I have said it before and I am now strongly convinced that Doc is the weakest link in this team. We have a lot of young players who are coming into their own this season. We have talent and depth but what we don't have is a head coach who knows what he is doing. He says all the right things, but I haven't seen him doing the right things. Last season he was incapable of managing the rotation, making wise decisions during games, and teaching defense to a young team very capable of playing it. I haven't seen anything so far this season to prove that he is any better at those things than he was last season.
First and foremost is his lack of respect for defense. Last year he made the comment that He worked on offense in practice because that was the hardest to get and that the players would pick up defense while practicing offense because "after all half of the team is playing defense when they work on offense." This would seem to be a bad approach to coaching because our team desperately needs more defense. We won't win without it. Any coach who doesn't stress defense is not a good coach. Defense wins games and championships and a team go nowhere without it. We saw that last year very clearly. We had a good offense, but terrible defense, and we won 33 games.
Second, Doc doesn't know his players. He plays Scal big minutes in 2 preseason games. He doesn't need to see what Scal can do. We all know what Scal does and it isn't much. At the same time that Scal is getting big minutes, Powe is sitting on the bench because he doesn't "get the system." Doc finally gives Powe some minutes because of Scal's injury and he produces and plays perfectly within the system. I can't believe that he played poorly in practice and then suddenly "gets it" when put into the game. Last season we had a similar situation with Gomes. He never got off the bench and then finally when Doc was forced to play him due to injuries, he came in and became a star. I can't believe that Gomes wasn't showing enough in practice to warrant some playing time.
Third, Doc doesn't have a clue as to how to use our bigs. He played Raef big minutes last season because he loves a center "who can spread the floor." Raef rarely played under the basket and roamed on the 3 point line. This year he made a remark about liking centers who play under the basket. When did he develop this proclivity? Doc last season constantly played Blount big minutes,even though he was turnover prone and didn't rebound. Because of this, Perk has gotten precious little playing time over the past 3 years.
Doc loves small ball but doesn't realize that when you go small ball, you will be at a big disadvantage on the boards if you don't keep at least one of your bigs in with them to grab rebounds. Yes, the small ball teams are faster and can run more, but you can't run without the ball. Also, our young bigs play tentatively because at their first mistake, Doc tends to pull them and sit them. They know that they get very little time in the first place because Doc tends to rely on veterans, whether they play well or not, to the young bigs. And they are afraid of making a mistake because they don't want to be pulled from the game and that makes them more tentative. This preseason, we should have been stressing our bigs and seeing what we have and instead, for 3/4 of every game, Doc plays small ball and for much of that, without a rebounder and shot blocker in there. Last night's rally wouldn't have happened without Powe grabbing 15 boards.
Last but not least, Doc's rotations are bizarre. He will stick with players who are not playing well and pull players who are playing great but make a mistake. He plays small ball way too much and doesn't keep defensive units out there enough. His chosen starting lineup is veteran heavy, and a half court team. They don't run and settle for way too many half court sets and usually Pierce with an ISO. It is great for veterans to start, but not at the expense of abandoning the running game.
I am not alone in my assessment of Doc's weaknesses. Here is a quote from Mike on BSMW's Full Court Press.
I certainly don’t think Doc is at the top of his profession. He seems incapable of managing his team’s rotations, to the point where it seems like every other game finds the Celtics with 5 subs getting run off the floor by an opponent playing 2 or 3 starters. Similarly it is rare to see the Celtics play a solid game two games in a row. Most people would lay that at the feet of the youth movement, but the coach has some say in that too.
Also, Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy, constantly called out Doc for his poor in game decision making and his inability to manage the rotations. It seems that already this season, we are in for more of the same.
I firmly believe that if this team fails to make the playoffs this season, it will be Doc's fault. Danny has continually stuck by Doc and supported him. But when it is obvious to everyone else, including 99% of the fans and media, that Doc is a poor coach and is costing us games by his inability to manage rotations, failure to play deserving players while playing others who don't deserve playing time, and his disregard for the importance of defense, something should be done by the organization. I don't know who would be the best coach for this team, but I do know that Doc cost us quite a few games last season and will do the same this season if he continues along the same road he has been following.
I once was a Doc Rivers supporter, but even I admit that he's now on a short leash.
Good coaching makes a big difference. We've seen what Avery Johnson has done for the Mavs--he took them to the next level. We've seen what Rick Adelman did for the Sacramento Kings in the late 90's when he took a horrible franchise and turned them into one of the top teams in the league.
One could even argue if the Heat would have won the championship had Pat Riley remained in the front office and Steve Van Gundy continued on as coach.
This is probably Doc's last year to show that he can do something with this talent. Ainge must not allow mediocracy to continue. He's doing an excellent job of acquiring talent, but he needs a coach who will translate the talent into wins.
I don't know if there's a coach out there right now who's got a solid resume. Maybe Dennis Johnson? He's currently a D-League coach, but I'm sure he'll take a head coaching job in the NBA at the drop of a hat. DJ was a solid defensive player in his playing days and maybe he'll inject some defensive orientation here.