Game Preview: Clippers at Celtics
BOSTON - The building will be familiar, the bench not so much.
Doc Rivers, coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, will be at TD Garden on Wednesday night, this time working from the visitors' bench. It will be his first visit since May 3, the last game of his stay with the Boston Celtics.
"It will be very nice for me," Rivers said. "I put nine years in there, nine wonderful years. So that'll be really cool."
He led the Celtics to their 17th NBA championship in 2007-2008 when they compiled a 66-16 record, and to the seventh game of the 2010 NBA finals. He had a 416-305 regular-season record as coach of the Celtics and took them to the playoffs seven times.
They were eliminated in the first round of last season's playoffs by New York, losing the deciding sixth game at home 88-80. Afterward, Rivers, who had three years left on his contract with the Celtics, wouldn't commit to returning.
"Honestly, I just can't even think about that right now. So I don't know," he said. "I need to just detox, and we'll find that out."
Rivers was reluctant to be part of a rebuilding project with the Celtics, and on June 25 was traded to the Clippers for a 2015 first-round draft pick.
He has the Clippers in first place in the Pacific Division at 14-8 after a 94-83 win at Philadelphia on Monday, the fourth stop of a season high-tying seven-game trip.
His successor, Brad Stevens, has led the Celtics to the top of a weak Atlantic Division, and they are coming off a 104-96 loss in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Avery Bradley scored a team-high 22 points as Boston's three-game win streak came to an end in the team's first matchup against Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
"They played great tonight. Played really hard, really together," Stevens said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do."
Rivers coached the Celtics to the championship in their first season after Garnett and Ray Allen joined Pierce. Allen left as a free agent for Miami before last season, and Garnett and Pierce were traded before this season to the Nets.
The Celtics' makeover has been so thorough that only seven of their 14 players were on the team that Rivers coached last season. And one of the holdovers, point guard Rajon Rondo, hasn't played all season while recovering from ligament surgery on his left knee.
Instead, Boston has been led largely by the trio of Jeff Green (16.7 points per game), Jordan Crawford (14.0) and Bradley (13.5), who are a combined 36 years younger than Pierce, Allen and Garnett.
The depth of Rivers' roster in Los Angeles has been threatened lately with injuries to J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes and Reggie Bullock. The Clippers signed veteran Stephen Jackson on Tuesday night to try to compensate, and he's expected to be available for Wednesday's contest.
Jackson, who will be playing for his eighth team, averaged 6.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in 55 games for San Antonio last season.
Chris Paul is averaging 8.7 points on 18.8 percent shooting over his last three games against Boston, which has won four of five at home in the series.