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Thursday, December 13, 2012

River studies Belichick’s methods

State secrets are sacrosanct. As such, you’ll never hear any of the details that were discussed between Doc Rivers and Bill Belichick on Monday night escaping from the Celtics coach’s lips.

That doesn’t mean Rivers wore the cone of silence following Tuesday’s Celtics practice. Rivers sat in on the Patriots coach’s final offensive strategy session prior to the Patriots’ win over the Houston Texans, and gladly admitted that even for another decorated coach, it was a rare opportunity to observe a legend at work. ...

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State secrets are sacrosanct. As such, you’ll never hear any of the details that were discussed between Doc Rivers and Bill Belichick on Monday night escaping from the Celtics coach’s lips.

That doesn’t mean Rivers wore the cone of silence following Tuesday’s Celtics practice. Rivers sat in on the Patriots coach’s final offensive strategy session prior to the Patriots’ win over the Houston Texans, and gladly admitted that even for another decorated coach, it was a rare opportunity to observe a legend at work.

“There’s football in general, but then for me the Patriots do it on a different level,” said Rivers, who would only temper his affection for Belichick’s team should it be matched up against his hometown Chicago Bears. “Listening to what they said they wanted to do on offense before the game, and then watching them do it was pretty impressive. I love watching that team play. I was telling our guys today that it was awesome watching them – how they execute, how professional they are. When I go to a Patriots game I get so much out of it. I was in their offensive game plan meeting before they went out on the field. It was just really cool. It’s such a neat atmosphere, you can’t be around it enough.

“For me, it’s the execution – how they prepare for it. It’s different because they have one game to prepare for a week. When we have five (games) in a week or four in a week it’s a little harder to do. But everybody knows their job and they do their job.”

Rivers was even able to draw an immediate parallel between Monday night’s Patriots win and Wednesday night’s Celtics game at the Garden against Dallas.

Celtics guard Jason Terry, Rajon Rondo, Chris Wilcox and Courtney Lee accompanied Rivers to Gillette Stadium.

“What you don’t want is to make it a bigger-than-life competition,” Rivers said of Terry. “The difference (Monday) night is that the Patriots came to play, and the other team thought it was the biggest game in the history of their franchise. I don’t know what that is. That’s too big.’’

The parallels abounded.

“Rondo is our Tom Brady, as far as being the point guard/quarterback, Kevin (Garnett) as far as relationships,” Rivers said. “But that’s the other thing I observed (Monday). I don’t know if Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in history, but he has to be right there. It’s surgical, watching him play. And I don’t know if there’s been a better great quarterback in terms of his relationship with his coach. (Former San Francisco coach) Bill Walsh and (49ers quarterback) Joe Montana is the only other one that comes to mind for me. And they’re so different as people.”

Terry, too, picked up on the theme.

“Doc might have been stealing things from Belichick the whole time he was in Boston,” Terry said. “Everything he does is about execution and winning every possession, not just the game, but every possession. That’s very critical to our success and it’s a big emphasis. He’s the Bill Belichick of basketball, because of what he draws up in practices and the time outs.

“There’s a big emphasis on doing things the right way, whether it’s defensively doing our coverages or offensively the little things like setting screens and making sure you make the proper cut. Every single possession is so critical, like it is in football.”

Not surprisingly, Rivers relishes those occasional chances to talk shop with coaching peers from other sports. He was close friends with ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona. His friendship with Belichick has also grown over the years.

“I’m not going to say what (they discuss), but I do it and he does it too, with all kinds of coaches,” Rivers said. “You’d be surprised at how much that you can learn from another sport – even baseball, which is totally different. We talk. I go to things and he comes to our stuff at times. He watches and comes in the locker room. It’s a very good relationship.”

The relationship works, in part, because Rivers knows the rules of observer’s etiquette.

“I try to stay out of the way,” he said. “I’m really uncomfortable in that setting, because I know what it’s like before games for me. Football is a little different, because they’ve already done their stuff and they’re watching, but it was cool to watch.”