BOSTON -- The Bucks charged into the postseason like a stockcar across the checkered flag, while the Celtics backed in cautiously, like a mini-van negotiating a compact parking space. Boston coach
Further convoluting this difficult season, Rivers faced questions Wednesday about his future following a
If Rivers were to leave -- a decision he insists won't be made until after the playoffs -- then an obvious candidate to replace him would be
Rivers rates among the league's elite coaches, both for his tactics and his talent for dealing with players, and no one will be pushing him out the door because his qualities will be so difficult to replace. But two things are certain if he were to depart: He would become the
As Rivers deflected questions about his future before a 106-95 loss to Milwaukee, it became obvious that the 82nd game of the season was not a meaningless occasion after all. It was instead a theatrical display of two teams headed along opposing tracks. While the elderly Celtics rested five players from their playoff rotation (including every starter but
The Bucks have had plenty of reasons to accept the worst outcome this season, between the knee injuries to star shooting guard
Skiles understands why some teams face no other option than to hope for success in the lottery and rebuild with a high draft pick. But he and Hammond took the opposite course of trying to win now in order to accelerate the development of young players already under contract. "People think it's shortsighted if you try to get guys in [to the playoffs],'' said Skiles. "I think it's shortsighted if you try to do it the other way. ...For us the long view is we're here now, we're going to be playing postseason basketball, and our guys are going to take away a tremendous experience. And it's not beyond the realm of possibility that we win a series, and what an experience that would be. So for the growth of our guys, it's hugely important.''
An upset of the No. 3 Atlanta Hawks is highly unlikely without Bogut, but Skiles is looking forward to seeing how his players fight through the next week or two. "The older you get, the more you realize that overcoming difficulties oftentimes is the way your character is shaped,'' he said. "[Bogut] went down in an incredibly, incredibly horrific fall. It lasted about a second, but it was one of those deals, it seemed like it lasted 30 seconds -- he was exposed up in the air, our guys saw it, it was clear right away he was out. And our guys had a tremendous response to it. There was no real head-hanging, and they've rallied around him a little bit. Obviously we'd rather have Andrew playing -- he's a big part of our team -- but we can still show ourselves well while he's out.''
At 6-foot-1 and about 170 pounds, Jennings estimates he has lost five pounds over the season while becoming the first Bucks rookie in 40 years to start all 82 games. A team like the Celtics may go into the playoffs with a lot of experience, but the Bucks hope Jennings' youth will help him overcome everything he doesn't know. He looked alarmingly fresh Wednesday in spite of his mileage over this long season.
"He ain't but 10 years old,'' said Stackhouse, who is 35. "What does he got to be tired about? He's going to be revved up, and hopefully he'll be a step faster than everybody else.''