Doc Rivers Aims to Keep Celtics Focused


Doc Rivers Aims to Keep Celtics Focused If you were paying attention to the first three games of these Eastern Conference finals, you probably expected that come Friday night, you'd have a basketball-free evening to go out and enjoy the outside world.

But a catastrophic series of events has led this series from a 3-0 laugher to a tense must-win Game 6, and now we're left wondering whether the Celtics really have what it takes.

So when exactly do we press the panic button?

The answer is we don't. And the reason for that is the Celtics' coach, Doc Rivers, who has kept his team even-keeled and composed throughout a traumatic week, jam-packed with injuries and run-ins with the officials.

Rivers' one and only focus is keeping his team focused enough to win one game, and he's the right man for that job.

When asked if his team can bounce back from these past two games, Rivers answered quickly and confidently, like a guy who's been here before.

"You do," the coach said. "It's just like they [the Magic] did. We're not going to do anything [Thursday], we're going to just get on the plane, and hopefully everybody gets their rest. We'll show up and be ready at our place. We earned the right to have this game, and we're going to try to take advantage of it."

Rivers has gotten the Celtics to this point, up three games to two with a trip to the NBA Finals not far off, and he's done it when next to no one expected it. He's not about to lose his confidence in his team now.

But, it's important to note, Rivers does acknowledge that Stan Van Gundy's Magic have stolen the momentum in this series.

"They really have," Rivers said. "You know, they stole the game in Boston, which we had a chance to close out and didn't do it. But [Wednesday], they were the better team. They just played better than us tonight. And we make no excuses. I thought we came to play, and I thought the first half was competitive, but it just got away from us.

"All the fouls, and the technicals, and the injuries, I thought we got a little sidetracked. I do think, though, the team that's been the most physical has won the games. I thought it was us for the first three, and I think it's been Orlando for the last two."

Say what you will about Doc Rivers, but I'll say this: He's always been honest. And that's a trait that you look for in the coach of a veteran team, a man leading a group of older players with their own egos and their own agendas. Rivers is a coach who levels with everyone, whether it's the media or his own team. He doesn't hide what he thinks. He gets his point across.

For this team, in this moment, faced with this challenge, Rivers is the right man for the job.

If the shoe were on the other foot, and Van Gundy's Magic had just blown two-thirds of a 3-0 lead, he'd be screaming bloody murder at his team, panicking the lead away.

But not Rivers. He's got his team focused on its one goal.

"Listen," Rivers said. "We need to win one game. Let's hope it's the next one. But if it takes coming back here, we'll be ready for that too."

It's that simple. Doc Rivers knows where his team stands, and he knows that he's still one win away. He's the guy to get them that one win.

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