Doc Rivers' Boston Celtics lasted just five playoff games against the Miami Heat, who now hold a 1-0 edge in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, but the Celtics coach still thinks Miami can be beaten. In an interview with ESPN Radio New York host Mike Lupica, Rivers discussed the Celtics' rivals to the south.
Miami is "as tough of a team to score on than we have seen in a long time," Rivers said, comparing its defense to that of Michael Jordan's legendary Chicago Bulls teams, which also featured Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. He credited LeBron James' presence for improving the efforts of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on that end, drawing a parallel between James and Kevin Garnett's role with the Celtics.
And it should hearten Celtics fans to know Rivers, who signed a five-year contract extension with Boston last month, is still taking notes on the Heat, telling Lupica he watched Game 1 of the Finals with a notebook in hand. "You’re scouting the game and that’s because the Heat may win or may not win, but the Heat are who we are going to have to get through in order to get to the NBA Finals," Rivers said. "You’re watching them every second that you can. This is the best you are going to see them. This is probably the best time to scout them as well."
Given the potential for an NBA lockout, we don't know when precisely the Heat and Celtics will meet again. But when they do, Rivers' team ought to be more prepared. To beat Miami, he said, "you have to play right and you have to have the right pieces." It's up to him, and GM Danny Ainge, to put their club in that position.