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June 12, 2008

Doc Rivers


Q. What kept you guys in it despite the fact you were down 24?
DOC RIVERS: Well, I really thought the fact that we had made a couple runs in the first half, you know, got to within 13 a couple times and then they got it right back up, it let us know that we were capable of making runs.
So the whole key was us getting stops. They came out in the first quarter, scored every time down. I thought we actually had great shots. I think I counted three or four lay-ups and three or four wide-open jump shots and then they came down and scored. So I just think going small, spacing the floor, scoring, but getting stops. The whole key was that they just didn't give up, and that comes from them. Nothing I did. They just had enough mental toughness to hang in there long enough, and I'm really proud of them in that fact.

Q. Just talk about finally getting over the hump when you guys got the basket that gave you the lead and what that did for your guys' confidence?
DOC RIVERS: Well, I thought once we got it to down one and down three, we felt pretty good. We felt very good. The one little stretch I was a little concerned, I think it was two minutes left right before the fourth. I knew I had to give Kevin a rest, and I thought Leon -- he only played four minutes, but they were a huge four minutes. It allowed Kevin to rest and get back on the floor and then finish with energy. I thought that for us was a big stretch in the game. Once we got the lead, obviously we were thrilled to death. As far as when we were down, nothing was going right for us, and we just hung in there.

Q. And talk about this in terms of comebacks you've had in your career as a coach and where you are in the position you're in now.
DOC RIVERS: Well, it's a good position to be in, but you have to win one game four times, you know what I'm saying. We've only done it three times as far as I'm concerned. Obviously we're thrilled with the win and it's a great comeback, but we still have to win one game and that's the way we view it. As far as the comeback, it was a great comeback, but you don't get anything for it.

Q. Can you talk about the decision to go with the three-point shooters and why that worked so well?
DOC RIVERS: Well, because they were just trapping all over the floor. You know, they were trapping off Rajon, they were trapping off Perk early. I brought it up to our staff yesterday, probably a 50/50 split, and I just did it, honestly, because I thought we had to have floor spacing. When Pose made those shots, I knew that from that point on, we were going to have one-on-one coverage. Whether we made shots from that point on was up to us. But the trap stopped, the floor was spaced, and once the floor was spaced our scorers could score.

Q. Can you talk about halftime, what was said, what wasn't said?
DOC RIVERS: Well, what was said was "hang in there," number one; number two, that all the plays were made by them, all the hard plays. We had cut it to 11 once or 13 once, and every time we cut the lead, they made a play. There was a loose ball that we didn't get, they saved. It led to I think it was a Luke Walton three. Farmar ends the quarter with a three, Fisher with four seconds left on the clock gets a three-point play. I just thought they were making plays and we were not. It had nothing to do with Xs and Os to me at that point. It had to do with when there was a scramble situation, they made all the plays and we didn't.
I told them we were getting great shots and we were going to continue to get those and they would go in. But we would not win the game unless we defended and we made plays. And I thought in the second half we made the plays.

Q. Can you talk about the magnitude of the Ray Allen bucket?
DOC RIVERS: Oh, it was huge. It was huge. Paul was exhausted, and you could see it. I mean, he didn't even -- on that play he didn't want to come to the ball. It was really supposed to be a middle pick-and-roll with Kevin and Ray, and Ray waved Kevin off because he liked the match-up that he had already, so he didn't want to bring another defender in to help. It was a great call by Ray. And then him getting to the basket was huge. The lay-up was just tremendous.

Q. Can you talk about Paul's just commitment to defense, especially against Kobe in that third quarter? It looked like he decided that guy wasn't going to score on him.
DOC RIVERS: Paul came to me at halftime and said, "I want to guard Kobe. Let me guard him." I'm foulless. I can commit some fouls, be physical with him. It would take him off the post, so we went with it and it was terrific. I think people will look at his offense, but I thought we won the game because Paul was a tremendous defensive player tonight.

Q. That's something he's talked about since the beginning of this year, focusing on becoming a better defensive player.
DOC RIVERS: It's easy for him to do it because he had some help. Before I've asked him to score, rebound, score the assist, bring the ball up the floor and defend. That's a little much. Now because he has help, he can focus more on defense and he's done that.

Q. Did Kendrick dislocate his shoulder again?
DOC RIVERS: Don't know. We'll find out. When I first saw it, I didn't like what I saw, but I don't know yet.

Q. Can you just talk about the play of Eddie House after not having played that much?
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, it was terrific. We would have gone with Eddie or Sam, honestly. We just needed a guard that they had to stay with so they couldn't help. With Rajon they've been allowed to put Kobe on him, and Kobe might be the best help defender I've seen since Pippen. Putting a shooter on the floor forced Kobe to stay home, and that gave Kevin and Paul room.

Q. I get the feeling that I still haven't seen the absolute best that this team could play. Do you feel like that as a coach?
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, I told them that. I mean, I was obviously happy with the win. But we've played in quarters throughout this series. We have yet to play four quarters in my opinion, and I'm sure they feel the same way.
But I know we can play better. There's no doubt about that.

Q. When this team was constructed, the concept in some respects was Kevin Garnett gets you to a certain point and now you have the finishers in Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, at least offensively. Did that come into play tonight?
DOC RIVERS: Yeah, it did. Kevin made a huge shot on the post. That was big for us because we just had to give Paul a break. He had gone basically carrying the load almost for 12 straight minutes, and I thought that was maybe the single biggest basket. There was so many big ones.
But that play allowed us to stretch it to five, I think, if my count is right. So Kevin contributed, as well.
The thing with Kevin, he's such a great passer, he's such a great threat that Paul is a great closer and so is Ray, but you can't leave Kevin. When he's the only big on the floor and you have guards driving and the big is reluctant to leave. Ray's lay-up was an example of having Kevin Garnett on the floor. You can't leave him, so it gave us a chance to get to the basket.

Q. We've seen teams come back from deficits like this before, but on the road against the Lakers, what does it say about your team that they didn't give up?
DOC RIVERS: Just great mental toughness. They just hung in there together. We've been preaching leaning in. When things get bad, lean into each other, all year, and tonight we did it.

Q. How does it feel to be on the verge of a championship?
DOC RIVERS: Don't feel it yet. Let's win one first, then I'll let you know.

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