Celtics coach Doc Rivers succumbed to his emotions in the final seconds of Boston's loss to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals as he subbed out Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray. Allen Perhaps he suspected that this may have been the last stand for the Boston Celtics' Big 3.
With 28.3 seconds left in the game and the Heat leading 99-88, Rivers appeared to tear up after getting a hug from Garnett. Even the Miami fans seemed to give them a standing ovation.
"We can see Doc Rivers very emotional already," ESPN announcer Mike Breen said. "He has always said it. Especially this year it seems at times how much he loves this this team and loves these players."
The Celtics’ president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, must decide the fates of Allen and Garnett, who both have expiring contracts. With Avery Bradley emerging as an efficient backcourt partner to Rondo, some believe Allen is on his way out while KG has a better shot of returning.
Garnett, Pierce and Allen (plus Rondo) have been together for five seasons ever since Boston traded for the sharpshooter and and the Big Ticket during the 2007 offseason. In those five years, Boston went 54-39 in the playoffs, made two NBA Finals appearances and came out with one NBA championship.
"I don't know what Kevin's situation is," Allen said after the game. "There's still a lot of basketball left in my legs. I know that for sure. It's hard to say what can happen, what may happen, but you know, the four of us, know how to play basketball, know how to win games."
If Saturday night was in fact the last game of Boston's Big 3 era, that's how Rivers will remember them, not as individuals but rather a team.
"I know everybody will look at the Big 3 individually, Kevin, Ray and Paul. I'm never going to look at them individually. I'm going to look at them as a group collective," Rivers said during his postgame press conference. "They all did it, they're willing to do it for the better of the team. I think that's what we should focus on. How much they gave up to try to win. That's what I'll remember most about them."