BOSTON — No matter where the Celtics have been lately, coach Brad Stevens has been peppered with questions related to emotions - something he shows very little of most of the time.
And so following Boston's 96-88 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers - coached by his predecessor in Boston, Doc Rivers - Stevens was again asked about where he was at in the emotionally-charged environment of the TD Garden.
As far as there being more emotion heading into the game than usual, Stevens said, "I honestly couldn't [tell]. I'd be making it up if I said I could. So no, I could not."
Stevens knew that the focus Wednesday night was going to be primarily on Rivers, who spent nine seasons as the Celtics coach and led the team to an NBA title in 2008.
And like the masses at the not-quite-sold-out TD Garden, Stevens also paid his respects to the job done by Rivers, as folks gave Rivers a standing ovation - Stevens included - during the video tribute to start the second quarter.
"I respect a good coach and I'm appreciative of the opportunity that I have and I'm appreciative of the time he spent here," Stevens said. "I don't know him very well, but I admire what he's accomplished and everyone else was up and I should have been up, too."
It was certainly one of the more feel-good moments on a night when the Celtics didn't quite play their best basketball, especially in the second half.
And with that, we have the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from the loss, which was the second in a row for the Celtics (10-14).
Boston's 6-foot-8 power forward more than held his own against Blake Griffin, finishing with his second double-double of the season with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Celtics fans showed a lot of class on Wednesday as they gave Doc Rivers a well-deserved round of applause when he was introduced prior to the game, as well as a standing ovation during the video tribute to him at the start of the second quarter. At the time of the video, Rivers was emotional. And after the game, his eyes welled up when discussing the tribute.
"Yeah, it was ... I'm still emotional," he said. "This is, it's just such a classy place here. It's an amazing fan base. It really is."
Boston couldn't keep the Clippers out of the lane all night, resulting in a decisive 42-24 points in the paint margin in favor of the Clippers.
Several factors played a role in the loss, but it's hard to argue that the scoring by the respective second units was a major contributor to the game's outcome.
Boston's second unit scored just four points while the Clippers' backups had 34, 21 of which was scored by former Sixth Man of the Year award winner Jamal Crawford.