MIAMI -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows everyone is shoveling dirt on his team, but Rivers remains unwaveringly optimistic that his team will respond with its best effort with its back against the wall in Wednesday's Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.
Boston is staring at a 3-1 series deficit, something only eight teams in NBA history have ever rallied out of, and teams that win three of the first four games in a best-of-seven series have a .960 all-time winning percentage.
"We had a good film session [Tuesday] and guys were disappointed with the way we played in Game 4," said Rivers. "They thought, as poorly as we played, in our eyes, we still had a shot to win the game in regulation. When you gift a gifted team 18 turnovers -- 28 points [off turnovers] -- in the playoffs, you’re usually not going to win that game. Everyone was just agitated with how they played, how they performed, and how they executed. And they should be."
The Celtics appeared to run out of gas in Monday's overtime session and Boston's aging roster is again in focus as some wonder if that window of opportunity is about to slam shut.
"The good news with us is that we were older when we got together four years ago," said Rivers. "We’ve been old for a long time, we’re going to continue to be old. We’re not going to get any younger, but we understand that. We understood when we put our team together and we talked bout it the year we won [a world title in 2008]. Everyone was saying it was going to take a year and I was thinking, ‘We don’t have that. You just don’t know with health.’ Unfortunately, I was right because we really haven’t been healthy since that one year.
"But they have great pride and I think you’ll see that. I think I’ll enjoy the way we play.”
Rivers did note that, at the end of the day, all the pride in the world won't help if the Celtics don't perform on the court.
"Pride is nice to have, it’s just like playing hard is nice," said Rivers. "You have to play hard and smart, and you have to have pride and perform. And we have to do those things. It’s more about our performance than anything inside of us."
A few more nuggets from shootaround:
* Rivers said he didn't know if point guard Rajon Rondo (dislocated left elbow) had improved much, health-wise, since Monday's Game 4 loss, but expects Rondo to start and be a factor in Game 5. "I have no idea [if he's feeling better]," said Rivers. "All he’s done is treatment. It's not like we’ve been on the floor. Honestly, I wouldn’t know. He’s moving better as far as walking and he's talking better. At least those are good things. I’ll know a little more after shootartound." Rivers said film review revealed that Rondo actually struggled more defensively, particularly trying to get over screens and allowing penetration, but believes the left arm injury didn't affect Rondo too greatly, offensively.
* Rivers on struggling Glen Davis: "We need him, but he’s been struggling for a while. It started before the playoffs and he's still in it. He had occasional [strong efforts], Game 4 in New York was terrific. And he had a four- or five-minute stretch [in Game 3 vs. Miami], so we have to keep going to him and see if we can get something out of him." Asked about what's going on in his mind, Rivers quipped: "I have no idea what's going on in his mind and I don't want to get in there."
* Asked about the final play of regulation that broke down in Game 4, Rivers again stressed disappointment in the lack of execution. "We didn’t have to break it down [on film], it was already broke down. We did it on our own. It was a bad play, bad execution all the way around. It shouldn’t have happened and it rarely happens with us. I was disappointed because we’ve only run that play 10 to 20 times, maybe. We just got to thinking too much. Every once in a while, and I always say that about our team, we get too smart and try to do something. 'Let’s do this, this time.' It doesn’t take but one guy, then all of a sudden, everything blows up and that’s what happened.”