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Doc Rivers' tenure as the Celtics head coach has been tumultuous to say the least. I remember adamantly chanting at the then TD Banknorth Garden that Doc needed to be fired. His rotations were awful, he subbed too late, and it felt like he almost forgot he was coaching during the games. But we all know what happened in the end, winning one title and one dirty play by Andrew Bynum away from another one. And now I can’t imagine another coach leading this team, I won’t go back to Jim O’Brien!! I won’t!!

Dan Guttenplan from WEEI.com both praises and bashes Doc in this recent article, to emphasize the fact that Doc isn’t the best coach for the Celtics moving forward. I think that's a little extreme, Doc is easily among the top three best coaches in the league and people around here don't realize that. We should be counting our blessing after watching one of the worst coach teams in the NBA the other night, the Sacramento Kings.

Doc is a strong to quite strong motivator and phenomenal at drawing out of time-out plays, nobody can disagree with that, but he isn't without his flaws. One of the main points Guttenplan makes is that Doc is coaching this team like it’s the ’08 team, which I adamantly agree IT IS NOT. He’s had trouble getting the most out of key role players Terry and Green. He is constantly playing Terry like he’s Judas Shuttlesworth, running him off screens. I’ve said it for three weeks now, that’s not his game; he is most effective at Pick and Pop situations. As for Green I think it’s just in his mental makeup to be a starter, he doesn't seem effective at all coming off the bench.

But a few of Guttenplan’s arguments I don’t think make any sense at all, he claims:

Players like Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair and Glen Davis fell short of their potential in Boston and ended up experiencing varying levels of success in other stops. Maturity certainly was an issue for all four, however, Rivers struggled to bring a professional contribution out of all of those players.

I disagree!! Jefferson was still young and raw coming out of high school who went on to become a consistent 20 and 10 guy, and nevertheless he ended up netting us KG so the value of Al is in the eye of the beholder. Green needed to get bounced out of the league to get his head on straight and even still, maybe he just was never that good and shouldn't have been drafted that high? Ala Kedrick brown if you will. Telfair oh Telfair, you're going to try and pin him on Doc? A shooting point guard who couldn't shoot? And for Big Baby, I argue that Doc got the MOST out of him that we will ever see. In the 2010 playoffs without KG, Big Baby was a force.

Guttenplan then contradicts his previous point about molding young talent saying:
Rivers has been at his best in molding defensive stoppers like Kendrick Perkins, Tony Allen, Avery Bradley and Leon Powe.

So he can mold young players or can’t? Only if its defense? Obviously with the exception of Bradley, the rest of the guys on that list have done literally nothing since leaving Doc. Perk and Allen have showed flashes of what they did here in Boston, and Powe got injured but still he was a solid basketball player under Doc Rivers. Also what about Delonte West? West played awesome for Doc and since he left he hasn’t been able to put up the same production as well.

There’s no doubt Doc’s player development has been hit or miss, but you’re going to see that when an NBA coach is in one stop for so long. I’m sure Poppovich will have the same track record with players. But you can’t tell me that Doc isn’t a smart coach who knows what it takes to win. Although when it comes to Docs coaching style, I will agree that he relies too much on Pierce and Garnett:

Rivers' coaching seems to run contrary to Ainge's team-building. Ainge has seen the NBA evolve into a league dominated by athleticism and speed with teams like Miami and Oklahoma City leading the charge. Ainge has made personnel moves to address the shift (i.e. Perkins for Green). He also has added depth in recent years in hopes of lessening the burden on Garnett and Pierce in their advanced ages. However, Rivers has not made adjustments to his philosophy, continuing to build around the oldest players on his team rather than incorporate the younger players.

Can you blame the guy though? I would rely on KG a lot too. KG is so constant and can do so much, never mind the fact that Ainge didn’t really leave him many options, he’s head and shoulders above the rest of the big men on the roster.  But Doc's coaching style has run with Ainge's team-building, he's coaching year five of a three year plan, and this has been the result. He's been slow at incorporating the new guys but he's getting there.  This team loves to shoot mid-range jumpers and when they have a bad shooting night, it seems like they never try and adjust by driving to the rim. I look at that stuff more being on Doc, mid game adjustments and alternation of schemes. He started Sullinger these last few games, so that's a point in the right direction.

This Rondo injury will show Doc's true colors as a coach, will he play the hand he was dealt and alternate his plans to get the most out of his current players or will he be the captain that goes down with his ship coaching the same way? He needs to make adjustments and I believe he will, like he did when we acquired Garnett and Allen. Although post KG and Pierce era will be a whole new beast that will require a new coaching scheme to focus on Rondo. When that day comes I think Doc Rivers will be the best coach for the job.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattyMackay

Matt Mackay 2/01/2013 10:56:00 AM Edit
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