Has a coach ever been fired during the postseason? I’m going to guess no, so the Celtics should probably make history before game 7.
In a classic example of Doc Rivers’ in-game maneuvering, the Celtics, down by 3 points with a foul to give in the last 20+ seconds of game 6 in Cleveland, allowed the Cavs to waste almost 10 seconds before they finally sent Joe Smith to the line.
On the initial inbounds pass, LeBron James caught the basketball on the baseline corner, and was NOT fouled. In fact, he passed the ball to Wally Sczcerbiak, who was then fouled after some delay on the Boston side of the court. On the ensuing inbounds play (after great Celtic defense forced the Cavs to utilize their final timeout) Joe Smith was sent to the line with about 14 seconds left to play.
After watching both Smith’s free throws reach nylon, the Celtics set up what should have been a quick three from Eddie House or Ray Allen (who inbounded the ball). Instead, Doc Rivers set up a “play” that involved misdirection, miscommunication, and mishap. Errant attempts at “offense” led to the game quickly ending in favor of the undermanned, severely less talented Cavaliers.
Rivers also displayed his tremendous coaching acumen throughout the rest of the night.
First, he left in Glen “Big Baby” Davis despite several misses due to the length of the Cleveland big men occupying air space above the big Boston Cream. The infinitely longer P.J. Brown sat. Leon Powe also sat; Powe is undersized, but has shown a knack for finishing around the basket and drawing contact. Oh, and he’s better than Big Baby.
Next, Rivers finally relented and played Eddie House over the rapidly decaying Sam Cassell, and the gunner responded with 8 points in 18 minutes–which is about 8 more points than Cassell would have produced.
Finally, once again, Rivers left Ray Allen in to log a whopping 42 minutes of burn despite ageing ankles, poor production (9 points on 3 of 8 shooting) and pathetic defense on athletic marvels such as Sasha Pavlovic and Wally Sczcerbiak.
Doc has done a poor job in the postseason, plain and simple. Winning 66 games in the regular season might be the only way his team escapes the second round, merely because posting the league’s best record means 4 home games in a 7 game series rather than 3. Regardless of how game 7 plays out, it appears that this team doesn’t have what it takes to win it all; or rather, Doc Rivers doesn’t have what it takes. The roster is perfectly capable of maintaining much more than a basic quorum of wins against any team history can offer, but with a lack of direction from the bench, even a powerhouse can fail to live up to expectations (hello, President Bush).
Harping on Rivers’ negatives may be beating a dead horse at this point, but leading Doc out to pasture might be the only way the Celtics hang Green 17 before its current crop withers in the summer heat.