They weren’t always on the same page, but Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers are definitely singing from the same sheet of music now. And with Training Camp 2012 about to get underway, and with an influx of new faces on the roster, having synergy between head coach and veteran leadership is more important than ever. From what we’ve seen over these past five seasons, Rivers has earned the respect of the once-impetulant Truth, coaching the future Hall of Fame player with a mix of savvy X’s and O’s and a ton of gut feel. It’s a recipe for success, no question about it, and now these two men embark on perhaps the biggest and most important quest of their basketball lives.
For Pierce, the window is closing and closing fast. He’s no longer in his prime – even Pierce himself will admit as much – and, as we have witnessed, he’s also more injury-prone than ever before. Rivers understands this as well, which is probably why he’s so happy that the Celtics were able to keep Jeff Green in the mix. Green will play multiple positions to be sure, but his main gig will be to not only spell Pierce, but to curtail the captain’s minutes as the season wears on. So you can expect to see a healthy dose of Green on the back end of those grueling one-and-ones. And because coach and star are so much in sync these days, don’t expect any drama if Green ‘steals’ significant minutes from Pierce. The goal is a championship. Rivers knows he needs a healthy and reasonably fresh Pierce at his disposal once the playoffs start, and the best way to accomplish this is to give Green considerable playing time.
And don’t expect Pierce to complain. He’s secure in who he is and what he means to this team. He’s still the go-to guy in the clutch, the team’s best closer, and he knows that he’ll be logging big minutes come playoff time.
So, as training camp beckons, friction between head coach and superstar captain won’t be one of the storylines we’ll be following. Rivers and Pierce respect each other enormously. There’s a huge amount of trust between these two men. It sets the tone for the rest of the team, which is a good thing with so many new faces coming to town this season. And, as the great Bill Russell recently pointed out, chemistry is one of the most vital parts of any team’s success. Sure, you’ve got to have talent. Plenty of teams have talent. But you’ve got to have that synergy if you’re going to really be special.
Rivers and Pierce have it.
Let’s hope it rubs off on the new guys as well.