Boston Celtics: 2013PreseasonGame5
BOSTON -- Before the start of Tuesday's exhibition tilt against the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters to leave early in order to watch the presidential debate, and he'd consider doing the same. It seemed like he was joking, but maybe he wasn't.
Rivers tossed the keys to the coaching car to assistant Armond Hill at halftime and remained in the locker room for the second half. If Rivers had the debate on, he had a second TV with the game nearby as Hill said he knew every detail.
And even though the Celtics' third-teamers coughed up a double-digit lead in the final minutes as the Nets emerged with a 97-96 triumph at TD Garden, it was a good learning experience for Hill.
"[Rivers] just came to me and said, 'Armond, you're coaching the second half,'" explained Hill. "He's always said that as much as players are in training camp, so are the coaches. And so what would happen if he gets thrown out? We have to be prepared."
The Celtics were up two coming out of halftime, but soon stretched their lead as high as 12 in the second half. That lead was still at nine with less than three minutes to go before the Nets rallied against a Boston lineup that featured Kris Joseph, Fab Melo, Rob Kurz, Micah Downs and Jason Collins.
Rivers told Hill that he should have kept a ball-handler on the floor with that unit as Boston rushed shots with a chance to take the clock down. But Courtney Lee was cramping and Hill let the younger players work through their struggles.
Boston still had a couple of chances to win the game and unofficial assistant coach Rajon Rondo grabbed the clipboard to draw up a final play. An inbounds lob gave Downs a chance to convert an alley-oop at the rim, but he couldn't get the shot off in traffic.
"We got what we were looking for," Rondo said. "I just can't really comment on it. I think you get fined for saying certain things as a coach, so I think the guys did a great job executing out of the timeout, and it just didn't come up."
Hill, who smoothly handled Rivers' postgame duties with the media, liked being thrown into the fire.
"I can only thank Doc for giving me the opportunity to coach," Hill said. "That's what we're all here for. He's taught me; I've been with him and he'll continue to teach me and he's given me another opportunity."
And what about Rondo? Does he have a future in coaching?
"He always says, 'I'll never be a coach,' but he has that instinct," Hill said. "He has a great basketball IQ, so I hope he does it."
THE NITTY GRITTY
Celtics captain Paul Pierce put together his finest outing of the postseason, erupting for 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while adding five rebounds and a pair of blocks over 26:46. Courtney Lee, running with the starters, chipped in 13 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. The Nets didn't play any of their top six players -- starters Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez were held out, while MarShon Brooks is battling right foot tendinitis. Andray Blatche seized the opportunity as the Wizards amnesty castoff finished with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds over 24:57.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers elected to watch the
The Celtics started Lee and Jared Sullinger alongside their Big Three. Sullinger got a taste of a physical game matching up early with Reggie Evans ... Darko Milicic (mild right wrist sprain) did not play and received a cortisone shot after the game. He is not expected to play Thursday in Brooklyn, but Rivers hoped to have him back on the floor against the Knicks on Saturday in Albany, N.Y. ... Jeff Green hit the floor hard midway through the second quarter, but was no worse for the wear. Green didn't have a great night shooting the ball (some layups wouldn't fall), but got to the line consistently (7-of-8 overall).
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (1-4) won't fret another exhibition loss, even if it was against the Nets' junior varsity squad. And given the dud that Boston delivered in Philadelphia on Monday, this was a preseason step in the right direction. Rivers' assistants (Armond Hill, Kevin Eastman and Mike Longabardi ran the bench) got some valuable experience, the core players got some solid run and most of the crowd headed to the exits before the youngsters gave up the lead.
BOSTON -- A handful of pregame notes before the Boston Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets in exhibition play at TD Garden:
* Celtics coach Doc Rivers chalked up the decision to cut Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith to not enough spots on the 15-man roster. "Two good kids, both played hard," Rivers said. "Just really came down to numbers, and we just didn’t have enough room."
* Rivers said the team still plans to keep 15 players and is open to someone from the outside if a cheap veteran can help this team at any position, not just a backup ball-handler. "Maybe the Heat will cut LeBron [James] or whoever," he said. "We’re always looking. Every team is always looking. If nothing comes, does that bother us? No. It’d be great to get another guy at any position. Obviously, at [point guard] it would help, but we can’t also forget that Avery [Bradley] is coming back too. We don’t want to overdo the point guard thing." Rivers did caution that the moves are in no way a reflection that Bradley is moving closer to a return.
* Center Darko Milicic will sit out Tuesday's game -- and likely Thursday's trip to Brooklyn as well -- due to what the team dubbed a mild right wrist sprain. Milicic said he will get a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain after Tuesday's game and Rivers said he hoped to have him back on the floor for Saturday night's game against the Knicks in Albany, N.Y.
* Forward/center Chris Wilcox said his back is feeling better, but he will not rush back with a focus on conditioning and strength. "I’m just not ready," Wilcox said. "I’m not comfortable right now. When my strength and my conditioning get where they need to be, then I’m going to get back out there. I don’t want to go back out there too early and sit out again. I want to make sure this time when I come back, I’m right."
* Rookie second-round draft pick Kris Joseph talks about on the difficulty of seeing Christmas and Smith get cut Tuesday. "It's tough because you build relationships with those guys," Joseph said. "Especially Jamar and I. We really built a good relationship, camaraderie, on and off the court. And just to know that they put in just as much work as me, and they've been working just as hard, and to see them go, it's tough. But that's just the nature of the business." Rivers said the long-term potential of Joseph separated him from the others at this point.
* BOUNCE-BACK EFFORT: Sure, it's still the preseason, and head coach Doc Rivers isn't going to overreact to a loss, but he still wasn't pleased with Monday's lackluster effort. The Celtics backed up sloppy play with a pedestrian effort against the 76ers, doing very little to halt Philly once it got rolling. A more competitive mindset needs to be embraced on Tuesday, with Brooklyn making its first appearance. Being on their home floor for the first time should help matters, as should Boston having enough pride to not absorb back-to-back blowout losses, even during exhibition season.
* RONDO VS. WILLIAMS: It won't boast the intensity of the regular season or (potentially) postseason meetings between two of the league's top point guards, but Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams should each be good for a handful of highlights Tuesday night. Both have a history of stepping up when another of the league's top quarterbacks lines up in front of them, so it'll be interesting to see if those mindsets can be tamed with very little on the line on Tuesday. If nothing else, it's a free preview of what could be a blossoming rivalry with both players leading playoff contenders.
* TURNOVERS: Boston's Achilles heel from the last few seasons struck again Monday night, as the Celtics coughed up the ball 21 times (good for 20 Philadelphia points). Too many of Boston's giveaways came on unforced errors and lazy passes, which circles back to the initial effort issue. Some turnovers Rivers will be able to live with, if they come in the flow of Boston trying to do the right things. But when they're nothing more than an ugly blemish, they become far more difficult to forgive. The C's should look to clean up this part of their act on Tuesday.
* ROSTER OPENINGS: As the preseason rolls along at a fairly blistering pace, the pressure continues to mount for the fringe players fighting to secure one of Boston's final roster spots. While Dionte Christmas looks to be leading that charge right now, Jamar Smith is a handful of made jump shots away from re-entering the conversation (nothing will fall for him so far this preseason), and Kris Joseph could still be making progress on the practice floor. But with only half the exhibition schedule remaining, the time is now for these players to put forth their best auditions.
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