LOS ANGELES — Celtics coach Doc Rivers is not immune to what goes on outside the Celtics’ circle and he said Thursday morning that he learned of close friend Avery Johnson’s firing the night before. The Brooklyn Nets fired Johnson as their coach after 10 losses in the past 13 games, including a 93-76 pasting by the Celtics on Christmas Day.
“It’s awful,” Rivers said. “Obviously it’s the business we’re in. But it’s a tough one. He’s one of my best friends. It comes out of nowhere. Avery’s a terrific coach, so who knows?”
While the Celtics beat Brooklyn in their previous meeting, they had major trouble with the physical Nets in the first two meetings. And the Nets were once one of the league’s hottest teams.
“I just saw that they beat us two out of three times,” Rivers said. “If you (go back to) three weeks ago, they were playing as well as anybody. The NBA is a league of ebbs and flows.
It is. You go on good streaks. You go on bad ones. You right your ship and go back on a good time. I thought it was awful quick to make a change. I’m very surprised by that, but listen, I don’t work there, I don’t do business there. My friend is Avery Johnson.”
• Leandro Barbosa was not with the team at shootaround and Rivers acknowledged he’s going through a “tough situation.” It is uncertain when he will join the team.
• Rivers reiterated Avery Bradley will not join the team on the west coast and is still projected to return Jan. 2.