BOSTON — Among NBA players, both on the Celtics and throughout the league, Doc Rivers might be the most popular coach around. He reputation for instilling accountability while turning even the most mundane practices into entertaining competitions is well-known throughout the league, which may explain why players polled last season named Rivers as the coach they would most like to play for.
Being respected does not mean Rivers is always well-liked, though. After Rivers accused his team of being soft in Wednesday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets, very few Celtics players were singing his praises.
Two days later, with Rajon Rondo serving the first game of his two-game suspension, several players acknowledged that Rivers’ accusation stuck in their craws. The unfortunate victim of the Celtics’ irritation at their coach was the Portland Trail Blazers, who were blitzed early and often in a runaway 96-78 Boston victory on Friday.
“Numerous times we’ve been mad at Doc,” Celtics guard Courtney Lee...