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KG talks -- to ESPN

Posted by Frank Dell'Apa, Globe Staff  April 12, 2009 04:26 PM

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Q: Favorite five coaches of all-time?

Doc Rivers: Oh that’s easy for me, you’ll know most of them, Mike Fratello, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Hank Rayman my college coach, and Glen Wenberg my high school coach, those are my five.

Q: So, on to the Big 3, last year they come in you know that got all these little quirky things about them how did they manifest themselves this year, did it become easier?

Doc Rivers: Yeah…I didn’t think last year it was as hard as people thought it would be, I thought that they were so willing to win, you know and that’s the way we phrased it…That they would….they sacrificed, they sacrificed that they basically would do anything…I thought that Ray struggled the most because I thought he had to make the most changes in his game….but on the floor I think it's been terrific, off the floor it’s been even better, I thought they made a concerted effort last year to go out together to bring guys with them. This year has been difficult in some ways because of the injuries…ya know Kevin’s been in and out, which puts more stress on Ray and Paul…Rondo is growing up and being more of a leader, so I want to hear his voice more, so I have given him at times the voice over the Big 3, and last year I didn’t do that, so this year it's been a change in dynamics in some ways, in group dynamic, but I think overall it's been very good.

Q: You mentioned Ray, he has all of his pregame routine interrupted sometimes because you’ve moved the shootarounds and things like that. This year, have you seen a difference, can he come and adjust to whatever you need?

Doc Rivers: Yeah you know, he’s so regimented, Ray Allen, which is a great thing,
it’s part of his professionalism….but last year when we started moving shootarounds to right before games it was infringing in his shooting, and so you can
tell he made an adjustment to that, I think he’s made the biggest adjustment of
this year overall. Actually just on the floor offensively, defensively…his game
preparation we communicate better, he’ll ask me what my shootaround times will
be so he can work around them, now when we do go later in the day like that, he
just comes earlier and gets his shooting in, so I think it's been a good fit for
him, a better fit this year.

Q: You’ve mentioned KG…how different is your team when he’s not in?

Doc: It’s ridiculous…when Kevin’s not in we are still a very good team…I think
we can still beat anybody, but, can we do it four out of seven and that’s the concern.
He’s not just a great defender on his own guy, he’s a great team defender and
he’s holds everyone accountable and that’s what makes us a good defensive team.
There’s a different sense of urgency on the floor when Kevin Garnett is in a
uniform, there’s no doubt about that defensively, and there’s an unselfishness
offensively we give him the ball, to be a ball mover offensively when you don’t
have him you don’t have that.

Q: So this injury that we have with his knee, are you resting him to
be better for the playoffs, or are you resting him because if he plays he’s
going to cause further damage to himself?

Doc: Well you can’t cause further damage as far as threaten his career, but he can
cause further damage as far as playing in the playoffs, ya know the soreness
grows and the swelling grows, we want to prevent that. It got pretty bad in the
games that we played so that was the alarm that went off.

Q: Is there any way that KG can be 100 percent for you?

Doc: No, I don’t know if he’ll be, I think as the series and the playoffs go on
he can become 100 percent, but, I think when we start in the playoffs he will not be.

Q: Getting back to the Big 3, you watch these guys interact and then
they come back there’s been talk of them having a small window, and that’s come
true a little bit here because each of them has been nicked up. How legitimate is
it to say that there is a small window?

Doc: Oh, it is a small window. It's funny, Jackie, last year when we got together
the first time, I had all the articles, they say we were going to make it to the
Eastern Conference finals, then the following year we may win it, then I followed it
with their ages, I said you don’t have a year to wait, we have to win now we
don’t…who knows what happens next year you guys are getting older…I said your
windows are not as big as Deron Williams's or Chris Paul’s, we have this window
right here, and we gotta make hay now, that gave them a sense of urgency last
year to understand that we wasn’t a team being assembled together to win next
year, we were being assembled to win now and they carried that torch the whole
year and I think they’re doing that again, they understand, ya know I don’t
think young guys ever get that you may get one shot at it then you don’t know
injuries or anything, and I think it’s funny with Rondo and Perk seeing Kevin get
these injuries, they see what I was talking about last year, ya just don’t know
when you get a shot, so you got to go for it.

Q: Big Baby is doing a nice job for you in Kevin’s absence, he’s grown
up a lot even more mentally than his actual game….

Doc: His game has been, I’ve even said that last year, the only thing he’s
improved is his jump shot. We gave him one homework assignment for the summer,
to improve the 15-foot jump shot and he’s done that, he’s improving his shot, he
still has to maintain the confidence when its not going in, the other thing that
he’s has to do is mature…on and off the floor and I think he’s done that…he’s
halfway there, let me put it that way, but he’s still growing and, I think for
the first time in his life, at least basketball-wise, he’s with a group of coaches,
he’s with a group of players who hold him accountable and I thought that was
difficult for him last year, and this year he handles it much better.

