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Game 5 pregame notes: Doc Rivers says ‘I want to be part of’ making NBA history 05.01.13 at 5:53 pm ET
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Doc Rivers will urge his team to focus possession by possession in Game 5. (AP)

Doc Rivers will urge his team to focus possession by possession in Game 5. (AP)

NEW YORK — Doc Rivers had a prediction of his own Wednesday night, less than an hour before Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. Reminded that the Celtics have erased historic deficits in the past, such as being down 2-0 and 3-1. But neither they nor any NBA team in history has come all the way back from 3-0 down to win an NBA playoff series.

How appropriated would it be for the Celtics to be the first?

“I think so,” Rivers said. “I think that would be wonderful, and someone’s going to do it, and I want it to be us since that’s the situation we’re in. But someone will do it and I really want to be a part of that.”

But that’s where the talk and statement-making ends for Rivers.

Kenyon Martin made good on a prediction that he would have players show up in all black for the Celtics’ funeral Wednesday, all players arrived in black suits and ties. Asked for a reaction to the Knicks showing up in their dressing room all wearing back, Rivers fired back, “So did I.”

The playoffs have always been putting actions before words.

Rivers knows this better than anyone. He knows when teams talk like the Knicks did after Game 4, that’s usually a sign of immaturity and sometimes panic.

So, when asked if he thinks at all about what the series would be like if the Celtics had Rajon Rondo, Rivers used the chance to jab back at the Knicks.

“I don’t think that,” Rivers said of Rondo’s absence and the role in the series. “I don’t use that as a reason. Just like the Knicks probably shouldn’t use that the reason we won was because J.R. Smith didn’t play. But they did.

“That’s what they should do. I hope they expend it all. I don’t really care. We just have to come out ready to play. They’re at home, they’re going to try and feed off their crowd and all that but at the end of the day, it’s going to be between the lines. It’s not going to be what anybody out in the crowd says or does. It’s going to be between the lines.”

Reminded of his one-game-at-a-time mentality heading into another elimination game, Rivers added, “We have no choice. We need to go one possession at a time, really. It’s what you really need to do in the playoffs. To be really great, you need to be one possession at a time.”

More from Rivers shootaround and pregame:

On Jeff Green‘s emergence as a go-to scorer: “I’ve got a feeling they probably went to Durant in Oklahoma City. At Georgetown, he was the guy. He got them to the Final Four. He’s been there before.”

“If he plays well, he will. If he doesn’t, then he’ll do it again next year. If he plays well [next year], then that will be. I don’t try to put too much on any one game or one series. He’s so young, he has a long career. The sooner he gets it going, the better for everybody.”

On whether Green is back to full strength after heart surgery: “I don’t know about this surgery. It’s usually ankles, knees and things like that. I don’t know is the answer. I would say usually in that case but it’s not anything I’m thinking about right now, to be honest. It’s not my concern or thought.”

On what experience in playoffs means: “The playoffs are the best tool of teaching you can use for all the players. Even the veterans learn in the playoffs because you really do understand that every possession matters in a game and not the last possession when you decide to focus on that and then you realize it’s too late.

I think everybody, even the guys who aren’t playing a lot, they see it, they see the intensity that if you want to be great, that you have to play at, consistently.

On Avery Bradley, his struggles and his matchup this series with Raymond Felton: “I think it spills over to the defense at times. You’re human. If you’re not making shots and you’re getting down on that, that takes away energy from you, on both ends. I think overall, he’s fighting through it. I think he’s coming out of it. He made his first shot the other night [in Game 4] and didn’t make another one. But he made his first shot. More importantly, I didn’t think he hesitated on any of the other shots. That’s all we want him to do. For us, he’s our defensive player. The offense will come.”

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Jason Collins’ great stories about Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers at 5:24 pm ET
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A couple great stories from Jason Collinspodcast with Bill Simmons about Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett that might instill some confidence in Celtics fans prior to Game 5 against the Knicks …

What’s your best Kevin Garnett story?

“He could be telling you about the weather, and he’ll break out in a full sweat. His intensity is just non-stop. It’s infectious. It makes you work even harder and makes you want to show up even earlier to practice, because you know that this guy is sacrificing his body. He plays through so much behind the scenes. He puts himself out there emotionally and physically. He’s a pro’s pro.”

Will he retire at the end of this season?

“You’ve got to ask him that. I hope not.”

Could you see him shutting that switch off?

He’s going to be that way until the end of his days. He’ll be going hard in a nursing home, although I don’t think he’ll ever be in a nursing home with the amount of money he’s making. He’ll have the suite.

“His intensity is really inspiring. I think if he ever chooses to be an assistant coach, he’d be great. I don’t know if he ever has that in him. He would be awesome with Charles [Barkley on TV]. They might need a seven-second delay for him. Obviously, he can do whatever he wants.”

Is Doc Rivers the best coach you’ve played for?

