WALTHAM – There’s a fine line between father and coach. The line gets finer, if not invisible, when it comes to Doc Rivers’s relationship with his son, Austin.
“Very little [coaching],” Doc said about the advice he gives. “I just tell him to stay aggressive, stay on his game, keep listening and learning. But I’m more of his parent. When he’s doing well, I knock him down. When he’s struggling, I try to boost him up.
“I’m just his parent.”
After being selected out of Duke by the New Orleans Hornets with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, Austin Rivers has yet to play an NBA game in front of his father.
But Wednesday night, when the Celtics host the Hornets, Doc will finally see his son in action.
Asked if he were looking forward to it, Doc said, “I’m actually not. I don’t even know what I’m looking forward to. It’s not like he’s playing a ton anyway. You never know. But as far as him and being on the floor, that’s a different feeling I still don’t know how to feel about it.”
In 36 games this season, Austin, a guard, has averaged 6.3 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 turnovers in about 25 minutes of playing time. But he has played less than five minutes in each of the last two games. He hasn’t scored a point in four straight.
“He’s just up and down,” Doc said. “You can see, offensively he’s not as aggressive as he should be, as he was. That’s a typical rookie year. You can see he’s playing in thought. It’s almost like our team early in the year. We kept saying we can’t be athletic until we stop thinking so much. That’s where he’s at right now. He started out struggling, then he went on a nice run. Now he’s struggling again. He’s just having a rookie year.”
Austin may have picked a bad time to run into Dad’s team: The Celtics defense is playing as well as it has all year during a six-game winning streak, allowing a little more than 85 points per game.
“That part won’t change,” Doc said. “We still want to defend, there’s no doubt about that. But it is a different dynamic. My wife and some of the kids are coming in and all these people want to come in to the game, I don’t even know how to deal with that. It’s just different.
“We talk every day. He’s still your son. He’s going to be my son during the game, before the game, after the game. None of that is going to change.”