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Rivers, Celtics hit the road

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  May 23, 2008 03:20 PM

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Doc Rivers was asked about playing on the road, about pushing the tempo, and about the reemergence of Ray Allen during a conference call this afternoon.

He answered almost every question by talking about defense.

“We have to do a better job of getting stops,” Rivers said just before boarding a plane for Detroit today. “Game 2 came down to one team getting stops down the stretch and one team not being able to. We have to do a better job.”

The numbers back up the coach. The Pistons shot 49 percent in Game 2, including an unwieldy 65 percent in the second quarter. The 103 points scored by Detroit were more than 20 points higher than the average point total the Celtics had been holding opponents to at home.

“We can be a better defensive team than we were last night,” said Rivers. “They made shots, and they made plays, but if we’re going to win this series, and we want to, we need to be a better defensive team.”

It’s partially coach-speak, but Rivers said his team’s rotations weren’t as “crisp” in Game 2. In Game 1, he said the Celtics were the aggressors. Not so in Game 2.

“It was the total opposite,” he said.

The Celtics had the day off from practice and film study today, and the team was scheduled to fly to Detroit late this afternoon. The day off was planned, Rivers said, even before his team lost last night.

“Sometimes I think you need a mental break,” he said. “So we’re taking one, and we’ll be fresh tomorrow.”

The Pistons are 5-1 at home this postseason, having lost Game 1 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in their first-round series against the Sixers. The Celtics won the only regular season meeting between the two teams in Detroit, 92-85 on Jan. 5. The worst-kept secret in the playoffs is that the Celtics are 0-6 on the road so far this postseason.

“We know what made us a good road team [during the regular season],” said Rivers. “We executed well, we didn’t turn the ball over. We rebounded well. And we were a great defensive team.

“I really believe we’ll be fine. I think we’ll be fine on this trip coming up.”

  • Detroit’s Rasheed Wallace loves to fire up opposing crowds. Rivers was asked if the Celtics have a comparable pot-stirrer.

    “We have a great bench,” he said. “Our bench excites the other crowd, because they’re up and yelling all game. Our bench as a unit is one of the loudest in the league.”

  • Might we see the return of Sam Cassell in Detroit? Rivers was asked directly about going back with Cassell over Eddie House, and his answer danced around the question.

    “We’re always thinking about it,” he said. “It’s not like you stick with one lineup throughout. You go with what you think is the best combination to win the game. That’s what we do in our staff meetings.”

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