Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday, the morning after the Celtics won their season-best fourth straight game after a 87-79 victory over the Suns. The Celtics are now 18-17 on the season and 4-1 since the return of Avery Bradley.
“I think we’re turing the corner, I think we’re playing better,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think we played great last night, but defensively we were really good because Phoenix is a really good offensive team. … But overall I like how we are trending.”
Jared Sullinger had an outstanding performance in the win over the Suns, scoring 12 points and establishing a career best with 16 rebounds, his second double-double of the season. Rivers was asked what has impressed him most about the rookie this season.
“He plays the game with a great temperament,” Rivers said. “He’s intense, but he doesn’t get too high or low with his emotions on the floor. He played for a coach, his dad was a coach and you can see the basketball IQ, he knows how to play, how to think the game. What he’s improved on is his consistent focus, and he plays beyond his years.”
Rajon Rondo was suspended for Monday’s win over the Knicks for making contact with official Rodney Mott in the third quarter of last Saturday’s game in Atlanta (he was also suspended, according to the NBA, for failing to cooperate with a league investigation of the incident). Rivers was asked if he felt the suspension — the fourth in 11 months for Rondo — was justified.
“He did something wrong, but he didn’t do enough to get suspended would be a better way of putting it,” Rivers said. “When you walk up on a ref you put yourself in a position to get a technical or be suspended. Now, you could see when you watch it, the official was walking toward him as he was walking toward the official. They just kind of ran into each other, it wasn’t as if Rondo bumped him.”
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry was fined $15,000 by the NBA for what was called “inappropriate interaction with game officials” after the Celtics game last Saturday. It has been reported that Ferry approached the officials after the game and handed them a DVD of the incident between Mott and Rondo.
“I don’t like it, but it’s his choice,” Rivers said of Ferry’s actions. “I just don’t like it, especially in a game like that, it wasn’t the reason they lost. To me, it’s sour grapes and I don’t like that.”
As for the fallout from the post-game controversy from Monday’s game against the Knicks, Rivers was quick to deny the now infamous story involving Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, La La Vazquez and a certain breakfast cereal.
“I know what’s being reported did not happen. I know that as a fact,” said Rivers. “You know how this works, a guy does something crazy like Carmelo did, and the way to get of trouble is to say someone else said this. It happens all the time. And what bugs me about this is that this is not a Kevin Garnett issue. And it was made into one and it shouldn’t have been made into one.”