Posted by Brian Robb on May 21, 2009
I love my colleague Zach Lowe to death, but have to respectively disagree with him and David Thorpe about the shame and skeptcism they felt regarding Doc’s admissions of injuries to his two best players after the Orlando series. Call me a homer, if you want but I feel like I have to go to bat for Doc here for a couple reasons.
1) Doc didn’t volunteer the information
It would have been one thing if the coach gave up the information in the press conference following game 7. That I would have been somewhat skeptical about of him talking injury excuses for the loss at that point. The injury admission however came two days after game 7 following an interview in which he was asked directly about the team’s ailments. There was no need for him to hide his players’ injuries players anymore, so why not come out with the truth when asked?
2) Doc owed the information to Celtics fans
Zach Lowe all ready referred to this in his earlier post and I agree 100 percent with him on it. I had a number of serious questions about a team that is capable of being blown out by 20 points in its own building during a game 7. Despite the overwhelming number of minutes the stars of this Celtics team played throughout the regular season, a performance like Sunday’s was still inexcusable in my eyes on the surface.
After that game, I pondered the future of this team with my buddy JRo. How was Pierce a complete no show for that game? Did Ray Allen have anything left after failing to hit a jumper consistently for six games? Obviously KG’s absence affected this team’s play astronomically, but it still did not account for the drop off in those guys performance.
Therefore hearing the injury news was somewhat of a relief for me in explaining their play and put any questions I had in my head about those players’ ability to contribute in future years to bed. There’s a piece of mind that comes with knowing your guys gutted it out despite not being at 100 percent but its more than that for me.
As fellow Celtics Hub writer Brendan Jackson kindly stated upon hearing the news, “That makes sense, but I wish Doc would have let us known earlier….it would have saved me a lot of time from yelling at my television so much during that game.” Losing is tough enough, but knowing your team was gutting it out while hurting will make the Celtics fanbase sleep a little bit easier at night after a disappointing game 7.
3) Doc owed it to his players to share the injury news
This once again goes back to their performance throughout the Orlando series. Between Ray, Paul and Perk those guys helped will this team somehow to seven games against a well balanced and well coached Orlando team that took game 1 from the supposedly unbeatable Cavaliers team tonight. This is all after they held off an up and coming Chicago team in arguable the best Round 1 series anyone in basketball had ever seen.
Every time they went out there, those guys left it on the floor and never once did they complain about injuries in the aftermath of those losses. Allen and Pierce could have potentially been risking years of their careers with the amount of stress they put on their injured bodies in that series.
And even though everyone knew about Perk’s injury, about he shrugged off an MRI despite the shoulder being a chronic problem for him during his career. As a coach, Doc Rivers had to admire his guys so much for their effort, and likely felt like a proud father explaining to friends how his sons had come up short in a big game after they had sprained their ankle the night before.
Anyone who sees in harm in that, Doc speaking up for guys that are too modest or professional to make up or talk up excuses, even if they are serious injuries, then I fear hearing what it takes to know when its acceptable with you to share that kind of information. Final thoughts after the jump
I guess what it boils down to is this. If the Celtics had beaten the Magic in that series, and Stan Van Gundy came out with the news that Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu had been suffering from hamstring problems and bone spurs all series, my gut reaction probably would not have been “Excuses, excuses!” Instead, it probably would have been something along the lines of, “Wow, I guess that explains why we were able to stick with them for seven games.”
Zach Lowe is right about one thing though. That kind of skepticism of the C’s are showing how hated of a franchise they have become this past couple years. This reality must make both Celtic players and fans excited to get back at it in a few months.