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Doc Rivers (c.) remains fiercely loyal to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
MIAMI — In their battle against LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce still have an ally in Doc Rivers.
Maybe that’s because he knocked down the first domino that led to the exodus from Boston.
A day before Brooklyn’s preseason finale Friday against the Heat, Rivers, who is now the Clippers’ coach, defended his former players against James’ insinuations that they acted hypocritically by leaving the Celtics.
James’ initial dig last week was in defense of Heat guard Ray Allen, who was the target of a wave of criticism from the Celtics for bolting to Miami in free agency last year.
Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports
LeBron James calls Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce hypocrites for bashing Ray Allen’s move to Miami.
“Paul and Kevin were traded,” Rivers said on ESPN Radio in Miami. “They were traded. Paul was traded whether he wanted to be or not. Kevin was the only one who had to agree to be traded even though he had already been traded. He had to agree to the trade. That’s completely different.”
Neither Garnett, who waived his no-trade clause to join the Nets, nor Pierce spoke to the media after Thursday’s practice. They are both expected to play against Miami. James will not play Friday, according Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
When told of James’ comments last week, Garnett growled, “Tell LeBron to worry about Miami. He has nothing to do with Celtics business. Next question.”
Pierce wouldn’t even address it, asking a rhetorical question to reporters: “I left Boston?” It was a way of pointing out his circumstances were different from Allen’s.
Simmons, Howard/New York Daily News
Kevin Garnett advises LeBron James to ‘worry about Miami’ upon learning of his comments.
Rivers admitted on the radio that James’ point had more merit regarding his own departure from Boston. Having recently signed a long-term deal with the Celtics, Rivers pushed for a trade to the Clippers because he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project.
Boston GM Danny Ainge then quickly dealt Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets.
“You could make more of a case for me leaving than Paul and Kevin,” Rivers said.
In the wake of media attention surrounding his comments, James has said he is done talking about other teams. Wade, who piggybacked the criticism of the former Celtics (albeit more diplomatically than James), was unsure if he’ll play Friday.
Brooklyn’s home opener is against the Heat on Nov. 1.
“We’re built to try to compete against anybody,” Deron Williams said when asked about the defending champs. “We have size. We have different lineups we can do. We’re built for anything being thrown at us.”