Doc Rivers received a standing ovation following a video of tribute to honor him last tonight in the TD Garden. Across from him stood the 10-year-old coach for the Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens( I kid, but that dude looks like he hasn’t graduated college yet).
A coach who brought Boston a title stood across from a young man who will be putting Boston in contention for titles in the not so distant future.
For one of the first times all season, the Los Angeles Clippers played Doc Rivers basketball. LAC came into tonight’s game giving up over 100 points per game and only relinquished 88 tonight to the Boston Celtics. Despite being 6-17 from behind the arc and having an overall shooting percentage under 45%, the Clippers managed to crack 100 points tonight against this gritty Celtics team.
For the first time all season it felt like the Clippers did not need to outshoot their opponent and there appeared to be an overall confidence on the defensive end. While they did give up a little bit to much on the inside to the likes of Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger, I was pleased with the overall performance defensively as it is definitely a step in the right direction for a team that has struggled mightily on that end of the floor.
Conversely, I could not be more impressed with what Brad Stevens has done for this Celtics team. Before I really get into the improvements they have made, I felt like Doc quit somewhat on the Celtics when he made it known he did not want to be part of a rebuilding process, but it is beginning to feel like that Rivers made the right call. Rivers knew that if he left, Danny Ainge would find a young coach capable getting this team back to prominence.
Well, they got Brad Stevens…. he might be a bit too capable, because this team is 10-14 and having success with a chock-full with average NBA players. It took the former Butler Bulldogs coach 10 games to realize that Avery Bradley is not a point guard, he is an athletic two guard who is one of the top three defenders at his position.
Stevens also converted perennial bench warming scrub Jordan Crawford into a combo guard who won NBA player of the week last week as he averaged a little over 24 points per contest in that seven day frame. The other three members of the Celtics’ starting five are experiencing career highs in their point per game totals. Stevens has stuck to the Celtic style of tough defense and his squad is 6th in the league in points allowed per game, while being one of the more undersized teams in the entire league.
I am a Los Angeles Clippers writer first and formost, but nobody can ignore what an iconic night it was for the city of Boston. A member of Boston basketball royalty squared off against an individual who will without a doubt be joining that fraternity when it’s all said and done.
Boston Celtics fans, you are among the most passionate in the entire association, and you easily could have booed Doc Rivers last night, but you didn’t. You gave him a thunderous ovation. Although it might not seem like it now with your current 10-14 record, your future is incredibly bright. Stevens is a real gem; just look at what he’s done with this current talent and begin to imagine what he will do once you get some real stars in Bean town.
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