MILAN, Italy — Doc Rivers opened up Saturday afternoon about how he plans to approach members of his team in this critical season. He talked with the Italian media for about 20 minutes and said he plans to take time reshaping mentalities and approaches.
On Darko Milicic: “He just needs a chance; he just needs a team that wants him to do his job without asking him to be the No. 2 pick in the draft. We’re just asking him to be part of a group and part of a team. We give him roles on the team. I think he likes the roles that we’ve given him and he didn’t feel any extra pressure. So far so good. We just have to keep him in that frame of mind that he’s in now.
Milicic has obviously been bogged down by the pressure and expectations of being selected so high in a draft class that has become one of the best in recent memory.
“You can see that he gets frustrated easy,” Rivers said. “So we’re trying to eliminate those episodes. Our thing right now with Darko is to play forward. From being around for a short time, as a coach I can probably feel he’s played his career backwards. He lives in the past a lot and we’re trying to get him to live in the future. I told him (Friday), the only time I’ll take you out is if you make a mistake and make another mistake because you’re thinking about the last mistake. I won’t take you out for making a mistake. So hopefully that works.”
Rivers also touched on Rajon Rondo take more of a commanding role with the team.
“Basketball-wise we want him to make his jump shots a little bit more, we want him to make his free throws,” Rivers said. “But leadership is the wrong word, it’s more being the team general on the floor. That’s to me where I want him to really improve. I’m really pushing him this year to think like me on the floor. The better he does that, I can sit on the sideline and maybe have a cup of coffee or something during the game. I just think it’s really important for him because of our offense. He doesn’t need to look to the sideline for every set, he can feel it; he knows it, having him draw up plays more. I think it’s a good progression for him.”
And finally on whether the Celtics should target the Heat and the Lakers in making their title run: “Just Miami,” Rivers said, “The Lakers have won nothing. They just have a lot of players. A lot of good players.”