With their All-Star point guard sitting out because of a suspension, and Ray Allen still sitting on the sidelines with an ankle injury, the Boston Celtics turned to their captain and he delivered in a big, big way. After struggling mightily in the first game of the series, Paul Pierce rebounded with a masterpiece, scoring 36 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to lead his Celtics to a game two win over the Hawks as Boston ripped home court advantage from Atlanta. Now, as the series shifts back to Beantown at one game apiece, the Celtics will have Rajon Rondo back in uniform and as they try to take yet another step towards pulling the upset against Atlanta.
There were times this season where the Celtics looked like they were too old, too slow and their best basketball was behind them. However, after a strong close to the regular season and two good games against the Hawks in the playoffs so far, the Celtics have shown to be formidable in the East. And with the injury to reigning MVP Derrick Rose seemingly crushing the Bulls hopes, Boston will have a good shot to make one last push at a title before the Big Three part ways. Doc Rivers joined WEEI in Boston to talk about the idea that Boston won the series by taking game two, what he had to say to Paul Pierce to get him to understand the burden would be on his shoulders in game two, what he expects from Rondo in his return, what he told Rondo after the incident where he bumped an official, whether he thinks his decision to rest his guys late in the season is now paying dividends and if he expects Ray Allen to be back for game three.
On the idea that the Celtics won the series by taking game two:
“I’m not going to agree with that but it was a big for us obviously. Coming back home and having a chance but they’re a difficult team. They create so many matchup problems for us athletically. It’s a make or miss league and when they start making shots, in game one Josh Smith made the jump shot, it’s really hard to deal with.”
What he had to say to Paul Pierce to let him know the burden was going to fall on him in game two:
“I don’t always just come out and say it. Paul knew it because we changed about four sets. All four sets were all Paul and in shoot around and our practice we went through our skeleton offense and we went through ten plays and they were all Paul. I didn’t think I had to say a lot. When you do that it’s clear where the ball was going. Whenever I do something like that I think it’s more important that the other four know what the coaches thought is, not Paul. Paul knows anyway. He’s thinking wow this play is for me, that play is for me and this is nice. I just thought it was really important that we worked on all the spacing and everyone else knew it. The great part about Avery (Bradley) is he understands who he is and what he does for our team. He doesn’t really want to handle the ball too much. He knows what he can and can’t do so he embraced it whole heartedly.”
What he expects from Rondo in his return:
“I hope so. I don’t want him to try to do too much and try to force himself on the game. Just let it come to him. I was really happy after game one we basically stated to him we’re going to get your back and that’s what you should say but that doesn’t mean you always do it. It happened. I was really happy. Going onto the bus Rondo was standing outside the bus door waiting for every teammate to shake their hand and say thank you.”
What he said to Rondo after the bumping incident:
“Number one you protect him and number two you talk to him and just try to get him to understand you can’t do it and go talk about it. Players tend not to want to talk when things happen that are bad and I try to always get my guys to do the exact opposite. Go and talk and get it over with. Say you’re sorry and let’s move on. And we’re probably not going to have you the next day.”
On his decision to rest his guys late now paying dividends:
“Yeah but I didn’t do it because I was smart, I did it because I had no choice. It’s funny Rick Sund, the GM of the Hawks, we were talking after the game and we were talking about that and he said ‘you had to do that didn’t you?’ I said ‘yeah, we just came off 11 in 15.’ It was like I had no choice. That’s what I was upset by is that our schedule forced an action and I don’t think that should ever happen but it did. That action cost us maybe, I don’t know if we would’ve won the game or not and we still would’ve had to win that game with our guys, but it cost us home court. Your schedule should never cause an action that a coach has to sit guys and I thought this season it did it a lot to guys. It wasn’t really smart, I had no choice. When you looked at the way that Kevin (Garnett) and Paul were running the last two games I’m thinking injury and I knew we couldn’t have that.”
If Ray Allen will play in game three:
“I’m going to say yes because I’ve said maybe and that hasn’t worked (Laughing). I have no other reason for saying yes. He rode a bike yesterday but it’s frustrating for Ray. He’s doing everything he can. Before the Atlanta game, the day before, he went really hard and looked great and then we found out that was stupid on our part because then the next day he couldn’t walk. It’s a tough one. Right now I do think he wants to play but wanting and doing are two different things and we will find that out Friday.”
Whether he has ever been concussed:
“I was. (Host: Who got you?) (Hakeem) Olajuwon got me once and I will tell you a true story. I got knocked out by Olajuwon and my grandmother who is Jim Brewer’s mother, actually called David Stern and she wanted him deported. I never knew that. Davis Stern told me that years later. She wanted him out of the country.”