Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When you're the champs, the target is even bigger

As this article points out, at 42-11, the Celtics are "one game ahead of last year’s pace when they won 66 games."

That's a credit to BOS coach Doc Rivers, who "spent part of last summer consulting with coaches of teams that have won NBA titles to get an idea how to approach the situation."

"I talked to tons of coaches. Everyone is going to come at you. (The coaches said) as much as you can emphasize that, you still can’t enough. I think you have to experience it, and they’re absolutely correct on that statement. I’ve been on those other teams as a player and a coach, and I understand how fired up you get to play the champions. It’s been more taxing in some ways. I don’t think our guys have expected the intensity that each game has.’’

Veteran Paul Pierce describes how much rockier the road to repeat is for defending champions:

"Teams are going to be up for you. They’re going to be ready. Everything was kind of new last year, us coming together. Teams didn’t really know what to expect. Now, everybody knows what to expect. We’re the defending champs. It has been a little bit of a tougher road that it was a year ago because the target is even bigger. Teams that don’t play as well normally are going to come out and play their best against you. There’s a little bit more trash talking, a little bit more grabbing and holding. That’s all a part of being the champs because everybody is trying to take you down. Everybody wants to get a piece of the pie."