I can picture Doc Rivers inside the visiting locker room at the Amway Center, looking around at his subjects and urging them not to fold. I envision Kevin Garnett, sitting in a corner of the room, sweat pouring down his face, eyes staring at the carpet like a 12-foot caterpillar was crawling across it, head bobbing in agreement. In my mind’s eye, Paul Pierce stood in front of his locker, hands at his hips, flames bouncing in his eyes, waiting for Rivers to finish his speech so Pierce could do his best Knute Rockne impression before the Celtics raised their hands as one in the middle of the locker room.
My vision involves E’Twaun Moore sitting on a chair in front of his locker, gazing directly at Rivers, not really listening to the coach’s words but imagining the snap of the net that he hadn’t witnessed — at least after his own shots — for so long. And Brandon Bass sat there, a minuscule part of him wondering “what if I hadn’t been traded from Orlando?”, and the rest of his body, heart and mind telling him he was lucky to be with the Boston Celtics, where a 27-point deficit in the second quarter only meant his teammates were ready to apply their brass knuckles. (Boston Herald)
“It’s just our spirit, where we remain positive,” said Pierce. “On losing teams, when you lose games and things don’t go your way, then there’s finger-pointing. But you don’t have that in this locker room. The veteran leadership in this locker room won’t allow that.
“It should give us tremendous confidence, especially with guys hurt — key guys hurt,” said Pierce. “We didn’t have Jermaine to guard Dwight (Howard), we’re without our All-Star point guard, our All-Star 2-guard. Everything was in the making for us to lay down and get ready for tomorrow, but there’s something about this locker room where the light has switched on.”
The light has switched on, and last night it was a sun that burned brightly, painting shadows that swallowed the Orlando Magic and left them incapable of running offensive sets. The heat from the Celtics’ burning ball of gas enveloped the Amway Center and tore it down to ashes, leaving Jason Richardson to worry about whether the past two games against Boston have single handedly given Orlando a soft reputation.
“That was a character builder for our team,” said Rivers. “It really was. It’s all we talked about at halftime — not a big game plan thing. We didn’t make any changes. We just kept talking about it being a character builder for the basketball team. Let’s get back in it. Let’s hang in there long enough to give yourself a chance to win.”
Three starters down, two of them All-Stars, on the road, facing a 27-point deficit. Boston entered halftime with a chip and a chair, a hope and a prayer, and a group of players that still — after all the painful losses this season, all the half-assed nights when winning teams rolled them over — believed. (Orlando Sentinel)
“What the Celtics did was they stuck with the game plan,” Howard said. “Not once did they fight or get mad at each other. They just kept playing. They stayed together, and that’s how they won the game.”
That formula sounds eerily familiar, no?