Coming into the latest Celtics-Knicks series, the internets were ablaze with jokes about Mike Woodson's annual playoff exits for The Hawks and Knicks. However, thanks to some crucial mid-game adjustments, The Knicks now have a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. Boston's performance in the first two games has only exacerbated their disappointing year, which began with a slow regular-season start and culminated with Rajon Rondo's torn ACL. Despite the season-ending injuries to Rondo, Sullinger, and Barbosa, both fans and experts have questioned whether Doc Rivers coaching is to blame for The Celtics' recent play.
To me, Doc Rivers biggest failure came early in the season when he had Rondo constantly pounding the ball and bringing it up the court on the fast break. As we've seen with Wilcox, Lee, and Jeff Green, these guys are so athletic in transition that they should immediately be given the ball when ahead of the play. Under Rivers' system, our rebounders had blinders on, only passing to Rondo even if he was the farthest from the opposing hoop. As explosive as Rondo was in the open court, this took away a lot of easy buckets and caused #9 to do more work than necessary.
However, I do not think Doc deserves the blame for The Celtics play of late. Down the stretch, he did a fine job resting Garnett and Pierce for the playoffs while also giving Brandon Bass and Jeff Green opportunities to expand their game. While the 41-40 record was hugely disappointing for a team projected to be 2nd in the East, Boston did manage to avoid Miami in the 1st round. In Games 1 and 2 against NYC, the team executed very well in the first half, but mental lapses and fatigue resulted in humiliating second half collapses. Doc has actually drawn up some great plays for baffling uncontested misses. From Garnett's ice-cold mid-range game to Jason Terry's long-range bricks, there's not much a coach can do about wide-open misses. Woodson has been excellent, choosing to ride Kenyon Martin late and tweaking his defense to stifle Boston inside, but Doc Rivers is still a maestro in his own right. The C's coach will have to reach deep into his bag of tricks to outfox his New York counterpart, but with Rivers' long history of playoff success, Doc should be up to the test.
Comment below with your thoughts on Doc. Has Rivers been out-coached? How much of the blame should he bear for the team's struggles? Do you have confidence in him for Game 3?
And here, for your viewing pleasure, are some Mike Woodson memes: