There comes a time when everyone needs to be questioned for missed opportunities. Blame is starting to become more widespread and less concentrated in title town. The Boston Celtics have now come full circle with a six game losing streak to match their previous six game winning streak. The highest point of their season is now back to back with the lowest. Fingers are pointing all around, but when does a well tenured coach take a portion of the hit?
Doc Rivers is in his 9th season as the Celtics’ head coach. His tenure ranks among the league’s best and he is a pure player’s coach that backs his players loyally and faithfully sometimes so much that it comes to a fault. There are certain coaching and personnel decisions in crucial game situations that must be questioned.
Last night the Celtics blew a 19 point halftime lead in their devastating 58 minute loss to the Atlanta Hawks. They were outscored 16-4 in the second overtime and 31-16 in an abysmal 3rd quarter. Rivers chose to play Paul Pierce who appeared to need oxygen, a wheelchair, and a vacation with pay for over 40 minutes in the game. In the overtime periods Pierce was walking up the floor and it was an awkward and confusing sight to see as everyone from radio announcers to tweet-heads were screaming to remove Pierce from the game immediately. Pierce has been sky high on turnovers amidst the losing streak and shooting a dreadful 5-34 from beyond the arc.
The Celtics are in an awkward phase this year and one could see Rivers side in noting that the Celtics don’t really have that clutch go to guy to put on the floor in the final minutes of a game anymore. Rivers’ loyalty to Pierce is the kind that doesn’t disappear overnight but at one point in the 2nd OT period last night Pierce had his hands on his hips, flat footed and breathless and was sincerely looking to the bench for Rivers to take him out… at least that’s the way it appeared.
Some will say that this is a message Rivers is sending out to the rest of the team to get them to raise their game. Others will even speculate that it’s some strange form of discipline as the Celtics scoring leader has been struggling as of late. Either way, when a team is this desperate for wins something has to be tweaked or changed and these kind of decisions simply can’t afford to be made.
Rivers has wasted good games from players like Courtney Lee and Jeff Green because of his golden loyalty to the franchise stone. in a 58 minute game with Kevin Garnett fouling out in OT it’s tough to distinguish what the game-plan was, but Rivers late game coaching decisions have been questionable in recent times to say the least. There are a lot of tough questions here, but at some point all of them need to be asked. Ray Allen makes his first ever return to face his former team in Boston on Sunday, the Celtics collective confidence could not be any lower.