The Miami Heat have gotten all the headlines this offseason and rightfully so. Any time you team up three of the top-15 players in the NBA, you’re going to create a shockwave. However, the team that wears the Eastern Conference crown heading into this season is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics were the team that bounced LeBron James and his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, from the playoffs last year. Also it was the Celtics that took the Lakers to a game seven before losing in the NBA Finals without their starting center. While they were doing that, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James were all on vacation. So while many people are drooling over “Miami Thrice,” you can be sure that the Celtics will have a lot to say about who is still playing in June and who is watching the NBA Finals from home.
Doc Rivers joined ESPN 980 in Washington D.C.with John Thompson and Doc Walker to talk about The Lakers counting championships from another city, LeBron’s decision to go to Miami, what will be the biggest issue facing the Heat this season, the addition of Shaquille O’Neal in the offseason, what makes Rajon Rondo so good for the Celtics, and sends a message to Lakers fan Doc Walker.
On LeBron’s decision to go to Miami:
“Number one I will say this; he had every right to do that. The rules say you can be a free agent and the rules say you can go anywhere you want to. Now how he did it and all that, whatever. I don’t really care about that. If you were a business man and you owned a business and you could buy two other businesses and try to create a monopoly, you would do it. That’s what LeBron just did so I have no problem with that. Will it work? Eventually it will work. Will it work right away? I coach the Boston Celtics so I hope not. I do think people are all focusing on the wrong thing. I think everybody is talking about shots. Is there enough shots, will they have enough shots, will they be able to play together, whose going to take the last shot and that could cause turmoil, but I think the key for them is will they defend? Because if they defend and get stops, they’re talented enough offensively to get points. The key for them is will they buy into being a defensive unit.”
On Shaq’s addition:
“He won’t change our style because we want to run. We have a saying, let’s try to score in the first six seconds and if not you try to execute the heck out of them. We’re gonna try and run, get easy baskets, and then wait for Shaq to come down the floor. My biggest concern honestly coach is defensively because every time Shaq comes on the floor, everyone is going to run pick and roll and no one has been successful in figuring out how to use him and I’m no smarter than anyone else. That’s all we’ve been focusing on this summer is trying to figure out what we’re going to do in pick and rolls when he comes into the game.”
On the idea that the team might’ve been blown up:
“You really blow it up. You can never take it for granted. The year we got the team together, everyone said ‘well this year will be your building year and the following year you will win it.’ I told our players; I said guys if we have a chance to win it this year, we gotta seize the moment this year and then next year happens and that’s what happened.”
On what makes Rajon Rondo so good for the Celtics:
“First of all, he’s a stubborn kid and it was good for him. If you play with Kevin Garnett and Paul (Pierce) and Ray (Allen), you better be stubborn because every play they’re open. I tell Rondo the most important year in your vocabulary will be no. To say no because you got the ball and they will listen. The other thing about Rondo is he’s the smartest player that I’ve ever coached. His basketball IQ is off the charts. Now it gets him in trouble at times, but he has great feel, he has huge hands, he can rebound, and the thing that I’m most impressed with is he’s doing this without a jump shot. You think about how dominant he has been. It’s always been said that you cannot win in the NBA with a non-shooting point guard. We’re winning with a non-shooting point guard and we’re winning because of his IQ.”
On his message to Lakers fan Doc Walker:
“Number one you gotta congratulate them because they won. They still have not beaten our starting five. Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring. Tell him don’t forget that. We will be back strong and Perk (Kendrick Perkins) will be there next year if there’s a game seven.”