Q: It was a big deal made when KG got in (Glen Davis's) face, and for
whatever reason, he broke down….everybody, it was on YouTube…how does a kid like
him recover from that?

Doc: Well, because we have a close-knit team and we are a family. And, because
Kevin really wasn’t talking to him, he was talking to the team. We pointed out
obviously the guilty guy was the one who was crying. (laughter)…so you know we
watched film on that game and what they were not doing, and
Baby was a part of that, and he knew that sometimes he’s smart enough to trigger
that emotion. Sometimes Garnett can yell at a guy and they would have no idea
what he was talking about but Baby does, we kid him about it.

Q: Final Question…you’ve done pretty well against Cleveland so far this
year, why do you think you have so much success with them; you do a great job on LeBron ….

Doc: Well, we don’t do anything…we really just try to keep him in front of us,
and try to make him shoot over us…he’s had some big games against us…we’ve done
a pretty good job against him but he’s tough…I mean he’s as tough as any are to
guard in the league. He’s Shaq at guard, he really is, I mean he’s 260
whatever…he runs like a point guard, he’s just a very tough guy to guard. I
think the area that they’ve improved is that they’ve brought in more shooting,
and that makes it even tougher for us to guard LeBron.

MacMullan interviews Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

Paul who’s your Fav 4 players growing up?

Paul: My fav 5 players growing up Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic
Johnson, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins. I got all those posters on my wall

Not too many defenders on that list ….Uh Ray Fav 5 shooters of all-time?

Ray: Reggie Miller, Dell Curry, Dale Ellis, Craig Hodges, and Michael Cooper…

Q: ….No Ricky Pierce huh?

Ray: He was my sixth…but I grew up…well I lived in LA so I had to go Mike Cooper.

Q: OK Kevin…your Fav 5 big men?

KG: My fav 5 big men …I’m going #1 Olajuwon, #2 Kareem, #3 Wilt the Stilt, #4
Moses Malone, #5 Shaquille O’Neal.

Q: I don’t see any Celtics on any of those list?

Paul: Nobody liked the Celtics growing up…

Q: Oh, I remember (laughter)…that’s because you were growing up in Inglewood
watching Magic on TV right?

Q: …were you guys Celtics fans growing up?

All 3: Nah…

Q: was it against the rules….

KG: Not necessarily…I liked Larry Bird…But No…

Ray: I grew up..I was born in California…and lived in California for the second time so I was always Magic Johnson .

Q: I thought someone told me you saw Larry Bird shooting threes once in a
game…and you went out and start shooting threes…I thought someone told me that?

Ray: All of us did that…I think at some point…he’s one of those players that
regardless of the uniform that he had on just watching him shoot…everyone wanted
to shoot like him…it seemed like he made shot after shot…I think the other thing
too about the NBA is that…when we grew up it seemed like everybody could shoot
the ball…you know you got so many great shooters in the league…and I think
there’s been somewhat of a dropoff.

Q: Big 3 year two now…a little easier you got to know each other a little better…Kevin what did you tell me…what did you start in the Celtics' locker room?

KG: I started eating ….I started the tradition of eating peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches before the game but…I don’t think I’m going to get that credit today
but if you ask a lot of the guys in the locker room they’ll agree with me. …I
started that… I didn’t invent it…I brought it here with me…

Q: Well do you eat peanut butter and jelly before every game now?

Paul: Well I probably eat one if I’m hungry …(laughter and KG reaction)…one out of every
10 games, but if it's there or one in there I’ll decide to grab one…

KG: Oh, Lord have mercy, do you hear this ….

Paul:…not every game…

Q: One thing everybody worried about when you first got here is that you
all had little rituals…you all had things that you like to do…and you bumped
into each other a little bit …is it easier this year because you know now?

Paul: It’s definitely a lot easier...just being around them seeing their
different routines, their place in the locker room, their place on the
court…definitely makes it a lot easier…there’s times when you go in the locker
room and you look at the clock and you know exactly where Ray’s gonna be, I know
exactly when Kevin’s gonna be just by looking at the clock because it’s
something that they’re doing every game…and on the court where we shoot I know
what area Kevin likes to start and Ray…and so even in the locker room and on the
court I know where these two guys' comfort abilities is in those two aspects and I
try not to get in the way.

Q: So Ray, you got this whole thing about shaving your head, take a nap,
you do this, you do that, Doc used to switch it up a little bit with the shootarounds and what not…now do you come expecting it to be a little easier…do you
come expecting just about anything?

