BOSTON -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said that seeing his former players and longtime Boston Celtics staffers in the hallways at TD Garden before Wednesday's tilt with his former team was only making this first trip back a little bit more emotional.
He admits it might be hard to fight back those emotions when he is acknowledged by the fans during Wednesday's game.
"I’m an emotional guy," said Rivers. "You know me. I’ve been emotional my whole life. I’m not going to change now. I just hope I can coach the team tonight and get through it. Hell, I did a function here this summer and me and Jeff Twiss were sitting there and we both got water in the eyes. You don’t invest nine years in an organization or a town -- I fell in love with more than just the team here. This is a fantastic place to be. I’m not here anymore, and when I do come back, I remember everything. I remember walking the streets. So, yeah, [I expect to be emotional]."
"It’s harder to come back here," said Rivers. "Playing against them, I see them. It’s just two guys that I love in a Brooklyn uniform. Coming back here, that’s special, for me. I get to walk under a banner that I helped get and see the fans and see a lot of my friends. This day and a half has been a lot of fun, but it’s also been very emotional."
Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens reaffirmed that it's really just another game for him, but understands the emotions involved for Rivers, his former players, and the fans.
"The one thing I don’t think you can do is alter the world," said Stevens. "There are going to be emotions, so how emotional they get will be up to each of them, individually. I’m not going to be able to control that, necessarily. You certainly talk about what we have to do to be successful. What we have to do to play our best. That’s part of it. Every night there’s something in this league because of the relationship that guys have with former teammates [or] guys that played together in college, guys that played together as they grew up. There’s always a relationship across the benches. I think guys are used to that by now. The last two nights have been a big deal around here because of the people that were involved in each of these last two games."
A few more pregame notes:
HUMPHRIES (KNEE) OUT: Kris Humphries is out for Wednesday's game due to a bruised right knee.
OLYNYK (ANKLE) OUT AGAIN: Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk will miss his 10th straight game Wednesday due to a right ankle sprain. Said Stevens: "I thought at one point that he would be probable or at least close, but now I’m being told [he could return on] Friday [vs. the Knicks]. Hopefully that’s the case."
DEFENDING LOB CITY: Stevens noted that Los Angeles' frontcourt of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin play "like there are trampolines on the floor. They can get way above the rim. And if you left Jordan or Griffin get a running start, you’re dead. You have to meet those guys high in transition, you have to meet those guys high on rolls."
JACKSON WILL PLAY: Rivers noted that newly acquired Stephen Jackson will be thrown right into the fire given the Clippers injuries. "We signed him [Tuesday] and he’s literally going to play tonight," said Rivers. "And we’ll see how that goes."