OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Several names come to mind when you talk about the MVP of the Golden State Warriors this season, but it’s a good bet that Rick Celebrini isn’t one of them.
Celebrini is the team’s medical director and has been given high praise from the players and head coach Steve Kerr for helping the team maneuver through a season filled with physical challenges.
It was Celebrini and his team who got DeMarcus Cousins rehabbed and back in the lineup when it appeared a torn quadriceps suffered in the first round of the playoffs had ended his season.
Cousins played nearly 28 minutes in Golden State’s NBA Finals Game 2 win Sunday, scoring 11 points, pulling down 10 rebounds, dishing off six assists and blocking two shots.
That would be enough, but the Warriors medical team is also continuing to treat Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala’s ailing calfs and now Klay Thompson’s hamstring and Kevon Looney’s injured collarbone.
To say Golden State resembles a MASH unit would be an understatement.
“Rick and his staff have done an amazing job,” Kerr said during the early rounds of the playoffs. “They are really, really top notch. We have had a lot challenges this year, not only with injuries but with the run that we’ve been on this being year five. Of these long, long playoff runs. Trying to rest guys. Trying to manage them. He has been a huge key for us in this process.”
Celebrini’s team used high tech monitoring during the regular season to track the miles Steph Curry and Thompson ran each game. They got other vital data on other players to make sure they were given enough rest so they could be at a peak performance level in the playoffs.
“He’s brilliant, first off,” said Draymond Green. “A very smart guy. He’s been very valuable to what we have done this year. He’s brought a lot of new things in – recovery between games, getting on those things right after the game. The strength and conditioning program that they have brought. More functional things that they have added to our daily routine.”
“The work he’s done to get guys healthy and back on the floor,” he added. “Rick is great.”
Green’s a prime example. Early in the season, he struggled with a nagging knee injury and gained some extra weight. Gradually, the knee recovered and then Celebrini’s team helped Green with his diet. He dropped about 25 pounds — a weight loss that has had a major impact on his overall play.
In Game 2’s win, Green scored 17 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, had nine assists and two steals.
“The thing I like most about him is he’s a guy who doesn’t think he has all the answers,” Green said. “He relies on his team a lot — He’a put a great team together….They lean on each other. That’s what’s special he doesn’t walk into the room thinking he knows more than everybody. We’ll go in there and tell him about something and you’ll see him talking back and forth with the rest of the guys, getting their opinion, seeing what they think. Then they collectively come up with a plan. It’s special.”