Ray: Well, it still changes some days we have depending on what the schedule is
we have some days we have shoot around a couple of hours before the game so, I
have to adjust, and I think on those days…depending on what happens after shootaround I just have to get there a little earlier than when I’ve been getting
there so I can stay to what I was doing if there was a regular game day but,
it’s like Paul said, it’s everything that we do, when I’m out there I know where
Paul is, I know where Kevin is, you know what training room table to be on, you
know who’s getting taped up, what time of the clock…it's like clockwork not only
for the players but also for the trainers, for the coaches, you know the ball
kids they know where to put guys uniforms and they know who needs what at certain
times. It definitely is…uh..it has a lot to do with having home-court advantage
knowing that you have your conveniences and knowing how you get prepared every
night for a game.

Q: Now KG…you sit a certain place before the game while Doc’s in the
huddle…and I understand that Rondo is sitting about two seats over doing the same
thing…have you started to realize all the impact you have on some of these young
guys, too?

Kevin: I just think not just with me that our young guys are definitely trying
to get better. And, Ray always preaches to them to have a routine, the common
goals that you are working toward, Paul always talks to them about being
consistent…and I reiterate hard work, so I’m sure they pull something from all three
of us and try to put it into their own routine, which is good, which is…I think
in this league is trying to be something special not just for today but for the
duration that they’re in the league they need to have a routine, they need to
have something consistent and that goes through with coming into
practice every day, being professional those types of things. So, I think the three
of us all influence the whole team in some way, shape, and form.

Q: You got this Big 3 going, the window keeps closing…I asked Doc about
it a minute ago and he was talking about window for the Big 3 is small…and that
he’s telling you the same thing again…you're hearing a lot about this because
you’ve all been banged up at one time or another…how concerned are you about
this window Paul?

Paul: Well my window for playing isn’t that wide open so, I figure I’ll play
another three-four years, hopefully Kevin plays, and Ray plays another three-four years
because if they leave before then, I think I’m going to retire (laughs)…I can’t
see myself going backward, so we know the window is definitely short for us and
we want to take advantage of these years and just like we always say right now
it took 10,11, 12, 13 years when we all agreed that these are the best years of
our playing careers.

Ray: I think that one of the biggest things for the three of us is you talk
about that window closing, and we always say for players later on in there
careers we do much more teaching in the locker rooms, and even…we do on the
floor but…once we go off the floor and unto the bench we still have to help by
helping those young guys in the game so, as our window closes Glen has to get
better, Perkins has to get better, Rondo has to get better, Leon has to get
better, then it makes the transition easier for us and we continue to win
because there’s no dropoff from what we’ve done and what we’ve put out there on
the floor.

Q: Do you agree with this idea though that there is a real urgency to what the three of you can accomplish Kevin?

KG: I can understand where Doc is coming from. We all understand that we are not
getting any younger…all types of situations happens throughout the year and
we’re trying to at the same time maximize the time that the group does have. Paul
reiterated three-four years so we are trying to max that out, take advantage of those three
or four years. If all three of us continues to play three-four years we’re trying to max that
time that we have together. Along with Doc, I don’t think none of us are looking
for any new coach no time soon, Doc is the BEST, and we value that and we take
all that into consideration with going forward.


Q: So we are coming down the end here…You have no Posey this year, no
P.J. Brown this year, but, you have a better Rondo, Big Baby, and Powe until he
went down. Does it balance out?

Paul: I think it does balance out. For one, Posey, what he brought was great
for us, championship experience but not having him allowed guys like Leon to
step forward, Big Baby to step forward, and you see by not having Posey or Brown
these guys are able to do that.You see the development for Baby’s been terrific
for us when he’s out there. Leon’s playing terrific and if you add these other
guys you don’t know how well they develop and I think they’re fillng that role
quite nicely, and I also think Perkins had gotten a lot better and the
development of Rondo of course and when you add those things into the equation I
feel like it does even out.

Q: Rondo’s in a tough position here ... Last year Doc would
make the call and this year he’s telling him (Rondo) he’s got to decide.
Sometimes he’s got to look right through you Ray and give it to one of these
other guys when you're calling for the ball…How do you deal with this young guy
looking you off and going with somebody else?

Ray: I just see sometimes he’s on my side and he’ll be looking on the other side of
the floor. I just want him to know that I’m available to him. Just the same
thing with Paul and Kevin. ... Even when I have the ball you know you
have a scoring opportunity or you make a play one side you know you're always
going to miss somebody especially with the lineup that we have. So I don’t
never want him to feel pressure to look at me and throw me the ball, I just want
him to know I’m an outlet for you, I don’t want him to commit a turnover, just sometimes
hand it off and we can make it easier, because that’s the thing we’ve been
talking about is us taking better care of the ball, and, being more efficient on
offense so, I just want him to be better, and, being better letting him know
that I always got his back, and, I’ll always be an outlet for him so he doesn’t
have to do anything that puts pressure on him, us, and our offense.

