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Doc Rivers on D&C: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett will be ‘great when the playoffs start’

02.28.13 at 11:26 am ET

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Stephen Curry‘s performance vs. the Knicks, the big win on Monday against the Jazz and more Celtics news.

The Celtics are on track to make their sixth straight postseason appearance, and Rivers is confident aging veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will be playing well once they get there.

“I think they’ll be great when the playoffs start,” Rivers said. “I think they’ll be better because there’s more rest, and our key is to get them there fresh.

“I thought that it may have had something to do with Danny [Ainge] not making a trade or doing a trade. I just don’t think anything was out there that appealed to him.”

Curry, Golden State’s sharpshooting guard, dropped 54 points against the Knicks on Wednesday night, albeit in a 109-105 Warriors loss. The 54 points are a season-high for the NBA this season.

“That was special to watch,” Rivers said, adding: “Some of the shots he was making were spectacular. ‘€¦ The way he shot the ball and the shots he got — he’s just a great shooter. He’s the best shooter in our league.”

Added Rivers: “When a guy gets in a zone like that, it’s just hard. It’s so easy to say, ‘Deny him,’ but he’s a point guard, so he always has the ball in his hands for the most part. That’s what makes it so difficult. Everyone else who are off the ball, you have a better chance. But a guy with the ball, in that zone, that’s hard.”

The Celtics host the Warriors on Friday night, coming off Monday’s 110-107 victory over the Jazz that wrapped up a five-game road trip and gave the C’s what Rivers called the best win of the year. Rivers credited his team’s defense — especially the denial of the post pass — as the key to the victory.

“Obviously Paul was spectacular in the third and fourth quarter and overtime,” Rivers said. “But I thought that [post denial] was big for us. I thought our zone defense helped us as well because it made them run their zone offense instead of just post the ball. But I thought the pressure on the point guard and their inability to get the ball to the wings to throw the ball to the post was huge.”

The win came three days after the Celtics rested Garnett for the Suns game. “You could tell he really needed it and appreciated it,” Rivers said. The Celtics still managed to win in Phoenix, 113-88.

Said Rivers: “Watching [Garnett] the first two games back after the All-Star break, I was thinking he really didn’t have a break. … I just thought he needed a break. If you really thought about, the Phoenix game would probably have been the game you wanted to play him and the other game you wanted to rest him. But it worked out for us.

“The Portland game was upsetting. I just thought we had so many opportunities to win the game and I thought that was more of a self-inflicted loss. Give Portland credit, they made shots and played terrific, but I thought we could have won that game.”

Rivers also discussed who he thinks is the toughest player on his team, who nobody would want to fight.

“I’m biased, but I’ve always said this: I think it’s a guard or a small forward,” he said. “Maybe Avery [Bradley] would be one. Or Paul even at the small forward spot. I’ve always thought those are the guys. But if I had to pick one on this team, it probably would be Brandon Bass. He’s the right size. I think he’d be tough.”

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at

Read More: Avery Bradley, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
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