Celtics’ Rivers wants team to Hate the HEAT
By: Matt Pineda
In an interview with Bob Ryan at a Boston community basketball event, Doc Rivers gave a few insights into the mindset he wants his team to have against the HEAT this season. Rivers was asked about the Lakers, who recently acquired Dwight Howard and two-time MVP Steve Nash. Rivers diverted his comments from the Lakers and pointed them towards Miami.
“Honestly, I don’t care about the Lakers,” Rivers said. “My honest thought as a coach right now…I have my eye squarely on Miami. I come up to my players during the year — they’re in the facility now — I bring up Miami every single day to them. I want them to hate them. I want them to beat them. That’s got to be our focus.”
That’s a strong sentiment from a coach. Now, it’s no doubt that you can see the hate brewing from the likes of Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, whom both personally decided to leave the court before the end of the Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to Miami. They neglected to congratulate Miami for their series win and didn’t shake a single hand. You can also taste it with Paul Pierce who just puts off a persona that believes he is better than LeBron James.
Ironically, the one main Boston player who didn’t seem to have a hate or disdain for Miami has now joined them. After five years and a championship with the Celtics, All-Time 3-pt leader Ray Allen will suit up for the HEAT on opening night in Miami against Boston.
But Rivers must be trying to put a new mindset into some of the new guys. He might not have to convince Jason Terry much, who suffered a Finals defeat to the HEAT in 2006, but then got his revenge with Dallas in 2011. But the other players – Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, Courtney Lee, even Jeff Green. Rivers is trying to rally their entire focus on defeating the Miami HEAT. But he knows that won’t be easy.
“We have to get to the foul line because when you get to the foul line — that’s one of the big things now in our league — if you can get to the foul line, you can become a dominant defensive team because you get to set your defense every single time,” Rivers said. “If you keep missing shots against Miami, you’re going to let them run back and forth. I told our guys, ‘I’m smart enough to know that if we get in a track meet with Miami, they’re probably going to win, but if we get into a thinking meet, we will win that game.’
“When we play them, that’s how we have to turn the game. We want them to think. We want them to play under thought, not with their instincts.”
Boston did reload against Miami by adding some perimeter help, having a healthy Jeff Green, and drafting some young big talent, but will it be enough against the HEAT who also added Rashard Lewis and Boston’s own Ray Allen? The Celtics are a legitimate threat to the HEAT, but as we have seen, if Miami can play their game and be healthy, opposing teams have to play nearly a perfect series to beat them.
While Rivers may be focusing on making his team hate Miami, the HEAT are focused on a repeat. They know everyone will be coming after them, as they have seen, a repeat is difficult to do. But the HEAT added some talent and it will be up to them to make it all work.
The Boston Celtics open up the season at Miami on Tuesday, October 30 against the HEAT.