Q: So you mentioned last year that you had that abs injury, really the first serious injury you ever had…you’ve had to sit out a little
this year…how tough is it for you Kevin to sit and watch this basketball team?

KG: (sigh) It’s very tough…I’ve never been really injured in my career other
than last year, I’ve always been able to manipulate being hurt, and nothing real
serious. And, these last couple of years as you get older I guess it starts to
catch up, the minutes, your body don’t help either, it’s probably one of the
most difficult things I had to endure since I’ve been here, or even been in the
league.

Q: I think it’s a misnomer when people don’t see you out on the floor
they think you're not here…we know that your in the locker room before every
game…how much are you talking to these kids and getting them ready?

KG: Right now I’m in a battle with everybody…including these two on my right and left…

Ray: He doesn’t have a sports coat so he can’t come sit on the bench…

KG: No, I have a sports coat…(laughter)…it’s hard for me to sit on the bench
just because …like I said you can’t help these guys, yeah emotionally you can root
them on, you can give them energy, get them pumped up and all that but to know
that you can help and you would show different…and you would communicate or do
something in a different situation and not being able to do that is very, very
frustrating for me. And, like I said you don’t see me there with the guys…but as
soon as they come in the back I’m telling them what I see, I’m telling Paul,
Ray, Perk, Rondo, and some of the other guys, some of the bigs what I see and
give them encouragement.

Q: You guys are the underdogs now, everyone’s hopped off your train…How do you feel about that?

Ray: It really doesn’t matter to me whatsoever we know what our capabilities are,
everybody in this league, we’ve beat. I think we have…we did set the bar from
last year, teams during the summer time, they recruited players, they signed
free agents based on what we did over the course of the year. Trying to run or
compete with us. Even if Posey stayed here and we kept the same team that we had
last year, the league changed so that makes us a different team. Now we know
that, we got to do all the special things that we did last year, we gotta get to
that frame of mind where the execution was our big key, our big plan on both
ends of the floor and we are going to do it harder than anyone else. That’s what
we start doing toward the end of the playoffs. Regardless of who was in our
lineup, Posey helped us a great deal, he was great for us but we have young
guys now that can do it. I told some of the younger guys even when Kevin's not in
there he wasn’t leading us in scoring so it’s not about scoring when he’s out
you can help us with his leadership that he provides down low, protecting the
basket, always rotate and always having our back so when I know your back there,
I know what my assignment is on my guy. You know those things affect us a great
deal when Kevin’s out there, so pick those things up, let’s start putting that
glue back together that we lost when Kevin he had to sit down.

Q: Last thing…Kevin, explain to people why you don’t need home-court advantage…that’s everybody’s thing…explain why you guys don’t need it?

KG: I won’t necessarily say you don’t need it….I think it's a big
advantage…obviously. But when you can go on the road and win games it says a lot
about who you are as a unit. Last year, our biggest plus was we were known as a
team that was great at home and was just explosive, and I think as we got into
the playoffs…can we win on the road was a big question mark. And, I thought the
deeper we got into the playoffs the more we answered that question. I think…I
KNOW…I don’t think anything, I know we’re a better team than last year just
because last year I think we were just feeling our way through the journey. You
know we didn’t really …we assume what to expect but not to the exact. This year,
Paul and I was talking we know what to expect this year. I wasn’t
expecting the Atlanta crowd to be like that last year. We came in, like Phillips
Arena is packed, they sold out ... I wouldn’t of expected that…I WOULDN’T
OF. I think going through this whole journey now we know what to expect, you
expect the worst and you expect the other team's best. Because I feel like that’s
what we bring out of a lot of teams. I mean we sit and we watched games together
and we see completely different teams when we play that team. And, I think that
through that journey and understanding that journey and applying the things that
we learned from that, it's only going to make us a better team and a confident
team so that’s the reason that I know we can win.

Q: What’s the one thing that impresses you most about Cleveland?

Ray: I think that about the difference between both teams…it’s really about the
matchup between those two guys LeBron and Paul…if you look at any team that
Cleveland plays against they don’t really have a big three man that really goes at
LeBron the way that Paul goes at LeBron…so he has to work on both ends so he can
have a great offensive night but if he does and he relaxes on the defensive end
then he’s going to get it right back on the other side so, what it boils down to
is Wally, Delonte West, Mo Williams those are the guys that we have to contain.
We have to keep them from having big numbers anytime we see the box scores…West
and Williams got 20 each, Wally has 15, that’s when you're helping on LeBron and
they end up getting threes or they are in transition. You talk about you know those
two guys but if we allow those other guys to have big games than it eases him to
have as much pressure.

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