WALTHAM, Mass. -- Given the way the 2008 NBA Finals played out, Celtics captain Paul Pierce can understand why the Lakers want to see Boston again. But Pierce noted Monday that the feeling is actually quite mutual, even if Boston doesn't boast a desire for revenge after emerging with the Larry O'Brien trophy that year.
"That's the natural mentality when you lose to a team in the championship and then have a chance to play that team again," Pierce said after Boston concluded a two-hour practice session at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint. "That's natural and if I was in [Kobe Bryant's] position, I'd probably feel the same way. I feel that way, regardless. Even though we won [in 2008], I want to play against L.A.; Go there and win a championship in my hometown again. The rivalry, period... There's so many things that can motivate you being in the Finals. You can put them all in a hat and pick one."
After watching the Lakers win a world title in 2009, Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted he even daydreamed about the two teams potentially meeting in this year's NBA Finals. Rivers noted that the extra intensity because of the rivalry is good for both teams.
"Obviously, both teams want to win a title, but both teams are happy to play the teams they are playing," said Rivers. "This is exactly the way we envisioned it during training camp. It's probably the same way they envisioned it, too."
In fact, that vision started long before training camp. It was only a few days after the Lakers topped the Magic in last year's Finals when Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson and Pierce had a chance encounter. Jackson recalled after the Lakers' Game 6 victory over the Suns Saturday how he told Pierce to get his team healthy so that they could meet again in this year's Finals. Pierce backed up the story Monday.
"Yeah, I bumped into him, shortly after the Finals," said Pierce. "He was in my neighborhood. I sorta, kinda bumped into him. He was at the crosswalk and I was walking my dog. He was a stop sign... in his convertible, so I just said congratulations to him. I think he mentioned something to that effect of, 'See you in the Finals next year,' or something like that."
Pierce is happy to oblige. Especially because he knows how thirsty Los Angles is for revenge, and he wouldn't mind disappointing them all over again.
"I've played in a lot of championship games when I played in AAU and when I lost those games, they hurt more, you'd almost rather lose earlier than in the championship," said Pierce. "When you come so close, that's something that sticks in your mind. [The Lakers] are a championship franchise, just like ourselves. They only play for championships and they only hang championship banners. It always hurts in a year you could have hung one."
Pierce is hoping that's a feeling he isn't dealing with next month.