Said Pierce: “When you have a guy that has it going like he did today, you wonder what he ate that morning or whatever he did that day, he needs to keep doing it, because it worked, obviously, tonight. It’s fun to watch, to be a part of that.”
Though the loss stings, Rivers said he told his team before the game that this was its first “playoff” game, an important test with so many new players.
“And I was really looking forward to the game because I didn’t how a lot of guys were going to react,” he said. “Overall, besides not winning the game, we passed the test. But losing the game is what you’ll remember.”
The Celtics played their best basketball of the season in stretches, then fell into lulls, losing their pace or, on too many occasions, possession of the ball. Their running style did seem to catch the Heat offguard.
“They brought a lot of speed to the game,” James said. “They’ve got a lot of it now, so we had to adjust to that, and once we adjusted to it for the most part, we were able to contain them a little bit.”
Even without Garnett, whom Rivers expects to play Wednesday in New Orleans, the Celtics were still in it at the end, still within reach of snapping a 22-game winning streak on the five-year anniversary of when they snapped another, against Houston.
“It was a fantastic game,” Rivers said. “I just don’t like losing.”