Rivers returns to Boston as coach of Clippers

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 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 on Tuesday night for the first time in the

regular season. The Nets play for the first time in Boston this

season 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.”