MIAMI -- Eleven months ago, there was pain and uncertainty. The Boston Celtics had just lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers and no one seemed certain about what the future held for coach Doc Rivers and Boston's Big Three.
This time around there was pain, but softened ever so gently by the nearly universal decree that the Celtics plan to keep their core intact next season for what appears to be one final run at another NBA title.
Rivers gave strong assurance that he will return to the Boston bench next year, while Ray Allen suggested he has no desire to opt out of the final season of the two-year contract he signed last season.
"I'm leaning heavily towards coming back," Rivers said Wednesday after the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs by the Miami Heat. "I haven't made that decision. But I can tell you that I probably will. I've kind of come to that over the last couple of weeks. I'm a Celtic and I love our guys.
"I want to win again here. I do. And I'm competitive as hell. I have a competitive group, and so we'll see. But I can tell you that's where I'm at today. Tomorrow, I may change my mind, but that's where I'm at today."
Rivers added: "I don't believe this team is done."
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