In a league where teams run similar offensive and defensive sets and teams play each other two to six times during a season, it is a daily struggle to find a definitive advantage over another team (superior talent notwithstanding, of course). But Boston Celtics head coach, Doc Rivers, seems to have found the secret. Befriend the opposite head coach, and use your son to watch other young, upcoming NBA prospects.
Rivers and Wizards head coach, Randy Wittman, are former Atlanta Hawks teammates and have maintained a healthy friendship since that time.
“Yeah we talk, he’s one of my best friends, and we’ll probably talk after the game, but we just don’t talk about our jobs, we talk about everything. We talk about how poor Indiana’s (Wittman’s alma mater) football team is, and then he reminds me that Marquette (Rivers’ alma mater) doesn’t have a football team.”
But on a more serious note, Rivers has noticed that the current incarnation of the Wizards’ team seems to taking on the personality of his good friend:
“He’s a no nonsense guy, and that’s who he was when I played with him. I loved playing with him. You know exactly where you stood … and that’s who he is, he tells you what he thinks, and he has the Indiana basketball blood in him. He loves basketball, and he believes that there’s a certain way to play the game, and he’ll demand that and you can see that. Watching the (the Wizards) the other night, the ball was moving and that was pretty impressive.”
There’s no doubt that Rivers and his defensive-minded team took notice at that ball movement, and Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett will do their very best to shut it down. But they will also have to contend with Wizards rookie Bradley Beal, who is yet another member of the Wizards who Rivers has inside information about.
Rivers’ son Austin and Beal played together and against each other in high school, and although Doc was playing close attention to his son, he could not help but notice Beal as well:
“They (Beal and Rivers) used to like each other for awhile, and they started ranking them (in high school) and then they hated each other. But Beal’s good, a solid, fundamental basketball player, and a great shooter. He reminds of a Jeff Malone, a thin Jeff Malone, except he can put the ball on the floor a little more, but he’s a terrific rebounder for his size.”
The Celtics have been NBA champions, they are contenders once again this year, and they’re a veteran ball club that has seen and done it at all. But heading into their match with the Wizards tonight, it can’t hurt that their head coach has 25-year friendship with the opposing coach and has gotten an up close and personal look at Bradley Beal, their lottery draft pick.