BOSTON — One of Doc Rivers' greatest strengths has always been his passion.
You see it in the way he communicates with his players.
You see it in the way that he rides officials when they make a call that isn't Rivers-approved.
But Wednesday night, he'll fight that passion in a way that he's never done before.
That's how it is when you return for the first time to place you called home for nearly a decade.
"It's gonna be a hard night," said Rivers, who spent the previous nine seasons as the Celtics coach. "I already told my coaches that it's just gonna be hard. You don't spend nine years in one place and win a title and have the emotions that you have towards the city and the fans and be normal when the game starts. It's just not gonna happen."
He added, "So, I've already prepared my coaches to be good coaches tonight because it's just gonna be too tough for me."
Fortunately for him, he brings in a Los Angeles Clippers team that's only more talented in paper than the Celtics, but they are the more rested team as well.
Boston is coming off a 104-96 loss at Brooklyn Tuesday night, while the Clippers rolled into town shortly after beating Philadelphia on Monday night.
Getting in town early allowed Rivers to make a handful of media rounds, in addition to having dinner with about a dozen of "my best buddies."
Rivers added, "it's been nice to be back. I loved it here obviously and it's just been nice to see new and old friends."
And while the feel-good vibe has been strong thus far, no one has any idea whether he'll get cheered, jeered or a combination of the two prior to tip-off.
"I'm sure there'll be some because they were booing when I coached," he said. "But no, I didn't do anything wrong. I decided to leave at some point. It should be all good. I had a good, wonderful time here. I have nothing but good things to say. That's for everybody else to expect the negative stuff."