The Boston Celtics have been marked for years by a playing style drenched in hatred, by elbows that strike opponents and four-letter words postmarked with animosity. In an era of friendships between opponents, the Celtics are competitive and mean. If they have friends wearing opposing colors, they do not show any love for them during the 48 minutes while scoreboard operators track made baskets.
Doc Rivers does not want the Celtics to remove their hatred or play with less of a competitive streak. Rather, he fuels their ice-cold mentality, especially with regards to the Miami Heat.
“I don’t care about the Lakers. When that trade first went down, my first thought was if we play the Lakers in the Finals, all’s good. I’d love that opportunity,” Rivers said recently during an interview with Bob Ryan. “My honest thought as a coach right now: I have my eye squarely on Miami. I come up to my players during the year — they’re in the facility now — I bring up Miami every single day to them. I want them to hate them. I want them to beat them. That has to be our focus.”
We tend to give Kevin Garnett a lot of credit for infusing the Celtics with his “beat them or mortally wound ourselves while trying to” mentality, but the Celtics are built in Rivers’ mold as much as Garnett’s.
(h/t Celtics Blog)