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Rivers isn't locked away

Celtics coach tries to plan for games

DOC RIVERS Eager to return DOC RIVERS Eager to return
By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / November 18, 2011

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The NBA lockout has allowed Celtics coach Doc Rivers to travel to Serbia to watch his son Jeremiah play professional basketball and bounce around the Atlantic Coast to catch younger son Austin begin his freshman season at Duke.

While he is thoroughly enjoying the family time, Rivers is in the bizarre position of having November off, something that hasn’t occurred since perhaps middle school. Rivers has little to do with the labor situation and can only hope that the owners and players avoid the lawsuits and reach an agreement to salvage a season.

In preparation for that day, Rivers said yesterday that he is working constantly with his new coaching staff on reshaping the Celtics for a season that looks bleaker by the minute.

“We work as a staff, we go about three or four days a week,’’ said Rivers during an appearance at the Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club in Dorchester. “We’re out on the floor, putting [the coaches] through drills just to be ready for camp.

“I think as a staff we just kind of prepare, and that’s all you can do. That staff will be ready, I’ll tell you that. We’ll be in great shape by then.’’

It’s going on five months since Rivers has had a substantive conversation with any of his players. In a rather awkward situation recently, he and Ray Allen played in the same celebrity golf tournament near Orlando.

Asked if they had any interaction, Allen said last week, “No, it was like, raising up hands and keep moving. It was funny because he teed off on the first hole and I teed off on the 10th hole, and every time he finished nine, I was finishing nine, and we passed each other and it was like, ‘Hey, what’s happening?’

“I couldn’t call him ‘Doc,’ so it was like, ‘What’s up, Glenn?’ ’’

“That was strange,’’ said Rivers. “That was really strange.

“We actually had to walk by each other, so you can shake his hand and say hi, but you can’t have a long conversation with him.

“I mean, I miss being around [the players], all of them.’’

Rivers said he has spent hours watching video from last season; he and the coaching staff watched all 26 regular-season losses and all four playoff defeats.

As things stand, the Celtics have seven signed players and two rookies, leaving Rivers with the task of putting together game plans without knowing nearly half of his roster.

“You have to have several game plans going in because we don’t know who we’ll end up with,’’ he said. “There are key things that we didn’t do last year that we have to do this year.

“The turnovers hurt us all of last year. We didn’t get to the free throw line. We didn’t rebound as well as we should have.’’

Rivers, who signed a five-year contract extension this summer, has yet to coach a game to earn that salary, and he is eager to return. His preparation shows that.

“I think it’s been a good staff-building summer,’’ he said. “Like I was telling Danny [Ainge], I think the blessing in this is I realize I’m nowhere near ready to not do this. I mean, I miss it.’’

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashburn14

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