Rivers, Celtics focused on playing team ball

Rivers, Celtics focused on playing team ball
April 27, 2013, 3:15 pm
Share This Post
(USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM -- Amid the Boston Celtics struggles against the New York Knicks in their first round playoff series, Doc Rivers has his own set of challenges as head coach of a team facing elimination.

On Sunday Rivers will be tasked with keeping the Celtics focused to play within the system and not try to save the season with hero ball. He has plenty of passionate players who want to do everything they can to save the season, but what he really needs each individual to play team basketball.

"If you don't (play team ball) we're going to lose, that's pretty simple," Rivers said prior to practice on Saturday. "Now, whether I'm successful at it is a different ball game. But it is really important. That may be the challenge for me tomorrow more than anything because we do have the Jason Terry's on our team that want to win so bad, that they may go into a game, 'We're going to win this game tomorrow!' and yeah, but it better be 'We are going to win this game.' And that's important, but it's hard."

While this series may look like it has been one of the most challenging for Rivers given the 0-3 deficit, he says the longer series are more difficult as a coach. And he has been in plenty of those over the years, including in 2008 when the Celtics won it all.

"That banner year, that was challenging. That was really challenging," he said. "Every year we have a Game 7, that's challenging. Right now we're in Game 4. I don't know if it's been a challenging playoffs yet. I would like it to be more challenging, may be a better way."

For Rivers, one challenge he is facing this series is the uncertainty of the season. In his ideal scenario, he would be coaching right up until the final possible game of the playoffs. That way he would know when his season would be coming to an end. This time, it's up in the air.

"I dread the end (of a season) all the time, I always do," Rivers said. "I just like to be able to know when the end is, meaning you're in Game 7 in the World Championship. Then you know you're playing for the end. I hate when the end can come early. But I dread them all. I know as a coach, maybe as a player too, I don't know when a season has ended and I was not lost for a week or two because I thought we'd still be playing if it ends early. That's how I'm built -- that's how you should be built as a player and a coach."

Rivers will take the rest of this series one game at a time, looking to piece together a postseason comeback step by step with a total team effort.

"You've got to focus on a single game," he said simply. "You can't win four without winning one."