BOSTON — Doc Rivers knows what it takes to win at the highest level with the Boston Celtics.

The 2008 NBA champion has watched this season in a renewed role, joining the “NBA on ESPN” broadcast team. The job has allowed Rivers to take a deeper look at the Celtics and see a strong start from his former squad.

The Celtics have burst out of the gates to start the regular season, most recently with a victory in the group stage of the NBA In-Season Tournament. With new additions to help Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, Boston is thriving with second-year head coach Joe Mazzulla.

“Love them, I think Joe is doing a terrific job,” Rivers told “I think they’re better off with what Brad (Stevens) did this summer. After he did the Holiday trade, I said, ‘Holy goodness.’ A lot of people stayed pat. They went to the finals two years ago. Last year, they were in the Eastern Finals. A lot of franchises stayed pat and think that’s enough. I love it. Adding Porzingis and Holiday to me were just fantastic fits.”

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After getting to coach against the Celtics last postseason during his tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers, Rivers formed a relationship with Mazzulla and has been impressed with the growth of the second-year Celtics head coach.

“He’s more confident,” Rivers added. “He didn’t come in in a traditional way. That was brutally hard. … He didn’t know he was going to be the head coach the entire summer and then he’s thrown into a championship-level basketball team. Yet, he did a heck of a job. Now, he knows that one year was great for him. This year, you’ll see great things.”

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The Celtics have had success in recent years, no doubt. Boston has gone to the conference finals in four of the last six seasons and went to the NBA Finals in 2022. Boston is now a perennial contender that looks to break through and win the franchise’s first title since 2008, which came with Rivers at the helm. So far, the former head coach believes the Celtics have made the right moves to get that boost to glory.

“People think winning is easy,” Rivers explained. “Winning is hard. Winning (a championship) is even harder. They’ve done a lot of winning. They’ve just never been a winner. That’s the next step. Getting to the Finals absolutely had an impact on Tatum and Brown. You can see it. You can feel it. Now, they have the veterans. Holiday has won and knows what it takes. Porzingis is new to all of this. He’s new to winning.”

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Two of Rivers’ former teams square off on Friday when the 76ers visit the Celtics with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.

Tune in to NESN on Tuesday, Dec. 12 for the premiere of “The Tradition 2023.”

Featured image via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images