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MIAMI (AP) — Doc Rivers gave the Boston Celtics their first win of the offseason. Barring a change of heart, he’ll return to the sideline next season.
And it’s for a simple reason: He says the Celtics aren’t finished as NBA title-contenders.
Rivers’ status has been the source of speculation for some time, and the sense was that he may decide to take a break from coaching.
But after his team was ousted from the Eastern Conference semifinals by Miami in a 97-87 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday night, Rivers revealed that he “probably will” return.
Doc Rivers On His Probable Return Next Season
“I love the guys in that locker room,” Rivers said.
Rivers just completed his seventh season with the Celtics. He led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship, then back to the NBA finals again last season when they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I don’t believe this team is done,” Rivers said.
Inside the Celtics locker room, Rivers’ words provided some end-of-season consolation.
“I’m going to put this on the record,” point guard Rajon Rondo said. “Doc already committed that he was coming back with me so he can’t go back against his word. … We just signed a contract about 10 minutes ago.”
Forward Paul Pierce said Rivers is an important part of the Celtics’ plan.
“If we’re moving forward next year and try to win a championship, he’s one of the main pieces,” Pierce said.
The core of the Celtics is expected back as well, with Ray Allen saying after Game 5 that he doesn’t plan to go elsewhere. Unless something changes, the team that won 56 games this regular season will gear up in another quest to bring an 18th championship to Boston.
“I’ve kind of come to that over the last couple weeks,” Rivers said. “You know, I’m a Celtic. And I love our guys.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)