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Rivers: Celtics need to trust, play as a team

06.16.10 at 1:32 am ET
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After Kobe Bryant scored 19 points in the third quarter of the Lakers Game 5 loss, the Celtics showed it takes more than just one player to win in the NBA finals.

But on Tuesday night, they C’s looked as if they had forgotten the point they had made just 48 hours earlier.

“I thought we played an individual game tonight, really on both ends,” Doc Rivers said following the Celtics 89-67 loss in Game 6.

Rivers praised the Lakers trust in one another before expressing disappointment in his own team’s. The Celtics, rooted in a we-not-me mentality, failed to share the ball and find the open teammate consistently for 48 minutes. They took contested shots (33% FG) and collectively dished 17 assists, down from their finals average of 20.6.

“We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively because we didn’t trust tonight.  Everybody was trying to make their own plays,” said Rivers. “When we’ve done that this year, we’ve lost games. We’ve been blown out in some of those games, and if you do that against a team like the Lakers and a team like the Lakers who are really ready to play and play desperate, you’re going to lose. And I thought we did that.”

The need for a total team effort is that much greater heading into Game 7 due to the injury of Kendrick Perkins. His status for Thursday night is unclear after leaving the game with a sprained right knee. Without Perkins, the Celtics lose size down low against the towering Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

Rivers will look to the bench, which was outscored in Game 6, to step up. If Perkins is unable to play, either Glen Davis or Rasheed Wallace will get the start. Rivers hopes Davis will bring the same level of energy he exuded in Game 4 — “The famous Shrek and Donkey game,” Rivers dubbed it — and that the rest of the team will follow suit.

“We need that again,” he said, “And we need that from everybody.”

As Rivers preps the Celtics for the deciding Game 7, there is no way of knowing who could suddenly have the hot hand. But what he does know is that the entire lineup, not just one player, will make the difference.

“I’m hoping both teams play great and the best team wins, and I’m hoping that’s us,“ he said. “The effort is going to be great by both teams. It’s really going to come down to the trust. It’s going to come down to the execution. One team will do that and one team will question it at some point in the game. We’ll see.”

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