When Doc Rivers coached in Boston, he said he never talked to the Celtics about winning their division. There were far more important goals.
Now Rivers could have a say in whether divisions themselves are important.
With every team in the Atlantic Division below .500, deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a radio interview last week he expected the league’s competition committee to discuss whether it’s worth having them.
Rivers is on the committee, and doesn’t sound eager to see them go.
“I don’t think they should,” he said. “I think it would be hard to do.”
Winners of the three divisions in each conference are guaranteed a top-four seed in the playoffs. That means the champion of a bad division is not only guaranteed a spot, but possibly a more favorable opponent than a better team.
Returning to the pre-2004 format of two divisions in each conference would help — nobody would be complaining about the Atlantic leader if Miami was still in it — but that would be difficult because they would be unbalanced with 15 teams in each conference.
So perhaps this is like issues such as resting healthy players or intentional fouls away from the ball, where the committee discusses it but eventually declines to recommend changes.
That sounds fine by Rivers.
“Obviously, this year you look at it and you say, ‘Wow, it would be nice to have the top 16 teams, or whatever it is,’” said Rivers, now coaching the Los Angeles Clippers.
“This has been going on for a while, but at the end of the day I think it’s fine the way it is right now.”
The next meeting of the nine-member committee, comprised of coaches, general managers and owners, hasn’t been scheduled.
Here are a few things to watch this week, including Rivers’ team heading home:
They meet again
The Pacers and Heat meet for the second time this month, this time in Miami for the first time since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Routed that night, the Pacers took the first matchup since with their 90-84 home victory last Tuesday.
Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are still around, but the NBA’s most productive power forwards right now are Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge, who go head-to-head for the first time this season when Minnesota hosts Portland on Wednesday.
Players who signed free agent contracts in the summer became eligible to be traded Sunday, and some will surely hear their names in trade talks between now and the Feb. 20 deadline.
Finally back home from a grueling, seven-game road trip that took them more than 6,000 miles, the Clippers play four tough home games in seven nights, starting with San Antonio on Monday before visits from New Orleans, Denver and Minnesota.
Hype it up
With under 10 days until Christmas, expect to see plenty of commercials in the coming days hyping the NBA’s marquee five-game holiday schedule.
Stat line of the week
With 31 points and a career-high 25 rebounds in Thursday’s 111-104 victory over Houston, LaMarcus Aldridge had the first 30-25 game in Trail Blazers history and made a loud statement in the MVP race.