Thursday, March 20, 2008

Close friends man the sideline

The two opposing coaches tonight are also close friends. It’s been that way for a long time for Avery Johnson and Doc Rivers.

“We’ve got a close friendship, always did from the time we played together in San Antonio,” Johnson said. “We’ve kept in touch. We talk a lot about the craft of coaching. I would say he’s obviously one of my closer friends. We compete in a lot of ways.”

Rivers was Johnson’s backup at point guard in the mid-1990s. The Boston skipper said that being in separate conferences puts less strain on the friendship, adding sometimes they go weeks without talking and other times they may chat five straight days.

The Celtics were completely rebuilt during the offseason, with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen coming aboard. Rivers likes the Jason Kidd pickup and the Mavs’ other recent changes.

“The additions they made a terrific, but I think doing it this time of year is difficult,” Rivers said.

Making it doubly difficult is Kidd being handed the keys to the offense. Rivers pointed out that while Devin Harris was a “one-man fastbreak,” Kidd’s influence is more widespread.

“Jason makes them a fastbreak team,” Rivers said. “In some ways that’s more dangerous.”

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