WALTHAM, Mass. -- How does Celtics coach Doc Rivers see Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI playing out between the New England Patriots and New York Giants?
"I said [on Friday] 31-21 Patriots," said Rivers. "But after our game last night [against the New York Knicks], I’ve changed it. I think our game and the football game will be very similar. A little nasty, a little ugly -- but then the Patriots will win at the end."
When a reporter jokingly offered the final score of Friday's Celtics-Knicks game, Rivers laughed and said, "Yeah, 91-89."
Rivers is a big NFL fan and admitted he has a handful of offers to visit friends for Super Bowl parties following Boston's Sunday matinee with the Memphis Grizzlies. He said he'll likely retreat to a one-man Super Bowl party before halftime.
"I got invited to a couple of people's [parties], but I’m pretty antisocial with the Super Bowl," said Rivers. "I actually like watching the game. I’ll go visit some friends for about a quarter, and then I’ll slip out and go home and watch it by myself. I like that."
Rivers has been on the Patriots bandwagon this season (and in year's past given the loyalty among Boston coaches). Of course, there was one time when he was rooting heavily against New England back during Super Bowl XX in 1986 when Rivers' beloved Chicago Bears throttled the Patriots, 46-10.
"Oh, I watched that at Randy Wittman's house with Scott Hastings and all my Hawks teammates," recalled Rivers, who had the luxury of two consecutive offdays to not only watch the game, but celebrate it the day after. He fondly recalled being the only true Bears fan in attendance and used that to his advantage.
"I did well that night," said Rivers. "I took bets after they went down 3-0. And that’s a fact."
Read on for more Super Bowl tidbits from Celtics players.
Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal likes the Patriots by a field goal: "I love the [Dallas] Cowboys, [but] since they had a horrible year, Patriots all the way. The Giants are in [the NFC East with the Cowboys], so I hate the Giants. Obviously, I’m here in this good sports town, and I know how much the fans care about their teams. I think [the Patriots] have a big chip on their shoulder playing the Giants again. I think Brady, he’s saying all the right things right now, but I know [what he's thinking] as a competitor. I think it’s going to be a close game, but I’d say [Patriots] by three."
Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson, an Indianapolis native and Colts fan, admitted it's hard to root for the Patriots given that he grew up supporting Peyton Manning and the Colts. "I probably should [support the Patriots being in Boston now], but I gotta stay loyal to the home team. Honestly, I just want to really see a good game. I could care less who wins. I'm not a huge fan of either team, but I do like both of the quarterbacks."
Celtics guard Ray Allen said he's rooting for the Patriots, his adopted team. "The Patriots have been my team now for almost 20 years. I've been watching since UConn. Maybe the first day I got on campus, you're sitting there in the dorm, I never really had a team because I grew up [in a military family] all over the world, so I never really had a hometown team. When I got here to Connecticut, I was around kids from Massachusetts and Connecticut. It's ironic, it was either the Patriots or the Giants. I was sitting in that position and you've got friends you're betting with and betting against, talking trash. I don't play football, but the Patriots have been my team. You have that sense of pride when they win."
Allen said if any of his teammates don't have plans for the Super Bowl, he'll be happy to host them for Sunday's festivities. "My door is always open," said Allen. "You just have to get through my gate."