“I played for a lot of great coaches, but there’s a special place in my heart for Doc Rivers. Just the way he always talks about the team, and me being a team guy, it just really spoke to my heart. Not only the team, but it’s a family. He had that one saying that just stuck with me: If you want to go quickly, go by yourself. If you want to go farther, you’ve got to go in a group.’ It’s comments like that — that someone like me, a team guy who sacrifices so much — I appreciate his professionalism.

“I hadn’t played in a long stretch of games, and he called me into his office and said, ‘Jason, I want you to know that we see you working hard in the training room, and when you’re opportunity comes, just be ready.’ I’m like, ‘Doc, you don’t even need to have that conversation with me. I appreciate that you show me that professional courtesy, that respect of having that conversation with me, but you don’t have to have that conversation with me, because I’m already there with you.’

“He really is an amazing leader, and KG and Paul [Pierce] can speak better to the kind of person, coach and leader he is.”

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Celtics veterans support Jason Collins 04.30.13 at 4:23 pm ET
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Celtics veterans unanimously supported former teammate Jason Collins‘ decision to come out as the first openly gay player in major American sports in an autobiographical Sports Illustrated piece.

Collins told C’s coach Doc Rivers a few days ago and phoned Celtics captain Paul Pierce before the news broke on Monday morning. Rivers, Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and Jason Terry all expressed genuine happiness for Collins, and their words must reinforce the erstwhile Celtics center’s decision to come forward.

Here are the Celtics speaking about Collins in their own words:

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Tuesday practice notes: Doc Rivers treats Game 5 like another Game 7, at 2:19 pm ET
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Doc Rivers asking his team to take another Game 7 approach Wednesday. (AP)

Doc Rivers asking his team to take another Game 7 approach Wednesday. (AP)

WALTHAM — It’s a theme that began last weekend after the Game 3 loss to the Knicks. Every game the rest of the series is like Game 7. It worked in Game 4 as the Celtics won, 97-90, in overtime but the Knicks still lead the series, 3-1.

“Like I told them, what’s the difference between being down 0-3 and being in a Game 7?” Doc Rivers asked rhetorically. “It’s no different. It’s an elimination game. The difference is your mindset. In a Game 7 you’re thinking, ‘Let’s win it to win it.’ When you’re down 0-3, you never know. You may have a couple guys making vacation plans, thinking you can’t do it. It’s all about the mindset. And that’s what I told our guys before the game the other night and that will be the message still. Each game you win, it is a Game 7. If you advance, you just advance to another game instead of to the next round. That’s got to be our mindset.”

Rivers knows veterans like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry fully understand that message. The hope is that it’s filters to players like Avery Bradley and Jeff Green Wednesday night in New York.

“You know, Game 7s are all out,” Garnett said before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just what they are. They’re your last opportunity to survive and your mentality can’t be anything different. We have no pressure at this point. It should be an all-out mentality and you should play with a free mind and an aggressive mind and take this thing one game at a time and see what happens. Other than that, we put [ourselves] in this position, and we can’t [complain] about too much.”

Did Sunday’s Game 4 OT win instill more confidence in the group as they hit the road?

“Don’t know,” Rivers answered. “I’m hoping that we had confidence to begin with, but I honestly don’t know. I think we are really looking forward to the next game.”

What was clear to Rivers and his coaching staff from watching film is that another 18 turnovers Wednesday in New York like they had on Sunday will end the season. Aside from turning the ball over, the Celtics need to repeat their offensive flow of the first half, when they shot 50 percent and built a 19-point halftime lead.

“Well, we have to repeat it,” Rivers said. “It’s clear when we play a certain way, and that’s in an attack mode, not settling offensively, moving the ball, getting in transition, we’re hard to stop. It’s also clear when we get into the half-court and slow the ball down we’re not that hard to stop and that’s obvious.”

Other nuggets from Tuesday practice from Doc Rivers:

Second chance points. Frustrating for KG? “That’s frustrating for him. And some of them were switches where we switch and Chandler is underneath with a guard. We got called for two face guard block outs, which is legal. And I think we have to explain that honestly to our official, because it doesn’t look legal and I agree with them in that, but it actually is a legal position. We’re telling our guards instead of backing up, turn around and face guard them and block them out that way. Your’e not going to get the ball, but they’re not going to either. So that’s something we’re trying to do. but their guards got a lot of rebounds too. Shumpert hurt us on the glass. Jason Kidd hurt us on the glass too. So we can’t give up the extra shots with the turnovers and the offensive rebounds and expect to win tomorrow on the road. We just can’t do that. So we have to definitely fix the turnovers first and then the rebounds second.

On admiring KG for hard work it takes to get ready? “No, people have no idea what he goes through, and you can’t unfortunately. But it really is watching him just in there now doing all the stuff that they’re doing, the stretching. He just plays because he loves it, and it’s will. A lot of guys would just not play anymore. The fact that he does and to the level that he does it, I mean he’s a rebounding machine for us right now, and we need it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics coach Doc Rivers ‘proud of’ Jason Collins 04.29.13 at 2:09 pm ET
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Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Celtics coach Doc Rivers issued this statement after former C’s center Jason Collins became the first openly gay active player in major American sports:

“I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite ‘team’ players I have ever coached. If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘I am who I am, are whom we are, can be what I want to be. It’s not up to you, it’s just me being me.’”

