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Doc Rivers: “Philly is Atlanta on steroids-if it’s a track meet that’s bad for us’

05.12.12 at 7:26 pm ET
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Doc Rivers: “Philly is Atlanta on steroids. If it’s a track meet, that’s bad for us.”

There, in a nutshell, is the series plan for the Celtics. Doc Rivers said it on Friday at the team’s practice. He reiterated it Saturday, an hour before Game 1 with the quote above.

Make sure you don’t let one of the most athletic teams in the NBA get their groove on in transition.

There are two things they do extremely well. They defend and they don’t turn the ball over.

“I think what people keep forgetting is they’re not a good defensive team, they’re a great defensive team,” Rivers said. “They’re going to try to make us struggle scoring and we’re going to try and make them struggle scoring. If the game is 50-50, and close and competitive, I don’t know why that’s ugly. I’ve always argued against that. I guess 121-120 is more exciting. I think being competitive is more exciting.”

Many have speculated this will be one ugly series, with both teams clamping down on defense.

“It depends,” Rivers said. “I don’t know what ugly is. If we win, I don’t think that’s ugly at all. So, whatever you want to call ugly, if winning is part of it, I’m all for it.”

When the Sixers beat the Bulls in Game 6 Thursday night, about hour before the Celtics advanced, the cannons went off inside Wells Fargo Center, firing confetti all over the place.

“I was telling our guys, they were excited,” Rivers said. “They should be. They had to get over that hump. Being a No. 8 seed beating a No. 1 seed is big, it is a big deal. We look at the tape, we look at everything. They were excited. We were relieved. It’s amazing the two different [reactions].

“When the clock went off for us, guys were like, ‘Oh my gosh. Let’s go to bed.’ That’s kind of how we felt. You could almost say they have the emotional advantage in that because they were so high for their win. We have to match that.”

So, for the first time since 2002, when the Celtics eliminated the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Celtics and Sixers meet in the playoffs. Remember the last time? Game 5 of the best-of-5 at the Garden, the Celtics ran Allen Iverson and the Sixers off the court by 30 points. Rivers says he can appreciate the history between the two legendary NBA franchises.

“I can,” Rivers acknowledged. “I remember the ones with Dr. J. [Julius Erving]and [Larry Bird] and all that. Anytime you’re around Tommy [Tommy Heinsohn] and you mention Philadelphia, the hatred comes out. I think with Tommy, of all the teams, this is the team he wants to beat the most all the team. Regular season games, when you talk to Tommy on the plane, this is his target team. I’m sure he’ll be nice and calm covering the series.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Dr. J
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