Doc Rivers is dealing with the same things every coach deals with every season: injuries, players who meet expectations, players to exceed them, and players who fall short. The difference between Doc and many other coaches is the sheer volume of what he’s dealing with.
There’s no need to rehash everything, but Doc’s been forced to come up with some creative line ups. He, like some of his now key players, is learning on the fly. He’s gone big and he’s gone small, and each has given him some interesting results. He’s got an advanced video system that tracks every blink by every player from multiple angles. He’s got a staff of excellent assistant coaches. He’s got a former player and former coach as his boss. And even with all those eyes, and with all of that data coming in, he’s getting some of his most helpful advice from people who’ve been trying to beat those lineups.
As recently as the past week, Rivers has spoken with opposing coaches about how they’re defending the combination of Paul Pierce and Jeff Green.
“It’s nice when you play, honestly, a team that’s not in the playoffs and you know the coach, because after the game you can ask what their reasoning is for choosing one or the other,” Rivers admitted. “It’s been interesting the comments that I’ve gotten back.“
Rivers wouldn’t disclose any details of those comments but did say that it has been “good information” and that coaches are typically willing to help him out.
“They’ve always helped, and they’re open, for the most part,” Rivers said. “I mean, they’re not going to tell you their secrets, but they’re going to tell you some of their thoughts.”
You can look back over the past few games and see what coaches he might be talking about. Former assistant Lawrence Frank coaches the Pistons and his friend Byron Scott coaches the Cavs. Like Doc said, they’re not going to reveal strategies that helps the Celtics beat them for years to come, but Doc’s friends will be happy to give him a little “we played you guys like this because…” help. Doc would do the same for them. Coaching is a brotherhood, and it extends beyond the active coaching ranks.
“There’s also a lot of coaches not coaching right now that you talk to a lot and even ask them, ‘Who would you guard?’ or, ‘How would you attack?’” Rivers said. “It’s good getting somebody outside of us, because they see us entirely different than you see yourself.”
Not many coaches have been fired this season – three, to be exact – so there aren’t a whole lot of candidates out there to fill the role that [Flip] Saunders served last season. However, he does have a certain group of old reliables that he’ll ping as the rest of the season plays out.
As Rivers stated, “I’ll still call the same group of guys.”
You don’t hear about stuff like this very often. We knew last year that Flip Saunders was helping out after he got canned. But it says a lot about Doc’s relationship building (and maintenance) with the coaches around the league when they’re willing to give him a hand like this.