Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, hours after Monday night’s tough 105-103 loss to LeBron James and the streaking Heat.
“I thought we competed well,” Rivers said. “I thought we had a lot of chances to win the game. For me, and for our players, we’re really disappointed. But I think we would enjoy that matchup [in the playoffs], there’s no doubt about that.”
Rivers said the Celtics’ biggest issues were their failure to continue to push the pace after having early success playing the Heat’s preferred uptempo style, as well as turnovers and defensive miscues.
“We did make some mistakes,” Rivers said. “The turnovers, I though, cost us the game. And then our defensive mistakes — game-planning mistakes that I was frustrated with. We gave up three or four, I’ll maybe even say five or six layups to the basket where we were switching and we shouldn’t have. Those are the things that hurt you.”
The Celtics had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Paul Pierce missed a fadeaway 3-pointer off an inbounds pass.
“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “Listen, he got a good look at it. He maybe could have drove, I don’t know. I don’t question those types of shots at the end of the game. Because he makes those shots. If it goes in, it’s a great shot. If it doesn’t go in, then could we have gotten a better shot? I don’t know.”
Added Rivers: “Paul takes fadeaways. That’s part of his shot. Having said that, the play was really what it was, except for it wasn’t designed for a 3. Jason Terry actually set a terrific pick on LeBron. LeBron actually got tangled up on it — give him credit, he closes so quick it’s amazing. But the play was just for a pin-down from Jason Terry, because I knew they didn’t want to get off his body. And I thought Paul would have an opening. And Paul went out to the 3. He didn’t probably have to. He may have been able to tight curl that. But I don’t second-guess that.”
Jeff Green scored 43 points, but he was not involved in the Celtics’ final offensive play.
“He just had the shot before that,” Rivers explained. “Paul’s a better shot-maker low clock. Jeff Green is great, obviously. But they guarded him. There was a back screen for him on the back side of that. There was more than one option on the play. The guy who takes the ball out decides who he thinks is open.”
On if this game will propel Green to the next level: “I think you will [see him be more consistently good], and I think you’re starting to see it more and more out of him. It is about matchups, though. I felt really good going into that game about Jeff’s matchup at the 4, because I didn’t think they had a 4 that could stay in front him. And I thought Jeff took advantage of that. The key to it is that he took advantage of it and he kept doing it. That’s what you want. He’s not going to have a matchup like that every night. But on the night that he does, we want him to be that aggressive. And that would be great.”
On James’ contributions to the Heat’s offense: “He creates for himself and others. It just felt like every basket they made was a result of LeBron. Most of [Mario] Chalmers‘ shots from 3′s came off LeBron’s passes. It’s not just that he scored the points, but he also had the assists. He created a lot of points for them last night.”
On the C’s defense on James: “I thought Jeff did a great job, Paul did a good job. … Overall, I love the way we defended him. Even the last play. A contest two is what we strive to make people take. LeBron just made one.”
On if Kevin Garnett will return Wednesday night: “I think so. But I haven’t talked to anyone today, so we’ll find that out.”
On Terry attempting to stop James’ dunk: “I love it. I wish he could have taken him down before he got to the dunk. And I said the same thing about Brandon Knight [after he was posterized by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan]. Listen, you should have fun. It was a great dunk, and knock Jason down, or Brandon down. With the new age of Twitter and all that, it’s fun. And I have no problem with people having fun. But just like Brandon took it very well, so did Jason. And they both made the right plays. I hate when I hear people talking about getting out the way because they don’t want to get embarrassed. That bugs the heck out of me. You have to stick your nose in there if you want to be a champion. I thought that was what you should do.”
On the technical foul James received for taunting after the dunk: “I don’t think LeBron did anything that bad. He stood over him for a second. That tech is created so nothing else happens — like Jason gets up and gets irritated, like Scottie Pippen over Patrick Ewing, if you remember. So, those are good technicals to call, because it avoid something escalating.”
On the long delays in the final minutes while the referees checked the replay monitor to verify out-of-bounds calls: “We were on a run, and we just stood there forever. Listen, you want them to get it right, too. … Maybe we need to [have a time limit like the NFL], I don’t know. But I do want them to get it right, all the same. There were a couple of calls in the Chicago game that were huge. Maybe they needed more time. I don’t know. It’s a tough one.”
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