Doc Rivers makes return to Boston to face Celtics Wednesday
Reunion week continues for the Boston Celtics.
Just hours after their Brooklyn meeting with former Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the C’s are back in Boston Wednesday (7:30 p.m., CSN) where they will see another very familiar face in Doc Rivers.
Rivers makes his first trip to Boston with a team other than the Celtics since the 2002-03 season as head coach of the Magic.
So, how are things going for him out West? Not bad. The Clippers (14-8) currently hold the four seed in the extremely-competitive Western Conference, and point guard Chris Paul is once again putting up MVP-worthy numbers for the Clippers.
Even so, there have been bumps along the road. The Clippers are 2-3 in their last five games going into Wednesday’s game, including a loss to the Cavaliers in which Rivers called his team out for “pouting” during the game.
If you’re a Celtics fan, you know firsthand that Rivers never held back when it came to criticizing his players for poor performance on the court. It’s obvious he’s trying to change the culture in L.A., much like he, Pierce and Garnett did in Boston.
But things didn’t quite end in storybook fashion for Doc in Boston. Rivers essentially said “no thanks” to Danny Ainge’s rebuilding plan, instead working out a trade that sent him to the Clippers, a team that already had major pieces in place for a championship run. The original trade was to include Kevin Garnett, but after some painfully public negotiations in which the NBA got involved, that deal fell through, and Garnett and Pierce were eventually shipped to Brooklyn.
It’s been a “he said, he said” game between Ainge and Rivers since that time as far as the details on why he left and how it all came about. But many Celtics fans feel Rivers quit on the team when the going got tough, instead choosing an easier route in La La Land.
Garnett and Pierce will surely get a raucous standing ovation at the TD Garden upon their return in late January. But Rivers may here a mix of cheers and boos tonight.
Rivers expects that it will be a good night.
“Wednesday will be nice,” Rivers told the L.A. Times after Monday night’s game in Philadelphia. “It’ll be very nice for me. I put nine years in there, nine wonderful years. So that will be really cool. It’ll be great to see, hell I would say all my players, but there’s not a lot left. But there are some.”
Brad Stevens and the “rebuilding” Celtics hope to spoil Rivers’ fun and make the story that night not about Rivers, but about another big C’s win.