MIAMI – You know you’re deep in the NBA playoffs when talk turns to luggage.
It started during the 2006 NBA Finals when then Miami coach Pat Riley famously declared before Game 6 at Dallas that he had “packed one suit, one shirt and one tie” for the trip.
With Miami holding a 3-2 lead, one wondered if Riley might have to hit the nearest men’s store for Game 7 attire if his Heat lost Game 6. But that became moot after Miami closed out the series with a 95-92 win.
Last year, it was the Mavericks leading 3-2 in the NBA Finals before they headed to Miami for Game 6 and a possible Game 7. But Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was much less forthcoming about his luggage.
“I feel like I’ve gotten to know you well,” Carlisle said to reporters. “But I don’t believe at this point I’m ready to share the number of pairs of underwear I packed.”
Carlisle didn’t need many since the Mavericks closed out the series with a win in Game 6.
Now, Boston is showing up in Miami for Saturday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Heat. Following the Heat’s 98-79 win at Boston on Thursday, Rivers was quite willing to share details about his team’s luggage.
“You can see their resolve in the locker room,” Rivers said about his team wanting to win in Miami and then head to Oklahoma City for Game 1 of the Finals on Tuesday and Game 2 on Thursday. “They’re not just going to pack for Sunday. They’re going to bring suits for Tuesday, and they’re going to bring suits for Thursday. And that’s the way we’re going to plan to do it.”
On Friday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra dismissed Rivers’ remark, saying, “I don’t care.” And Rivers was asked what prompted him to volunteer that information, which could be seen as being as much of a boast as it is simply practical packing.
“Well, really, I think someone more asked the question “What did you tell (the players)?”‘ Rivers said. “What else am I going to tell them? It’s pretty obvious. We are going. We have to pack. So I wasn’t really trying to give a message to that point. I was pretty much telling it like it is. We’re all packed. Guys have a lot of luggage, and we’re hoping we could use it.”
Riley underpacked six years ago, but it turned out well for Miami. Now, the Heat are hoping the Celtics overpacked.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson