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Rivers Plays Inspirational Role as Knicks Face Elimination by Bulls

June 04, 1993|MARK HEISLER

CHICAGO — Doc Rivers has a dream and a nightmare.

His dream is to see his New York Knicks rally from their 3-2 deficit against the Chicago Bulls tonight in the Eastern Conference finals. His nightmare occurred in 1988, when he saw his Atlanta Hawks blow a 3-2 lead over the Boston Celtics.

Rivers told the story to his teammates after Wednesday's Game 5 loss to the Bulls.

"We came home in '88, there were 2,000 people at the airport," Rivers said. "We felt great about ourselves. We lost by one in Game 6. We lost by one in Game 7, and the Celtics felt great about themselves."

The Knicks got a glimmer of good news Thursday when X-rays on Charles Oakley's right hand came back negative. The injury was diagnosed as a bruise, and Oakley is expected back tonight.

Knick Coach Pat Riley gave his emotionally battered players Thursday off.

Chicago Coach Phil Jackson held practice, intent on ending this series without having to see Madison Square Garden again.

"I think what we don't want to do--possibly what New York did (Wednesday)--is anticipate that the home crowd, because of their energy, will give us a surge," Jackson said.

"We thought maybe New York just let down their guard a little bit and expected the crowd to put the energy in the game and we were able to overcome it."

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