sure. Maybe… if everybody stays health, maybe. It’s a good question though… because it does not look like Sheed is flipping any switches. And the fact that Doc didn’t start him may indicate that Doc and Danny realize that Sheed is a lost cause and are intending to make this run without relying on him. That, to me, sounds like a correct conclusion. So far, anyway.

  • DRJ

    Not only did Ray play great D on Wade, he ran him ragged when Cs were on offense. How does this 34-year-old keep running and running like the Energizer Bunny out there? It’s amazing how in-shape Ray is. Ok, the one thing in his favor vs. Wade is that it’s a lot easier to run than to try to keep up with somebody running through a maze of picks and other bodies. But it’s still really impressive.

  • DRJ
    Interesting article about the Cs turning nasty (“surly”) and how it “becomes them” more than any other team in the league. I like it 🙂 Q really did do us a favor.

  • Jason

    So because he didn’t again make a mistake he’s made plenty times before, he deserves praise? It’s still just a backhanded compliment, not credit for brilliant coaching.
    Look, I think Doc did make the right moves and I’m glad he did. I’m just saying I don’t see the genius. I see “duh” moves. Sure that deserves a passing mention, but it doesn’t deserve any significant amount of praise.

  • DRJ

    Your point is not unreasonable, Jason. Let’s just put an asterisk on it, and say..
    – We rag on Doc all the time for his mistakes. Now let’s give him credit for getting it right.
    – Decisions are always harder before you know the outcome.

  • DRJ

    Completely agree, of course. Fyi, here’s an example of why they do things like that:

  • ricm

    so Sheed is Leon’s replacement. rather have Leon’s energy muscle over Sheed’s mouth.

  • DRJ

    Article in affiliate = “Unsightly Lakers too old to win?”. (
    I just wanna know — who writes this stuff? 16-year-old kids? The thing that would make me happiest is for these two “old” teams – Lakers and Celtics – to meet again in the Finals, and push the % of all NBA championships won by these two teams past 50%.


    I read somewhere that there was a media guy fanning any questions to Q-Bitch after the game so he didn’t say anything!!
    Wonder who won that battle.
    Props tp Doc for those calls – its’ the kinda obvious thing that we’ve all been screaming about all year – leaving guys in when they’re playing well, sitting Sheed on his ass. BBD showed us what he can do…

  • I’m one of Doc’s biggest critics but I’m giving credit to him, he’s been good the last two games. Maybe he’s been learning from the past, maybe he’s seen Sheed is the cancer of the Celtics and he’s learned TA’s good in defending guards (I remember when the Fakers played in Boston in January and he was by far the best weapon against them, and then inexplicably Doc sat him). I hope he keeps the pace for the rest of the playoffs.

  • Rchelle

    Boston Celtics need to bench or even trade Kendrick Perkins. He’s clumsy, misses free throws, not a good scorer or ball handler.