Highlights from Rivers' emotional press conference

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Highlights from Rivers' emotional press conference

Following the Celtics' Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, the players were emotional as they discussed the end of their season and what could have been the end of the Big Three era.

At the podium, it was their head coach who delivered one of the most passionate addresses of them all.

Here are the highlights from Doc Rivers' press conference while he discussed the 2011-12 Celtics season and the group that fell one win shy of an NBA Finals berth.

On Game 7: I was really proud of our guys, especially early on. You could just see they had the fight in them. They were going to play the right way. But overall, I don't know if I've ever had a group like this. I had a group in Orlando that I am fond of, that I talk about, the heart and hustle group. They're very similar to that group. They did everything I asked them to do. They came up short. But, again, on our guys, I love them. They were phenomenal.

On maximizing the team: I'm so competitive. I really wanted to win this game. Really, nothing to do with me. When you think about this group, no Jeff Green to start the season and no Chris Wilcox, no Avery Bradley, JO (Jermaine ONeal). If we could have got this group to the Finals, it would have been fantastic for us. That's all I thought about today -- somehow, let's see if we can get this group in the Finals. They deserve it with their will. I hear people at times talk about the NBA as an individual league. I think that theory is gone. This is a team. We had a terrific team effort by everybody.

On development of Rajon Rondo: One of the things I told our guys, I don't ever look at individual stuff. I think you know me by now. I told my guys that before the game. One of the things I love about being a Celtic is that we have 17 banners, that's it, on the wall. We don't have the 30 division championships or the 21 conference championships, and we don't really celebrate the individual stuff. Everybody buys into team around here. Rondo, Paul (Pierce), Kevin (Garnett), I think they sacrifice their individual games so much to try to help the team win. And so for me, that's where I'm the most proud of Rondo. I thought he was phenomenal in that regard. I thought he was our leader on the floor. I thought he did so many things where he had to give of himself for the team, for the better of the team. He had to cut a lot without the ball. He just did so many things and for a coach, I think that's where I'm the most proud of him.
On legacy of the Big Three: I wish we could have had healthy runs. This team won a title, got to another one, a Game 7, where they had a shot to win. Got to the Eastern Conference Finals and one game away on the road, banged up. So I dont know, because of really Kevin's injury, I don't know if we could have gotten any more out of the group. I would have loved to have seen this team in this whole stretch where Kevin was injury-free, but you don't get do-overs. Everybody has injuries, not just us. Chicago, Thibs (Tom Thibodeau) is sitting at home right now thinking, no (Derrick) Rose. It's part of the luck of it. But great group, great team group. I know everybody will look at the Big Three individually -- Kevin, Ray, and Paul. I'm never going to look at them individually. I'm going to look at them as a group collective. They all gave up plus-seven shots each. They gave up minutes. I asked them to play defense and move the ball, and they all did it, and they're willing to do it for the better of the team. So I think that's what we should focus on, how much they gave up to try to win. That's what I'll remember most about them.

On potential end of the Big Three era: Obviously we're all smart, at least you guys are. I think we're going to wait and see what happens with free agency and all that stuff. I honest to gosh hadn't thought much about it, other than the draft, because I was in it. Other than that, I've given zero thought to the whole thing. Danny (Ainge) has talked to me a couple of times recently. I probably didn't hear much. We'll find that out later. I just want to stick with this group, if it's a couple more days, a couple more weeks, or whatever. I just want to stick with them.

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

Celtics-Raptors preview: Ibaka is 'capable of changing the game'

TORONTO – The decision to stand pat at the trade deadline for the Boston Celtics was made in part because they felt that as their roster is constructed, they can hold their own with anybody.

We’re going to find out just how true that is tonight as they face a revamped Toronto Raptors team that added a couple of notable players via trade, chief among them being Serge Ibaka from Orlando.

“That was a really good trade for them,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Bringing in a guy like Serge Ibaka; a defender, a four-man that can switch out on guards. A guy that can space the floor, shoot the 3.  So that was a good addition. I’m excited to see how that’s gonna work other than tomorrow.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was also impressed with the Ibaka trade.

“That’s an improvement; there’s no question about it,” Stevens said. “Now you can play a number of different ways. He’s a really good player; he’s very agile. He’s a very good shooter. You can play him or (Patrick) Patterson at the four (power forward) the entire game now. You can play them together as a small-ball four and five (center). It gives them a lot of options on offense and defense.”

While praise for Ibaka is nothing new, you have to remember there were reasons as to why the Magic decided to give up on him so quickly, something even more hard to understand considering the assets they gave up (Victor Olidipo and a 2016 first-round pick used to select Domantas Sabonis, among others) to acquire him.

The Magic decided that they would not be in the running to re-sign Ibaka when he hits the free agent market this summer; this coming after the Thunder traded him primarily because they did not plan on giving him the near-max contract he’ll be seeking. So rather than play out this season and lose him for nothing, the Magic decided to trade him while they still could get something (Terrence Ross) in return.

While in Orlando, Ibaka averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. For his career (all prior to this season spent in Oklahoma City), he’s averaging 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

But he never seemed to provide the kind of impactful, difference-making play that Orlando was seeking.

And while the Celtics speak highly of Ibaka, he hasn’t been much of a problem for the Celtics this season.

In two games against Boston, Ibaka has averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Jae Crowder believes the struggles Ibaka has endured against the Celtics, are not a clear reflection of what he’s capable of doing as a player.

“For sure it makes them better,” said Crowder in describing the Raptors with Ibaka. “He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and rebound at a high rate. We know what he brings to the table.”

And those struggles we saw of him with the Magic?

“I think it was him more so than us,” Crowder said. “I give him credit because he wasn’t playing with the energy and passion he usually brings. I’ve been able to line up against him a quite a few times.  He didn’t have that passion like he did when he was in O-K-C (Oklahoma City). Maybe he’ll have it now. I know exactly what he’s capable of doing; he’s capable of changing the game with his play.”