Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to discuss the state of the Celtics, who are coming off Sunday's blowout loss to the Pistons that dropped them to 6-5.
"Too early to tell. I do like where we're going, we're trending, we're getting better in a lot of areas," Rivers said. "Also understand we just came off the toughest stretch that we're going to have this season, as far as seven games in 10 days, four games in five. We don't have another stretch like that this year. So, when you watch, let's say the Detroit game, you're trying to evaluate more on conditioning and fatigue, just so many other factors, instead of just watching your team play basketball."
Rajon Rondo has a streak of 34 consecutive games with double-digit assists, but there was some controversy about his most recent 10-assist game. Rivers acknowledged keeping Rondo in against the Pistons until he got his 10th assist even though the game was out of reach.
"It doesn't matter that much to me, honestly," Rivers said. "I can tell you I honestly didn't know about it until maybe a week ago, because I don't read much stuff. Then I heard the chatter before games, the reporters were asking about it, so then you know about it. I think it does matter to him, there's no doubt about that. I just don't want it to matter to him more than just playing his game. And I think for the most part he's done that.
"The other night I'm sitting there thinking we're going to lose the game with five minutes left, you could clearly see that. And that's the first time that I turned around and asked someone, 'Hey, how many assists does Rondo have?' He had eight, and I decided to leave him in and see if he can get two more."
Asked if he thought about how it might cheapen the accomplishment to have Rondo get his last two assists in garbage time, Rivers said: "Yeah, but in that case it's not like everyone stopped playing. The other team absolutely didn't stop playing. I just left him on the floor. If that had been a close game he'd have been on the floor. So, I didn't think it was that big of a deal."
Darko Milicic, signed in the offseason to provide depth in the frontcourt, reportedly has been considering returning to his native Serbia to be with his ailing mother. Milicic, a bust as the second overall pick in the 2003 draft, has appeared in just one game for the Celtics.
"It's up to him right now," Rivers said. "He has some family issues, more his mom. Not playing, and being in another country, and the NBA hasn't gone exactly great for him over his career. So, it's a lot of reasons for him to want to leave. And I understand that, and I told him that. So, I pretty much left it up to him. He has my blessing either way."
The Celtics have two 2012 draft picks playing with the D-League's Maine Red Claws, but Rivers said that if Milicic departs, it doesn't necessarily mean one of the rookies will get a call-up.
"I don't think we're in any rush to do that," Rivers said. "If we see somebody out there that we think can help us if Darko leaves, then yes. If not, patience usually helps in our league. Especially after the All-Star break, guys get released, other guys become available. I think we'll be patient."