WALTHAM, Mass. — Two wins away from the NBA finals, the Boston Celtics have plenty of reasons to be confident.

But overconfident? Don’t count on it, no matter what Paul Pierce said.

Before leaving the court after the Celtics took a 2-0 lead over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, Pierce looked straight into the camera and said in a live, 60-second television interview, “We’re coming home to close it out.”

Coach Doc Rivers wasn’t pleased.

“I didn’t like it,” Rivers said Thursday. “I don’t mind the confidence part. That’s good. You’ve got to have confidence, but we want to be humble and we haven’t achieved anything. I think that’s what he was trying to say. I wish they had taken the mike away (before) the last couple of words.”

The Celtics’ 95-92 win in which Pierce scored 28 points sent them home with a chance to sweep the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals by winning Saturday and Monday night.

Most players who returned to practice after a day off Wednesday don’t like the three-day break between games, but it gives them more time to prepare. Had Game 3 been just two days after the Celtics went up 2-0, the remaining glow might have left them overconfident.

“We still haven’t played our best basketball,” Pierce said. “This team is real humble. We’re not taking these games that we won in Orlando for granted, knowing that they beat us here a couple of times during the season.”

Rivers reminded his players of Orlando’s 2-0 record in Boston during the regular season. He also knows the first two games were decided by a total of seven points.

“We did our job (at Orlando) but we haven’t done our job at home,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, until that happens nothing’s happened in the series.”

Pierce chose his words more carefully before Thursday’s practice than he did two days earlier.

Answering the first two questions Tuesday, he praised the Magic and said his offense has improved because he doesn’t have to focus on guarding LeBron James as he did in the previous round. In response to the third and final question, he said Celtics fans wouldn’t let the team relax with a 2-0 lead, but finished with the comment that bothered Rivers.

“It wasn’t a big deal for me,” Pierce said. “I’m just saying I wanted us to go home. I want our crowd to be ready. I want us to play our best and I want us to win two games. And that’s it.”

Did he receive any feedback for his comment?

“I was pretty much at home with my daughter all day (Wednesday),” Pierce said. “She didn’t say anything.”

Different teammates had different reactions.

“I’m behind him,” Rajon Rondo said.

Ray Allen, one of the team’s more serious players, was less supportive.

“It doesn’t bum me out,” he said, “but I think Paul just has to understand that we’re a classy organization and we always have to make sure we operate that way.”

Referee Joe DeRosa has been suspended for one game without pay for throwing a ball at a fan during halftime of Game 2 of the Celtics-Magic series.


76ERS: Philadelphia has agreed to terms with TNT analyst Doug Collins to become the team’s new coach, a person familiar with the decision said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made public. The person said the official announcement was likely to come today. Terms were not immediately available.

Team president Ed Stefanski interviewed Collins on May 1, and he emerged as the leading candidate to replace Eddie Jordan. The pool of candidates included former Dallas coach Avery Johnson and Toronto Coach Sam Mitchell.

Collins has a record of 332-287 in coaching stints with Chicago, Detroit and Washington.


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