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At the team's annual Shamrock Gala, Celtics coach Doc Rivers marveled at the talent accumulated on his roster, going as far as to say they are the NBA Champions -- on paper.
"Of course paper doesn't play, people play," said Rivers, turning to address his players directly. "And on paper we're the NBA Champions. Now, we have to do it on the floor. So that's the next step."
Rivers dropped this challenge in front of fans and supporters, just a few nights before leading his team against the Eastern Conference-favorite Miami Heat.
It's no secret Danny Ainge created a roster filled with Hall of Famers, All-Stars and bench players worthy of starting on most NBA teams. The fans know it. The coaches know it. The players know it. But, as Rivers said, knowing it isn't enough. Taking that next step -- proving it -- is essential for making that promise leap off the page and transform into a title team.
Keeping with the light nature of the event, Rivers kept his comments short. After undergoing a procedure to remove a lesion from his throat, he did not coach the final preseason game. So, Rivers told the crowd team captain Paul Pierce would spell him at the mic. It just so happened he called for his replacement after taking claim of the NBA Paper Title.
"And that's where Paul's going to come in -- he's going to tell you how we're going to do it," said Rivers, slinking into the background with a smile and a laugh.
Pierce mainly touched on the team's chemistry, saying it makes this group "special" and drives them in practice.