Boston Celtics

Rockets coach Ime Udoka reflects on return to Boston, biggest regret

Udoka is back in Boston, this time as head coach of the Rockets.

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Ime Udoka is back in Boston for his first game at TD Garden since Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

He was suspended by the Celtics in September of 2022 for violating team rules and was eventually dismissed. After not coaching in the 2022-23 season, Udoka was hired by the Houston Rockets last April to be their next head coach.

Udoka, who spent one season (2021-22) as C's head coach, was asked in a press conference before Saturday's game about his time in Boston and his biggest regret.

"I talked about it, obviously when it happened and obviously in my press conference leading up to Houston. But job not finished," Udoka said. "The relationships you build and the people you impact. So that'd be the biggest thing. Formed a lot of relationships within a year and obviously want to get a chance to run it back with a group you feel you can build and grow with.

"So, letting people down. I talked about the players, the relationships I built with them, the coaches that came with me, and then everybody else that was impacted by it. So for me that's the biggest thing I would say overall is letting some people down, for sure. But we've talked it out and I've seen a lot of these people throughout the summer and talk regularly and so we move past it."

The Rockets enter Saturday's game with a 19-18 record, good for ninth place in the Western Conference standings. Making the play-in tournament, or the playoffs itself, would be a great accomplishment for the Rockets considering the lack of experience on their roster. They have a lot of good young players after picking high in the draft several times in recent years.

The Celtics have done very well under head coach Joe Mazzulla, who initially took over for Udoka on an interim basis and was named permanent head coach in February of 2023. Boston has the NBA's best record at 29-9, which is three games ahead of the second-place Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference.

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