BOSTON – The hype surrounding Doc Rivers’ return to the TD Garden did not match last season’s emotional tribute, but the Clippers head coach was happy to catch up with plenty of familiar faces from his days in Boston. Whether it was former players, broadcasters, Garden workers, or fans, everyone seemed happy to see Doc, at least before his Clippers blew the Celtics out of the water with a convincing 119-104 win.
Most coaches since just a few minutes before the game to field questions from the media, but Rivers happily spoke for over 15 minutes with reporters to talk primarily about his former team. There were a few trips around memory lane, an assessment of how Boston’s rebuild compares to the rest of the league, and a scouting report that no one could have expected.
Here are a few of Doc’s more notable remarks from the session.
On Brad Stevens: “I think he’s doing a great job, especially when you factor in all the moves they make and yet they still play the same. They are still winning. They still have a chance to get into the playoffs is amazing. It’s awesome.”
On the Celtic Rebuild: “I just think they are ahead of all the other rebuilding teams because of all the things they have. When you look at their team, they have good players. They have assets, players, youth, they have draft picks, and they have money.
“A lot of teams have one of those, none of the teams have all of them. I think Danny has 1,200 draft picks over the next two years, plus the players, plus the money, I think they are set up to be pretty good pretty quick.”
On the growth of Avery Bradley over last two years: “He’s just better. I think guys like Avery, a lot of guys, are so young when they come into the league and they just mature. He gets better. He was a great defender the day he walked into the building. I think he’s a great team defender and individual defender now, and his offensive game has grown.
“Offensively, he’s a tough guy to deal with every night. With us, he was learning that. The thing I still see him doing that I’m proud of, when I see him cutting without the ball…It was amazing how quickly he went from no cuts to getting layups every night. It clicked with him very quick”
On who Marcus Smart reminds him of: “He reminds me of me, a better version of me. I’m serious. I really mean that. I think a better version, and I’m not kidding. He is a defensive guard, but he can score. That’s the difference. Really, he’s a big guard. He’s not a pure point. He never really played point in college. He’s got a strong body. He’s tough. And he likes defense. He’s tough, like, he’s a really good defensive player.
“On the ball, off the ball, yet he’s making plays too offensively. I like him a lot. It’s rare for a young guard to play such good defense, Avery [Bradley] was a little like that. Marcus was a little different than that…watching him this summer, just watching you were thinking, woo, he’s going to be good.”
On his most emotional moment in Boston coming after winning the 2008 championship: “I don’t know if I was that emotional that night, though, when I think about it. I told our guys this: If I could do one thing over that night, I would have gone in the locker room. I never went in the locker room after the championship, which is the strangest thing. I don’t know why I didn’t. I walked into my office and I just sat there.”
On his kids joining the championship celebration: “It’s funny, when I see film of [the celebration] now, I see my kids — which is underage drinking [laughs] I see them jumping around with the champagne, especially the youngest one. I think he was like  — bad parenting [by me]. But I never went in [the locker room]. I don’t even know why. I couldn’t figure that one out.”