The Thunder-Memphis was historic in NBA playoffs. Four overtime games, which ties an NBA record. The series that OKC-Memphis matched? That Chicago-Boston first round series of 2009. Those Celtics were coached by Doc Rivers, who now is coaching the Clippers, the Thunder’s West semifinal foe.
Rivers was asked this week if playing that kind of excruciating series can take it out of a team. Did it harm those Celtics as they moved on after a seven-game series against the Bulls.
“Yeah, but we were old,” Rivers said. “Somebody asked me in the locker room, your Boston team, could they go through the Golden State series (which the Clippers just won, in seven games)? Yeah, we could have won that series, but we were dead for the next series because of our age. With no Kevin (Garnett) and our age, I thought that series did us in.”
And Rivers said the Thunder is youthful enough, it shouldn’t be adversely affected by the long, tight Memphis series.
“I don’t think it does anything for them,” Rivers said. “Has Russell Westbrook ever been tired in his life? I mean, really, he has more energy and plays harder than anybody, especially when you talk about a star player. I’ve never seen a player who plays like him at any level that he plays at. It would be a first if he was tired.”
By the way. Some of Rivers’ old war horses from Boston days still are playing. Just not with the Celtics. Ray Allen and the Heat are matched against Garnett and Paul Pierce with the Nets in an East semifinal. Brooklyn won its series with Toronto when Paul Pierce blocked Kyle Lowry’s last-second shot in Game 7.
“I didn’t know he could jump over a Monday paper,” Rivers said of Pierce.