When the name Doc Rivers comes up, one moment in time immediately surfaces to the forefront of my thoughts. Up until that moment occurred, I had always felt Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers was a solid NBA coach. After this moment I truly realized that I was watching greatness on an NBA sideline as long as Doc Rivers was the Boston Celtics head coach.
The moment I am referring to is game four of the 2008 NBA Finals against the wretched Lakers. After handling LA easily at home the first two games, Boston lost game three and was getting pummeled in game four on the road. They were down over twenty points and made LA look like the team that despite Boston’s dominant regular season were the clear favorites to win this series. This series looked like it was going to take on a different feel with the series tied and the momentum in LA’s favor. The Lakers were celebrating like the game was over going into the half and everyone thought this game was over.
The problem for the Lakers was Doc Rivers, whether he felt the game was over or not, did not coach like it was over. Rivers competed. He implored his team to compete. Every time the cameras or mics were put on him, those were the words that he was imploring his team to live by. Do not look at the scoreboard, just compete and get stops. The spirit to compete resonated from Doc Rivers to his players as the Celtics would stage one of the most epic comebacks in NBA Finals history to win game four and take a stranglehold on this series.
The fact is that until that game I felt Rivers was just enjoying the success off the efforts of three future hall-of-famers. I did not realize that he was the man that cultivated that never-say-die attitude that has become a hallmark of this team. It was Rivers all along coaching this team up and getting the most of the talent on the floor, and thus he truly deserves credit for Banner 17.
The following years have proved the success of Boston had a lot to do with Rivers’ cultivation of a never-say-die attitude. Despite injuries and serious roster flaws, Boston always finds a way to win, more than they probably should. The credit for that is clearly Doc Rivers and the will to compete. How else can one explain last season? The Boston Celtics had injuries that killed the seasons of Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, Avery Bradley, and Ray Allen. Yet, Boston was only five minutes away from beating the team that won the whole ball of wax, a team that was clearly more talented and healthier. The reason is Doc Rivers imposing the will to compete on his team. If the teams switched coaches last year, Miami would have swept Boston because Rivers would have gotten the most out of his roster, unlike coach Spo.
The fact is that issues will arise for Boston. Injuries will happen and there will be tough moments. The good news is the team will still be ready to compete. This means Doc Rivers has done his job and Boston will have another solid year. Remember, Go Green Or Go Home!