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Sports

May 22, 2008

Has Doc healed Celts wounds?

Bill Burt

BOSTON — Doc Rivers is like an umpire or referee.

We only realize he is the head coach of the Boston Celtics when his team lays an egg.

The Celtics are ahead, 1-0, in the Eastern Conference finals and everybody is happy, which means Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are the best.

That is today. That could change about 11 p.m. tonight if the Celtics lose to Detroit. Then Rivers will be mincemeat.

"I'm a genius one night and a dummy the next," said Rivers. "I understand. It goes with the territory. I can live with it."

Rather than wait for the NBA Finals, I will say this now: I like Doc Rivers, the basketball coach. A lot.

Unlike many coaches at this level, who simply give in to the "this is a players' league," which technically it is, Rivers is not afraid to throw around his two cents. And those two cents hurt some times.

"Doc tells the truth," said Pierce, whose nickname coincidentally is "The Truth." "If he doesn't like something or thinks you did it wrong, he tells you about. You don't always like hearing it, but he's usually right."

It's called coaching and Rivers ranks among the NBA's best these days.

He has made more adjustments the last month than you typically see from his good friend, Bill Belichick, who had a front row seat for Game 1 on Tuesday night.

Whether it's Eddie House or Sam Cassell, or P.J. Brown or Leon Powe, players who have appeared and disappeared a few times over the last month, Rivers has been spot on most of the time.

The fact that Cassell, who is a noted hothead, is with-the-program is as much a testament to Rivers as it is the Celtics' winning ways.

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