MIAMI -- The Celtics were beaten soundly by the Heat in Game 5 on Wednesday night, 97-87, but Doc Rivers still loves the core of his team and believes it can win. He loves it so much, he's already leaning toward returning as the Celtics' coach next season.
"I'm leaning heavily toward coming back," said Rivers in his postgame press conference. "I haven't made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will. I've kind of come to that over the last couple of weeks. I'm a Celtic, and I love our guys.
"I want to win again here. I do. I'm competitive as hell, I have a competitive group. And so well see. But I can tell you that's where I'm at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind, but that's where I'm at today."
Though injuries plagued the Celtics down the stretch, and though many believe this season was the Big Three's last legitimate shot at a title, Rivers said he thought otherwise.
"These guys aren't done," he said. "We need to add some pieces, but I love those guys in the locker room."
With green ink visible on his fingers, Rivers elaborated on his future and got emotional.
"I love our guys. I love 'em. I love the people I work for. It's tough . . . We'll see. That's we're I'm at for sure. Thanks, guys," said Rivers.
As tears welled up in his eyes, the Celtics' coach left the room.
Paul Pierce said Rivers' presence with the team would be vital if the Celtics were to make another run at a championship.
"Doc is very important in my opinion," Pierce said. "It's huge if we're trying to move forward, trying to be back next year and win a championship, he's one of the main pieces coming back."
Rajon Rondo joked with reporters that he saw Rivers sign a contract soon after the game ensuring Rivers would be back in Boston next season. Rondo laughed, but he seriously did not want to picture his playing career without Rivers as his coach.
"I don't even want to imagine," Rondo said. "I really want him to come back. Hopefully he can."