BOSTON — The post-Doc Rivers era was supposed to be the Dark Ages for the Boston Celtics.
When Rivers departed Boston in June of 2013 and stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett followed suit shortly thereafter, most in Celtics-land accepted it probably would be years before their team even sniffed the playoffs again.
New head coach Brad Stevens has engineered a stunning turnaround on Causeway Street, however. The Celtics are by no means a title contender, but in just his second season at the helm, Stevens has folks in Boston again thinking postseason.
Rivers, now the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, couldn’t be happier to see the relative success his former club is enjoying.
“I think he’s done a great job,” Rivers said before Sunday’s 119-106 Clippers win over the Celtics at TD Garden, “especially when you factor in all the moves they make, and yet they still play the same, they still win. The fact that they have a shot to get into the playoffs is amazing. It’s awesome.”
Stevens reciprocated his predecessor’s praise.
“I obviously have an enormous amount of respect for him,” the Celtics coach said. “I think he is a great coach — one of the best coaches I’ve seen. He obviously had a great run here.
“He said nothing but great things about Boston. He said nothing but great things about the ownership. He said nothing but great things about Danny (Ainge) and his staff. I mean, he really appreciated everybody around here.”
The Celtics’ core of promising young players have allowed the team to withstand the losses of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, and their treasure trove of draft picks (including the first-rounder netted in the rare coaching trade that sent Rivers to L.A.) gives president of basketball operations Danny Ainge plenty of bargaining chips in his ongoing effort to woo another KG-level star to Boston.
“I don’t know if I expected or didn’t, I just think they’re ahead of all the other ‘rebuild’ teams because of all the things they have,” Rivers said. “When you look at their team, they have good players. They have assets in players and youth, they have draft picks and they have money. A lot of teams have one of those; none of the teams have all of those. I think Danny, what does he have, 1,200 draft picks over the next three years? Plus the players and plus the money, I think they’re set up to be pretty good, pretty quick.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images