“Just play [the game],” said Rivers. “That doesn’t mean we’ll win — I think we’ll win, I really do, and I think we’ll come in and play terrific — but we just gotta play hard.
“Listen, it’s a big game for them, too. It’s not just one way. I always laugh when I hear guys say it’s a ‘must-win.’ Well, what if it’s a must-win for both teams? Someone’s not going to win. It’ll be great. Our team is looking forward to it. [The Cavaliers] are looking forward to it. It’s no coincidence that LeBron [James] rested two games and came back. That’s not a coincidence.”
I’m not nearly as confident as Doc. I once expected the Celtics to win every game and to perform well every time they stepped on the court. Now, I enter every game only hoping they do. There is a huge difference between expectations and hopes.
So while I’m hoping the Celtics win and play terrific basketball, I am not expecting it at all. I never know what to expect with this team, night in and night out.
Is it going to be Jekyll, or is it going to be Hyde?
Win or lose, Rivers knows his Celtics are looking for more than W’s right now. They’re looking to gain consistency and make winning play the norm.
Asked if dubbing it a “must-play-well” was more appropriate, Rivers still barked at the notion.
“And what if we don’t [play well]? Should we quit and go home?” asked Rivers. “You just show up. And you work on it, and, if you win and play well, great. Here’s my question for you: What if it’s a ‘must-play-well,’ and we play well and win? Should we stop playing then, too?
“It’s a long season, guys, and it’s a game-to-game thing. Today, we had this talk, guys were chattering too much. I reminded them, ‘Guys, we played well for one game. What the hell? It doesn’t matter. You gotta keep doing it. It’s gotta become a habit.’ And I don’t think it’s become a habit for us yet. That’s what is has to become.”
I love that quote: “It’s gotta become a habit.”
Winning has to become a habit. Playing hard has to become a habit. Making the extra pass and rotating defensively, too, have to become habits.
But you know what else does?
Playing well in big games. And today wouldn’t be too bad a day to start.