Celtics coach Doc Rivers was a guest on the Dennis and Callahan Show this morning on WEEI Radio. Rivers discussed the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, Kobe Bryant, Nate Robinson’s break-out Game 6, and much more.
Click here for the full transcript.
Some highlights of the interview:
I’m going to guess that your players would recoil at the idea of ever being considered underdogs.
We don’t think that way. We don’t care what others think. We believed going into the playoff rounds that we could get here and win it. We thought we needed to be healthy, and we did get healthy. I don’t know how healthy we are now, but we’re getting closer again. That was key for us. We just believe that the 23-5 team was the real team, at the beginning of the season. The 27-27 the rest of the way was due to different circumstances that had nothing to do with basketball. And we believe that as a group.
Though Doc says the Celics don’t think that way or care what others think, I disagree. This Celtics team–like the 2008 champions– plays with a chip on their shoulder when they are the underdogs, or when they feel disrespected.
Just look at the Orlando series. With Orlando the prohibitive favorite before the series began, Boston took the first three games in dominant, statement-making fashion. After taking a 3-0 lead, however, Boston fell asleep at the wheel when the majority of sports fans expected them to take care of business in Game 4, or at least Game 5. Then, when the tide turned once again, and loudmouth sportwriters started comparing the Celtics to the Bruins, expecting a historical collapse, Boston once again made a statement with a dominant Game 6 victory.
Doc on Nate Robinson:
Nate Robinson didn’t play because we needed him in Game 6. Nate Robinson played because he played so well in Game 5, the game that Orlando beat us. It wasn’t the offensive end, it was the defensive end. He was doing all the things that we needed him to do, that we worked with him on. You could see that he had bought in. I remember turning to our bench early on and saying, “Hey, Nate’s going to help us.”
I look forward to seeing more of Nate Robinson in the NBA Finals, and I think he has solidified a spot in the rotation with his Game 6 performance. Like Doc said, his defense was fantastic. Robinson will be able to harass Lakers point guards Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar with his quick feet and in-your-face defense. Both defensively and offensively, Robinson–like any good bench player–provides a change of pace from Rajon Rondo.
On defense, Rondo is more of a gambler, trying to play passing lanes or reach for steals, while Robinson plays chest to chest defense. On offense, Rondo is a premier facillitator, while Robinson is more of a scorer and a much better shooter. Both should have their way with Derek Fisher. Too much quickness for the old man to deal with.
And, one last parting gift from Doc’s interview:
I know the history. I love the history of the game. To be part of it is huge for me, personally. But you feel a responsibility. You don’t want them to beat you. And that’s just the bottom line. Let’s say you were playing Phoenix. You still would want to win the world championship, obviously. But you’re playing the Lakers, and it’s like you’re thinking more about you want to beat them and less about wanting to win the title. And that’s probably good…But I think at the start of this year when we started out hot and they started out hot, I think both teams — I know we did, we thought, “Let’s get back to them.”