Doc Rivers

Happy 31st birthday, Larry Bird vs. Dominique Wilkins Game 7 duel

Happy 31st birthday, Larry Bird vs. Dominique Wilkins Game 7 duel

Thirty-one years ago today, the old Boston Garden was the site of one of the great superstar duels the NBA has ever seen.

Larry Bird vs. Dominque Wilkins. Celtics vs. Hawks. Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 7.

On a Sunday afternoon, in the first of a Garden playoff doubleheader (the Bruins and Edmonton Oilers would play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final later that night), the two Hall of Famers staged a one-on-one battle to remember.

Bird and the Celtics came out on top, 118-116. Wilkins finished with 47 points - 12 in the fourth quarter - on 19-for-33 shooting. Bird had 20 of his 34 points in the fourth and was 15-for-24 for the game. And, in an ode to how different a game the NBA was then - each player only hit one 3-pointer. 

Tommy Heinsohn was the CBS analyst for the game with Brent Musburger doing the play-by-play. Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers was in Atlanta's backcourt. Heinsohn and Rivers looked back at the game with the voice of the Celtics.

Heinsohn: "Once it started to happen, you just saw the desire of both these players." 

Rivers: "The crowd here was amazing. I gotta tell you, I fell in love with the Celtic crowd in this game."

The Celtics would go on to lose to the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, but this game provided a lasting memory from that postseason.

Perhaps Musburger put it best after another late Bird drive and finish: "You are watching what greatness is all about."

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About Last Night: Doc's feisty Clippers giving Warriors a challenge

About Last Night: Doc's feisty Clippers giving Warriors a challenge

WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

Blakely: Doc Rivers, Clippers have Warriors feeling sick right now

Wow!  

You knew Doc Rivers and his scrappy Clippers teams would play hard and give themselves a chance to win but no one could have saw them taking two games in this series, let alone two games in a row at the Warriors’ home base, Oracle Arena.

The Clippers still trail the Warriors 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

Regardless of how things turn out, the Clippers will come out winners in this postseason. 

They came into the playoffs with a young team expected to get steamrolled by the two-time NBA champs. 

Instead they have hung with the Warriors with defense, multiple-effort plays and timely shot-making which has given them the kind of hope - not just for this series but for their overall growth going forward - that things will only get better as they continue to remake their team into a title contender. 

Forsberg: What’s up, Doc? 

Who in the world would have thought that six of the eight teams in the NBA playoffs would have clinched their spot in conference semifinals — and one of them WOULDN’T be the Golden State Warriors (not yet anyway).

Listen, there is little doubt that, as Lou Williams bluntly stated, the Warriors got caught looking ahead. But let’s give some credit to the Clippers as well. This is one scrappy, resilient team. Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers deserves a ton of credit for getting this team to play the way it has throughout the season. As the Celtics found out in February, this group just keeps coming.

The Clippers are helping their cause this summer when they should be able to chase the marquee names that will morph them from spunky underdog to legitimate contender. Feels a lot like the Celtics teams of a few years ago, when they got a taste of playoff success, then added the talent that made them a true contender.

For all the grief Doc got about not wanting to endure a rebuilding project here, he’s done a heck of a job coaching up a young team this season.

That said, Warriors will soon punch their playoff ticket.
 

SO... THAT HAPPENED

Chris Paul apparently thinks he's Adrian Beltre


NUMBER OF NOTE

57 points (23-33 FG) -- The combined performance for Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams off the Clippers' bench against the Warriors

THEY SAID IT

“Subtle mix of arrogance, and hard work.”
-- Clippers Lou Williams on how his team has been able to remain confident they can knock off the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors

WEDNESDAY'S SCOREBOARD

  • Rockets 100, Jazz 93 (HOU wins series 4-1)
  • Clippers 129, Warriors 121 (GSW leads series 3-2)

WHAT WE'LL BE WATCHING

BlakelyAre the Nuggets ready? 

There were many “I told ya so” types who were quick to anoint this Denver-San Antonio series belonging to the Spurs after they took an early lead in the series, only for the Nuggets to bounce back to the point where they can close it out tonight. 

The playoffs have a way of aging all teams, but that maturation becomes essential for a team like the Nuggets, who are among the youngest squads in the NBA. 

Jamal Murray is a much better player five games into this series, than he was at the start. The same holds true for Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Malik Beasley off the bench. 

We have seen how the Celtics, with a roster similar age-wise to the current Nuggets, have parlayed the success they enjoyed a year ago into helping them get off to their best playoff start under sixth-year head coach Brad Stevens this month. 

Denver, which can close out its series with San Antonio with a win tonight, has similar aspirations going forward. 

Speaking of the Celtics, Marcus Smart continues to offer up tangible hope that the 4-6 week timetable for his return to "basketball activities," just might be sped up a bit. 

He is riding the treadmill and doing some light shooting while showing little pain or discomfort due to the torn oblique injury he suffered against Orlando earlier this month. 

The most optimistic outlook wouldn’t have Smart returning to action until the latter stages of this series against Milwaukee.

But all indications are that Smart’s return will be closer to the six-week outlook.

Regardless, as long as Smart’s stepping on to the practice court hoisting up shots - even if he’s barely jumping on the release - there’s reason to keep hope alive that Smart’s return will come sooner rather than later.

Because if there’s a series in which the Celtics would greatly benefit from his presence on the floor in this year’s playoffs, this would be that series. 

Forsberg: Going the distance? 

It’d be nice if Round 1 could get one seven-game series. In order to do that, the Spurs will have to force a winner-take-all game with a victory tonight. Tough playoffs for the West’s top seeds but it at least makes a little more sense with these young Nuggets.

 

Nikola Jokic has been fantastic in this series but everything tends to hinge on Jamal Murray and his game-by-game shooting. Can Gregg Popovich drum up something to help his team force Game 7?

 

Given how many of these first-round series have bee snoozeworthy, the NBA better hope so.

THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE

  • Nuggets at Spurs, Game 6 (DEN leads series 3-2) -- 8:00pm, TNT

Chris Broussard joins a brand new Celtics Talk Podcast>>>>

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Doc Rivers not buying into Celtics drama, calls it 'humorous'

Doc Rivers not buying into Celtics drama, calls it 'humorous'

Ex-Celtics head coach Doc Rivers isn't buying into the drama that has surrounded his former team this season.

Last month, the C's blew a 28-point lead to Rivers' Clippers during what undoubtedly was the lowest point of Boston's season. But even after that loss and the ones that followed, as well as the off-court drama that included star Kyrie Irving, Rivers' opinion on the Celtics hasn't changed.

“It’s all humorous to me,” Rivers said of the Celtics panic, per the Boston Herald. “I just think they’re going to be great. They’re going to be fine when the playoffs start.

“I think when you go to the Finals or the Eastern Conference Finals, it takes a while," he added. "Sometimes you can go get your team. Sometimes you have to wait on your team. And sometimes your team just comes around. I think that’s them. They’ve had their issues, like every team in the NBA has issues at times — at times. Just because you have issues at times doesn’t mean you have issues, by the way.

“They’re going to be fine. They are as good as anybody in the East and as talented as anybody in the NBA. And when the playoffs start, I think everybody will see that.”

The Celtics recently have righted the ship as they enter Monday night's matchup against the Clippers with a three-game win streak. They'll aim to complete the West Coast road trip sweep following victories over the Warriors, Kings, and Lakers.

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