Rivers does not sneak comments into media interviews to try to motivate his players, though. His mini-rant after the game in Chicago on Thursday, when he said the Celtics played too "cool," was not meant to light a fire under the players, the coach said Sunday.
"I don't think they responded to my words," Rivers said before his team went out and handled Philadelphia 103-79 to take a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division. "I didn't use it that way. If that happened, then great. We just went back to being who we've been all year, really."
The Celtics had their old edge in the last two games, both wins, and were active offensively and defensively in ways they were not against the Bulls. Whereas one somewhat famous Celtics coach used to tweak or brush the egos of his players through the press, Rivers is no Red Auerbach in that regard.
With a self-motivated group like the current Celtics, Rivers does not need to be, according to captain Paul Pierce.
"I think that's just Doc blowing off steam," Pierce said. "You've got a room full of veterans. You don't need any motivation. He was frustrated, but we all were frustrated. Of course we're frustrated losing a game we felt like was a very winnable game. As veterans, we know how to respond and we know when to take our game to another level.
"You felt the frustration from our coaches, but we felt it from ourselves. Even if Doc didn't come out and express it, I think we would've come out and played the way we played the last couple of nights."
So everybody was frustrated. The coach, who can't play, vented. The players, who can play, took their frustration out on the Pacers and Sixers. That message was sent loud and clear.