Celtics guard Jason Terry took a bit of umbrage when asked about Doc Rivers digging into his “bag of tricks” to pull out a zone defense against one of the best-shooting teams in the league during the second half of Friday night’s 94-86 victory against the Warriors.
“Not at all,” he corrected. “It’s just a situation where, if it’s in your system, then why not use it? We work on it every day. We rib Doc and the coaches sometimes about, ‘Why are we going over this stuff if we’re not going to use it?’ So tonight was a good example of him having confidence in it, and using it.
“At one point, we had eight possessions in a row and eight stops. That’s phenomenal. Why would you change at that point?”
Terry’s greater point was simple — what the Celtics have done since Rajon Rondo’s torn anterior cruciate ligament tipped off a torrent of season-ending injuries is not based on gimmicks. There are no smoke and mirrors involved in why the team has gone 11-4 after a 20-23 start. You don’t win triple-overtime games against the Nuggets, beat the Jazz in Salt Lake City, or hold the Warriors to 32 percent shooting based on luck.
Rivers put a structure in place for this squad back in October that took a while to support the weight of a largely revamped roster. But as the injuries piled up, and the team fell dangerously close to the playoff bubble midway through the season, that structure has held through season-ending surgeries for Leandro Barbosa (left ACL), Jared Sullinger (back) and Rondo, and a slew of new additions since the All-Star break.
It’s fair to say that the majority of C’s supporters and media felt that while the team did seem to be better and deeper on paper, it would take Doc some time to integrate everyone and figure out just how to use each new player. In this recent stretch, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have carried the team while each game a different player has also stepped up. Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa (before he got hurt), Courtney Lee (his best month of the season was February) and of course, Avery Bradley have all had their individual moments. But collectively, their defense has been at its best during this season saving run.
When you build a team with depth and when you have a GM like Danny Ainge to find solid players to quickly plug emergency holes, it’s great to have a coach like Doc to put it together on the floor. It’s also great to have a group of players that understand that the spotlight won’t be on them individually every night and the way for them to win is to play as a team. As they continue to climb up the Eastern Conference ladder they will only gain more confidence in that system.
Another good story was Chris Forsberg’s piece on T-Will:
Despite his ballhandling talents, Terrence Williams had never considered himself a pure point guard. So as he plopped down in Danny Ainge‘s office for an offseason meeting last summer while working out with the Boston Celtics in hopes of landing a roster spot, Williams was taken aback to see his name on a whiteboard below a column labeled “Best Point Guard Available.”
Confused, he alerted Ainge to the error.
“I was like, ‘I think you want to move me over to the 2-guard. I don’t think I’m the best 2-guard available, but I think I’m a 2-guard,'” Williams said. “He was like, ‘No, I think you’re a straight point guard. You can be a point guard.’ And I was like, ‘Wow.’ I never had a coach just tell me, ‘You can be a straight point guard.’ I never had that.”
ESPN Boston – Terrence Williams finds his way with Boston Celtics
I just love this subtle move by Ainge. Is TWill a franchise player? No. Is he an all-star starter, or even a starter for this team? No. But Ainge knew exactly what he was doing here, planting some seeds for thought into TWill’s head for the future. Williams outright stated that no coach had ever been that firm with him in terms of his stance as a player. Now with someone of Ainge’s caliber (GM for the Boston Celtics) embedding that thought in the back of his mind, maybe he approaches everything he does with more conviction. Maybe since then, every workout he had he dedicated himself towards thinking like a point guard. Ainge is a shrewd guy, and I love these little things he does. I’m sure he’s not the only GM in the NBA with these Jedi mind tricks, but it’s good to know the GM of the C’s is one of them.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Doc to Crawford: Keep shooting | Boston Globe – Paul Pierce won’t be stopped by a pain in the neck | Nightmarish Sixers season is taxing coach Doug Collins (Sunday Notes) | Boston Herald – C’s trio appreciates new digs | C’s lineup sized up (Sunday Notes) | Danny Ainge can’t pass up on Terrence Williams | CSNNE – Bounce-back from fall vs. Warriors symbolizes season for Green