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.

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

BOSTON – This is not how this is supposed to work.

When the regular season ends for high draft picks, there’s usually a nice, warm island awaiting their arrival in late-April when the regular season ends.

But this was no typical rookie season for Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

And as we have seen, Brown isn’t your typical rookie.

Drafted with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the 6-foot-7 Brown found himself in the rotation on a Celtics team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before having their season end at the hands of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The path towards individual and team success is littered with struggles and potholes of strife along with the pain of disappointment cluttering up things as well.

From within that rubble lies promise; the kind that has Celtics Nation justifiably excited about the future of Brown with the Celtics.

But Brown isn’t about the future, folks.

“I’m excited about the now,” he said. “I’m excited about this summer. I try not to look too far ahead. Everybody talks about the future and how much potential we have; I’m worried about the now. I want to be part of the now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

That kind of focus is among the many reasons that despite being a rookie, his teammates quickly sensed that the now-20-year-old had his sights set on not just talking about cracking the rotation but actually putting in the work that would leave head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to play him.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Boston’s Gerald Green. “If he keeps his same mentality; he’s humble. And continue to work on his game and continue to learn.

Green added, “he couldn’t be in a better place, than being here. With his talent and his work ethic, he’s going to be great.”

But like most rookies, Brown’s play was anything but a steady on-the-rise movement.

His first NBA start came on the road at Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Boston lost the game, but Brown won over many with his career-high 19 points while spending a good deal of the night guarding LeBron James.

In his next four games, Brown scored a total of just 17 points.

And in Boston’s first-round series with Chicago, Brown's role shrunk in the last four games – all Celtics wins. In those games, he played a total of just under 10 minutes.

So what did he do?

He got back in the gym, continued to work on his game and do a better job at making the most of the minutes he received.

More than anything else, Brown attributes his improved play as the season progressed to simply figuring out the NBA landscape as far as what he could do and what he needed to work on, to get better.

Which is why there are many who believe that Brown will be a much better player than the one we saw this season.

That said, he still had decent numbers – 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, coming into the NBA,” Brown said. “Throughout the year, I don’t think people expected me to contribute as much as I did. Now just getting to the Eastern  Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger you know;  I have a bad taste in my mouth. Gotta put in work during the offseason and come back stronger.”

Like Brown, Al Horford came into the NBA as a high draft pick who wound up in the playoffs that rookie season.

Horford can totally relate to Brown’s comments about not knowing what he was getting into.

“The first year you’re really feeling everything out,” Horford said. “Jaylen has an understanding now of what the league is about. It’s a lot for a rookie to handle. Now he has a better idea (so) he can just focus on getting better, working on his game and I expect him to be much better his second year.”

Brown will have the knowledge gained from being part of a team that came within three wins of getting to the NBA Finals.

To come that close is tough to accept, but Brown sees it all as part of a bigger plan for him and his role with the Celtics moving forward.

“I can use it as fuel. I’ve been learning all year,” Brown said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, I’ve had opportunities, I’ve had mistakes. So I’ve been learning and growing and improving all year and I’m going to continue to grow and improve and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong.”

And that process Brown speaks of has certainly been aided by being in a successful situation like Boston compared to some other lottery picks who saw lots of playing time but showed minimal growth playing lots of minutes.

“Being on a winning team and developing good habits, learning how to win, play the game the right way … learning that at a young age is really going to help me,” Brown said. “A lot of young guys, they don’t learn that early. They have to figure it out three, four, five years in. I’m happy I learned it now.”

And while the learning will continue on for Brown during this offseason, it won’t be nearly as tough now than it was when he came into the league.

“I know exactly what I’m preparing for,” Brown said. “I expect a really different result.”

Brown added, “I want to be ready for whatever is thrown at me; no excuses whatsoever.”

Now that’s how this is supposed to work!