In Rivers’s eyes, one is not enough
He stresses the need to keep pressure on
PHILADELPHIA - Celtics coach Doc Rivers was not taking a “mission accomplished’’ attitude about winning a game on the road in the Eastern Conference semifinals to take a 2-1 series lead over the 76ers into Friday night’s game.
“Who said we came to get one?’’ Rivers replied to a question during an interview at the team’s hotel Thursday. “We never said that. You guys said it. We’re taking it one at a time.
“The key for us is keep our focus and energy high - not play like you’ve won one, so you can relax. To win the series, that’s the point here.
“So, one game at a time and you can’t look at what you’ve done, whether you lost or won.
“We’ll reinforce it. They know it. They’ve been around long enough to know it, but human nature comes into play.’’
In the Celtics’ 107-91 win in Game 3 Wednesday, Ray Allen scored 2 points on 1-for-1 shooting, his lowest shot total since joining the team for the 2007-08 season.
“They’re trying to take me and Paul [Pierce] out of the game,’’ Allen said. “And Paul attacked early in transition, [Rajon] Rondo attacked in transition, so those players are tough to stop.
“All of our set stuff, they’re trying to stop. So when I come off screens, they’re contributing two guys to me. So to have some type of impact, I’ve got to make sure that I’m giving help on the big guy down low and rebounding. That’s been our Achilles’ heel all year.
“So in order for us to win, we’ve got to rebound, and that gives us transition. So for us guards, we’ve got to have a more concentrated effort rebounding.’’
Allen has twice attempted just two shots in a game as a Celtic, the last time in a 16-minute stint against Houston April 2, 2010. His only previous one-attempt game was as a Seattle SuperSonic on Jan. 11, 2006, when he was ejected in the second quarter following a scuffle with Orlando guard Keyon Dooling, who is now a teammate.
Allen said Kevin Garnett (27 points) wanted to get him more involved in the offense.
“He told me in the locker room, ‘We’ve got to do whatever we can to get you open,’ ’’ Allen said. “And I looked at him and I said, ‘Kevin, you’re the guy that’s getting the shots and you’re the guy that’s scoring, and we just won by 20. I don’t need to shoot for my ego or anything like that. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. They’re going to continue to guard us this way, and you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing. We’re going to keep getting you the ball.’ ’’
Said Garnett, “My role here is to be a post presence. The first role of all post players here is to get Paul, Ray, Rondo - our wing players - open.
“And the perspective I was speaking from was setting picks - the opportunity of getting the ball to [Allen]. We’ve understood that since Day 1, since we’ve all came in here. So, that’s how it goes, and that’s how it’s been able to work.
“The conversation between Ray and I was about getting our shooters open, our point guard open – nothing more, nothing less. From that perspective, that’s how this team has been built since I’ve been here.’’
Pierce on the Sixers: “We know they will play a better game. They’re at home again, and if we win this next game, you know, I like our chances with two more home games. So we’ve got to expect a better home game, get the crowd behind them. So we’ve got to be able to come out and take that first punch, withstand it, and just try to grind it out like we did yesterday.’’ . . . Said Garnett, “Really, it’s about coming out, cutting down on mistakes, knowing the game plan, sticking with the game plan, not making too many changes, playing really hard, cutting those mistakes, have a minimum mistakes. That’s what really makes a series. I really feel the team that’s most aggressive and imposes its will - any time I’ve ever been in a tough series, those things have come to be major factors in the series. We just have to continue what we followed yesterday, not only impose our will but make sure we’re defensively sound and, like Paul said, be able take that first punch and be able to return it.’’
Brandon Bass followed a 5-for-15 Game 2 with a 5-for-10 performance Wednesday. “If you’re a shooter, you better keep taking them,’’ Rivers said. “When we had Eddie House, he not only had to take shots but get them up quick, because he knew if he didn’t score, we were taking him out - because that was his value. Now, Brandon has more value to us than that. But that’s what he does - he makes 15-footers. But he has to keep taking them. That’s who he is.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.