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Boston Celtics

Rivers returns to Boston as coach of Clippers

  • Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reacts during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 88-82. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reacts during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 88-82. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens directs his team against the New York Knicks during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in New York. The Celtics won 114-73.  (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

    Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens directs his team against the New York Knicks during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in New York. The Celtics won 114-73. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

  • FILE - In this file photo made Feb. 1, 2013, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gestures towards an official during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Boston. A Celtics official told The Associated Press, Sunday, June 23, 2013, that a deal to allow Rivers to coach the Los Angeles Clippers has been agreed to. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was contingent on NBA approval and negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers over a new contract. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)

    FILE - In this file photo made Feb. 1, 2013, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gestures towards an official during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Boston. A Celtics official told The Associated Press, Sunday, June 23, 2013, that a deal to allow Rivers to coach the Los Angeles Clippers has been agreed to. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was contingent on NBA approval and negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers over a new contract. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)

  • FILE - In this file photo made Feb. 1, 2013, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gestures towards an official during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Boston. A Celtics official told The Associated Press, Sunday, June 23, 2013, that a deal to allow Rivers to coach the Los Angeles Clippers has been agreed to. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was contingent on NBA approval and negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers over a new contract. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)

    FILE - In this file photo made Feb. 1, 2013, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gestures towards an official during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Boston. A Celtics official told The Associated Press, Sunday, June 23, 2013, that a deal to allow Rivers to coach the Los Angeles Clippers has been agreed to. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was contingent on NBA approval and negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers over a new contract. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)

  • Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reacts during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 88-82. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
  • Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens directs his team against the New York Knicks during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in New York. The Celtics won 114-73.  (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
  • FILE - In this file photo made Feb. 1, 2013, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gestures towards an official during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Boston. A Celtics official told The Associated Press, Sunday, June 23, 2013, that a deal to allow Rivers to coach the Los Angeles Clippers has been agreed to. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was contingent on NBA approval and negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers over a new contract. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)
  • FILE - In this file photo made Feb. 1, 2013, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gestures towards an official during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Boston. A Celtics official told The Associated Press, Sunday, June 23, 2013, that a deal to allow Rivers to coach the Los Angeles Clippers has been agreed to. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was contingent on NBA approval and negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers over a new contract. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)

BOSTON – The building will be familiar, the bench not so much.

Doc Rivers, coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, will be at TD Garden tonight, 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 2007-08 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 the New York Knicks, 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. His successor, Brad Stevens, has led the Celtics to the top of a weak Atlantic Division even though they have a losing record.

Rivers coached the Celtics to the championship in their first season after Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce. Allen left as a free agent for Miami before last season, and Garnett and Pierce were traded before this season to the Brooklyn Nets, who hosted the Celtics last night for the first time in the regular season. The Nets play in Boston on Jan. 26.

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.

But Rivers expects to see some familiar faces.

“The security guard, Don, who meets me at the door every time I come in,” he said. “It’ll be really nice for me. I made some great friends there, friends for life, and it will be good to see them.”

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