Monday, October 27, 2008

Celtics had a group of guys who were willing to be coached

Sports Illustrated's NBA Preview issue has a good story by Ian Thomsen about how the Celtics have demonstrated how "that in this era of the luxury tax and immature lottery picks, the poor can get rich quick, provided they're shrewd in remaking their rosters."

Boston's top three players -- KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce -- were all over 30 when they led the Celts to the NBA title last season.

"What they did tells you that if you get everybody committed and on the same page, you can focus on the team things," says Phoenix coach Terry Porter, who in Shaq, Grant Hill and Steve Nash has three players 34 or older. "Doc did a tremendous job, but more important, the players took some ownership and policed themselves. They stayed on each other and stayed focused on the task at hand."

From the beginning, Doc Rivers and his staff emphasized defense. Of course, a lot of teams do that. The difference is, according to the article, that Boston's leaders bought in.

"The biggest trick, which the Celtics did, is to get their best players to buy in," says Bucks coach Scott Skiles, who plans to invoke Boston's example to change the culture of his offense-first franchise. "That's going to be one of the challenges from the beginning, to convince some of the guys that if we really want to do something, we've got to build off our defense. And I think we will."

The article ends with a great quote from Doc Rivers:

"I had a group of guys who were very willing to be coached and weren't stuck on who they were. I hear guys say they want to win it, but I think what they're really saying is, I want to win it as long as I can keep doing what I do. I had three stars who said they wanted to win and they would change to do it. I don't think you get that a lot."