Celtics coach Doc Rivers won't be thrilled with his team's overall performance when he watches tape from Wednesday's overtime thriller against the Heat, but you couldn't wipe the smile off his face following the 112-106 triumph in Miami.
"What a great win for us," Rivers beamed after recapping the final play of regulation, in which Paul Pierce lofted a perfect alley-oop to Rajon Rondo for an overtime-forcing lay-in at the buzzer. "We had it in our hands and literally gave it back. Then for us to keep believing."
Here are some more highlights from Rivers' postgame chat:
Overcoming struggles, shaking rust: The Celtics committed a season-high 26 turnovers and the Heat cleaned up on the offensive glass, but Rivers was simply proud of his team for finding a way to escape with the win. "We turned the ball over and it felt like they shot until they made it sometimes," said Rivers. "But we still won the game. A lot of guys did a lot of little things out there."
Original final shot was for Pierce: Rivers noted that the Celtics originally intended to get the ball into the hands of captain Paul Pierce for a final shot in a tie game with less than six seconds to play in regulation. "The play was for Ray [Allen] to catch it, then throw it to Paul, so Paul could go [isolation]," said Rivers. "Ray put the ball on the floor, but [Dwyane] Wade's a great defender." Wade, who poured in a game-high 44 points, picked Allen's pocket near midcourt and streaked the other way for what seemed like a demoralizing winning basket. But there was just enough time, after another timeout, for Pierce's lob to Rondo.
Eastman: It's not over: Rivers pointed to assistant coach Kevin Eastman as the team's biggest cheerleader before Pierce and Rondo's end-of-regulation heroics. "In the timeout, guys were dejected," said Rivers. "Hell, I had to grab them just to get them into the timeout -- they thought the game was over. Kevin Eastman kept saying, 'Guys, it's not over, it's not over. We've got a play.' So it's great that we believed that."
Bench gets MVP: Second-year players J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker didn't get into Wednesday's game, but Rivers jokingly dubbed them the MVPs of the night as part of a bench that prevented Rasheed Wallace from picking up his 11th technical foul of the season after he got his sixth personal foul of the game late in the fourth quarter. "I gave the MVP to the bench," said Rivers. "When Rasheed fouled out, they all grabbed him and dragged him off the floor. That might have been the most important play of the game because a tech was coming soon."
Tired players: Rivers noted that Pierce was running on fumes in the fourth quarter, which led to a decision to go away from the captain late in the game (though Rivers did draw up a potential final play for Pierce near the end of regulation). What's more, Kendrick Perkins was coming off a bout with food poisoning, which kept him out of practice Tuesday. Rivers said he probably pushed his big man to the limit Wednesday. Perkins came up big with 20 points and 10 rebounds over 40 minutes. "We were going to leave [Perkins] out there until he passed out," joked Rivers. "With the minutes he played, he'll be useless [Thursday]."