On the day that Danny Ainge announced his resignation as president of basketball operations of the Boston Celtics, 76ers coach Doc Rivers fondly recalled what he meant to his own coaching career.
Ainge was replaced by head coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics now are searching for a new head coach.
Rivers was fired as head coach of the Orlando Magic in November of 2003 and it wasn’t long after that he heard from Ainge, who was executive director of basketball operations for the Celtics at that time.
“Literally within a week of me getting fired Danny Ainge is the guy to call, it was in the middle of that season and they had an interim coach at the time,” Rivers recalled before Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. “I mean that’s a long story, but at the end of the day he just said, ‘You’re the guy.’ He believed in me ...”
After that season on April 29, 2004, Rivers was hired as the head coach of the Boston Celtics. Rivers went 45-37 in his first season in Boston but the Celtics, into a rebuilding phase, were 57-107 over the next two seasons, but Ainge always strongly supported his coach.
“Every day he would come in and say ‘I’m sorry’ to me, ‘We’re going to get this right, I promise you,’” Rivers said.
In July of 2007, Ainge acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics. Boston won win the NBA title during the 2007-08 season and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals.
Rivers said he admired Ainge’s gambling nature in making deals.
“There were times when we disagreed completely on things but I trusted him, I’d say ‘Go for it, man, I can see you want to pull the trigger, let’s do it,’” Rivers said. “Some of those worked out more than some did,” he said.
Rivers said he talked to Ainge on Wednesday.
“He’s in a great place,” Rivers said. “I am happy for him.”
Thybulle in the starting lineup
With Sixers four-time All-Star center Joel Embiid out with a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee, Matisse Thybulle started in his place. Thybulle started eight of 65 games during the regular season. The Sixers were 7-1 in those games.
Neto returned to the Wizards’ starting lineup
Former Sixers Raul Neto, who started the first two games of this series, was back in the lineup, replacing Davis Bertans, who had replaced him the past two games.
Bertans, who had his best game in Monday’s 122-114 win over the Sixers with 15 points -- shooting 4-for-7, including 3-for-6 from three-point range -- is out for the series with a right calf strain.
Neto had averaged 6.0 points in 20.7 minutes during the first four games of this series.
NBA COVID Update
The NBA and NBPA announced that of the 278 players tested for COVID-19 since May 26, zero new players have returned a confirmed positive test.