BOSTON- Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers made some strong statements during a recent interview regarding the Celtics team goals. Doc made it clear that the team has set their sights clear on the champion Miami Heat. Doc does not care about the Los Angeles Lakers, the New Jersey Nets, the Chicago Bulls, or even the Oklahoma City Thunder. Doc has said the main goal besides a title is knocking off the Heat.
The line of thinking on the surface makes sense. Miami has knocked the Boston Celtics out the last two years. The Heat are defending champs and thus the standard to be judged by right now. The Lakers and other Western Conference teams are not a factor until the Celtics can get out of the Eastern Conference. However, this line of thinking can be very dangerous for a basketball team.
The NBA is not shaped like it was in 1985 when former Lakers coach and current Heat President Pat Riley made the Celtics his team’s sole obsession. Back then the world and the NBA knew that baring a serious injury, Boston and LA were the true giants on the block. Every person involved with the NBA at the time knew this to be fact and thus Riley’s line of thinking worked because no one out west was contending with the Lakers back then. The only true rival was Boston for LA and thus the rational by Riley worked.
This current NBA is very different. The reality is there is not one team that is so dominate that they are a lock to get to the Finals. However, there are a lot of solid teams out there that could easily beat any of the other contenders and make a title run. Would anyone really be shocked if the Thunder beat the Lakers? Would it truly be a surprise if Boston reloaded this year did indeed beat the Heat? If the Bulls core are healthy, would it truly be a stretch to see them in the Finals? The answer is no to all these questions provided you are smart enough to look at the facts objectively.
The parody amongst the contenders means that focusing on one contender only could prove to be foolish. What if Boston does face Miami in the second round of the playoffs and knocks them off? Does this mean the mission is accomplished? The answer is no. The fact is Boston would then have to ramp up to defeat another two solid opponents. If the focus is Miami and the goal is accomplished then Doc runs the risk of a let down after the big win amongst his players.This happens in sports all the time. After a big win against a great team, a team falls to an inferior opponent due to the fact the team put all their energy into beating just that one team and then had nothing left for the next opponent. Maybe a couple of the key guys lose just a hair of focus or get just a little too confident. The difference between winning a title and losing a title could be just one or two role players not quite focused enough to beat their opponent.
The bottom line is establishing beating Miami as a goal is the right move. The road through the East is through South Beach right now. However, the road to the title does not have Miami as the only stop. This means Boston better be paying attention to the rest of the league as well. If the Celtics do not then they will be headed home early this season. Remember Go Green Or Go Home!!!!!!!