Offday notes: Keeping the band together

Celtics coach Doc Rivers meets with the press Friday afternoon.A collection of news and notes after Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Lakers coach Phil Jackson met with the media Friday afternoon at the TD Garden:

The rundown (a quick look at offday headlines)

* Rivers notes he'd like to keep core together next year

* Bench shouldn't get big head from Game 4 stardom

* Loose balls: Doc on Boston sports scene; Jackson on Bynum


Regardless of the outcome of this series, there's the possibility that Sunday's Game 5 will be the last time Boston's latest Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen will share the Garden floor.

Allen is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, while Pierce holds an early termination option on his contract. After three years of overwhelming success that will include at least one NBA championship, could this be the trio's last hurrah in Boston?

Rivers indicated Friday that, while the team hasn't discussed next season, he's in favor of keeping the band together, even with his own future at the helm of the team uncertain amidst reports that he might walk away to spend more time with his family.

"We don't talk about it at all, and I don't think this [the window of opportunity is closing], anyway," said Rivers. "I've said that -- I said it in the middle of the year -- I think, hopefully, we sign Ray back. I think I can say that; If not, I just got fined. I think Kevin is going to be better next year because of a year away from surgery... So we don't think that [the window is closing]. I think everyone outside of us, a lot of people do."

As a team, the Celtics have shied away from discussing anything beyond the present. With their backs against the wall during the Cleveland series, both Pierce and Allen shook off any questions pertaining to whether they ever pondered the mortality of the Big Three.

During the regular season, both the Celtics and Allen expressed an interest in extending their relationship past this season. It will be interesting to see if Boston's desire remains the same in the offseason, while Allen is sure to be lured by deep-pocketed suitors (especially ones spurned in the big names sweepstakes) during the summer's free-agent bonanza.

The Celtics do have Bird Rights working in their favor, allowing them to spend more money on Allen without hurting their salary cap situation, as the team is already set to commit $63.3 million on just six players in Pierce, Garnett, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins, and Rajon Rondo. Boston spent $86.5 million this season, meaning they'd be in the neighborhood of $23 million for six to nine more players to fill out their roster (or an average of $3.83 million per player, at the minimum of 12 bodies).


Rivers indicated that the success of his bench in Thursday's Game 4 triumph leaves him no more likely to alter his rotations or playing time than before the tilt.

"No, it'll encourage me to put them in at the normal time, and then if they play well -- listen, last night was [last night] -- each game is a separate game as far as I'm concerned," said Rivers. "It goes by feel, and sometimes it goes by gut. I just felt like their intensity was at a level that our starters wouldn't have been able to match last night. And so you just ride them.

"But, again, every game is a separate game. I do trust our bench, and so if they're playing well, it would be nice to use them. I look at it in a lot of ways with our starters, especially with the Big Three, the more they're sitting the better for them in the long run if the lead can get extended."


* Doc on the Boston sports scene and the relationship he enjoys with other coaches in town:

"All I can say is it's an amazing scene because it's a group of knowledgeable fans for the good and the bad of that, and it's mostly good -- I'd say 99 percent good," said Rivers. "I get it all the time from other coaches, how do you deal with that, and I say, it's great, they care, they have passion. If you can walk through life with a bunch of people with passion, I think you'd rather have that.

"And then the fellowship of the coaches is terrific. You know, we all share texts and calls together, so it's really a neat thing. I don't know if you can get that in any other city. But it's in our city, and it's great to have."

Rivers then noted how he often texts with Red Sox skipper Terry Francona during the course of their seasons.

* Rivers threw out a preemptive strike against all the positive stories being directed at Tony Allen for his ability to limit Kobe Bryant at times during this series.

"You guys are setting Tony up right now with all this Tony stopper stuff, if I know my Kobe Bryants," said Rivers. "It's a team [defensive] effort is what I hope all of our guys are saying, No. 1, because it really is."

* Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn't have a status update on Andrew Bynum, and kept it light when discussing Lamar Odom's need to step up if Bynum is limited.

"I haven't got any expectations," Jackson said of Bynum. "I don't know what his condition is today. He was going to see the doctor later this morning, but in the transition, I didn't get another check with him."

And what can Odom do to get a jump?

"I was thinking of an electrode," Jackson said to laughter. "Something that would really be a stimulus. What do you suggest? No, we're just trying to find a comfort spot for him out there. He looked uncomfortable [in Game 4], and he had a couple double whammies go against him; Garnett out there for a while and then he had Davis coming at him, and things kind of snowballed on him."

* Jackson said his team would do nothing out of the ordinary to goad Kendrick Perkins and Wallace into their seventh technical fouls of the postseason, which would earn each player a one-game suspension for their next infraction.

"That's not fair play. That's not the way to play games," said Jackson. "You can be provocative and get out there and act kind of like they do, if you want to, and get in people's faces and do that. But that's not the way I like to coach a team. That's not what I consider positive coaching, and that's what I like to think is the right way to do things."

* Most of the Celtics enjoyed an offday Friday, but Rivers did note that Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney, the two late-season additions brought in with eyes towards competing for jobs in the summer league, will be in Waltham working out.

The Lakers likewise held an optional session with regulars advised to rest and those who hadn't logged heavy minutes in Game 4 able to go get in a workout with a limited staff.

Both teams resume full practice sessions Saturday at the TD Garden. The Celtics plan to watch film there before getting on the court Saturday afternoon.