Outing himself in this Sports Illustrated article, Collins quoted Rivers: “If you want to go quickly, go by yourself — if you want to go farther, go in a group.”

As recently as three weeks ago, Rivers discussed the inevitability of an openly gay NBA player. “There’ll be a lot of talk about it, and then I think it will go away,” Rivers said before a Celtics practice on April 9, the day after he took the team to watch the “42″ film about Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.

SI’s Ian Thomsen caught up with Rivers after Collins’ announcement on Monday.

“He is terrific,” Rivers told Thomsen. “Losing him was hard for me because I just thought he was such a great teammate and such a great guy in the locker room. That’s what you want is those guys in your locker room.”

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Adrian Wojnarowski on D&C: ‘No easy path back’ to contention for Celtics at 9:04 am ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski

Adrian Wojnarowski

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and the NBA playoffs.

The league’s two most successful franchises, the Celtics and Lakers, have become also-rans, and the future is not promising for either team.

“There’s no question there’s been a changing of the guard in the league,” Wojnarowski said. “You look at both teams, the Lakers and Boston, it’s going to be a while before either is in contention again. It’s hard to rebuild in this league, and it doesn’t happen quickly unless you draft LeBron [James] or Kevin Durant. It’s going to take a while, and I think both organizations have to face that reality, because we aren’t going to see these two in the finals again in the foreseeable future, that’s for sure.”

Wojnarowski said the the Celtics have a better front office than the Lakers and a more appealing coach in Doc Rivers, but the Lakers are more likely to return to prominence first because of the appeal of Los Angeles.

“If the Lakers have cap space, they’re always a team that’s going to attract the best player on the market,” Wojnarowski said. “I think Boston, as long as Doc is there and Doc is coaching, I think Boston is very attractive to players, more so to the elite players. But even then, Chris Paul didn’t want to come when they talked deals. It’s not LA.”

Wojnarowski said he thinks the Celtics will attempt to rebuild around Rajon Rondo, but they need some fortuitous moves to get out of the middle.

“That’s the worst place to be in the NBA — stuck in the middle,” Wojnarowski said. “You want to be really good or really bad. That’s the fear is you don’t want to get stuck in that middle place, because you can’t get out of it. You become Milwaukee, fighting for the eighth seed. You don’t want that.

“But I do think, though, the emergence of Jeff Green this year, you’ve seen that they can lean on him to do more and be a different kind of player. Listen, a year ago you didn’t know what his career was going to look like, with the heart ailment. And then this year you saw him become a much more explosive and reliable player. I think that’s a bonus for them. You look back at the Kendrick Perkins deal, and certainly it looks a lot better in hindsight than it did to people initially. But there’s no easy path back for them.”

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Doc Rivers on Jason Terry: ‘He brings sunshine’ 04.28.13 at 6:24 pm ET
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Doc Rivers knew Jason Terry was fired up and still ticked off from the J.R. Smith elbow on Friday night late in Game 3.

That fire and determination paid huge dividends on Sunday in a 97-90 overtime, season-saving win at TD Garden. Terry drained the go-ahead three with 1:32 left in overtime, as he scored the final nine points of Game 4.

Was it the elbow that Smith threw that got him fired up?

“He was definitely vocal,” Rivers said. “Someone said it [Saturday]; maybe that elbow – who knows? [Terry] said it changed the events for all of us. Definitely Jason Terry was angry that it happened. He let his teammates know yesterday and today. But he’s just a fighter. I’ve told you that before. You know, I didn’t know him until this year and I said it the other day: he’s just one of those guys you want around your team, whether he’s playing or not. He brings sunshine. There’s guys – I would say probably most of you guys, you bring those dark clouds every time I see you – a couple of you don’t. But the sunshine-bringers, that’s who you want. And Jason Terry is one of those guys.”

Terry scored 18 points in 41 minutes off the Boston bench, both playoff highs so far.

“He was great,” Rivers said. “You know, that’s what he does. He’s made so many big shots in his career; you knew in transition…It’s amazing, you know, you guys don’t get to see it but when you watch all the guys, and not just Jason Terry, but when you watch them practice on the floor on their own, they work on certain shots. And that’s the shot, that transition three is something he works on all the time. And you knew once he got it what he was going to do. I thought it was interesting when you watch the play, I thought Jason Kidd knew it too. Because you could see him coming from the basket, from them playing with each other. So it was a big shot. And the other shot he made was big as well. So, that’s what he does. That’s good.”

Rivers said the go-ahead three wasn’t the only huge shot Terry made in his 9-0 run.

“Yeah, yeah, but the five were big,” Rivers said. “The three, and the two off the pick, those were huge. I’ll take all of them, but the five, they were huge.”

Here is the rest of Doc Rivers’ postgame press conference from Sunday.
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