On Saturday, before guiding a makeshift lineup devoid of two future Hall of Famers (and another who one day may make that claim) to a 103-96 win over Toronto, Rivers offered up a new mantra, one which had less to do with unity than it did with just trying to survive.
"Break the glass, pull out the hatchet, go to work," Rivers said when asked how to approach a scenario which sees him searching for healthy bodies.
Clean break. Sharp hatchet. Solid work.
The Celts — playing without Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett — had a patchwork crew take the lead for good early in the second quarter, go up by as many as 12 points in the second half and snap a three-game losing streak to a Raptors team which had won five straight.
Boston won several of the "hustle" categories and likely left with a few more floor burns than Toronto, which was outrebounded by eight and managed just three fast break points.
It was a simple shift in philosophy that allowed the Celts to once again become the aggressor, days after a notably unaggressive effort in Phoenix.
"We're at home, going out on a road trip, and we have to come into the game with the attitude you expect to win," Rivers said. "I didn't think we had that attitude in Phoenix…We showed up and said, 'what's going to happen?'
"I thought tonight we showed up with an attitude that we're going to find a way to win."
J.R. Giddens made his first career start. He, Eddie House, Glen Davis and Lester Hudson each had their season high in minutes played, combining for 34 points. And Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace amassed 30 points and 11 assists in the best of their limited starts this season.
Allen said it began Friday at the gym.
"It started from practice. We had a lot of dummy offense, a lot of hard sets we had to run without defense, and we had to defend them as well," Allen said. "Everybody knew we were going to be short-handed and we went hard in practice and it carried over to today."
Many of the sets worked on at practice led to interior hoops, including memorable dunks by both Allen and Wallace. The C's held a 48-30 advantage in points in the paint and got to the line 31 times.
It was truly a back-to-the-basics approach.
When Wallace was asked about a spin move that led to his dunk, he downplayed it, saying "It's just basic basketball." When Allen was asked about running point in Rondo's absence, he said just feels "like a basketball player."
Raptors coach Jay Triano simply said when asked about the Celtics physicality, "We have to learn to play like they did."
To have an opposing coach say that about a Boston team missing Rondo, Pierce and Garnett has to make Rivers smile. Perhaps he can even pin it up on the poster board in case he needs any other motivating mantras.