Practice report: Memory lane violation

May, 21, 2010
5/21/10
3:33
PM ET
WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics practiced Friday afternoon at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint:

The rundown (a quick look at practice headlines)
* C's won't get whistled for traveling down memory lane
* Boston can't lean on 'poor practice' excuse in Game 3 letdown
* Loose balls: Bring on Barnes; Home sweet home for C's

C's won't get whistled for traveling down memory lane



The Celtics might as well have been pumping Luther Vandross' "Here and Now" through their practice facility Friday, because that's all the team cares to discuss at the moment.

Oh, you'd like to look ahead to a potential Celtics-Lakers clash in the NBA Finals? Not happening. You want to flashback to 2008 and wonder how that team stacks up against the 2010 version? Put your question on layaway for at least two more weeks.

"You guys ask me these questions about 2008, there's no comparison in the teams," said captain Paul Pierce. "You guys want to make them similar, make them different, make them better. That's a completely different year. New players are trying to develop our own identity. Whatever happened then, it's not the same, man. We're trying to develop our own identity by winning a championship.

"There's definitely similarities in some of the players, but we added new players, and the road is a lot different. You talk about comparisons, it's different. The only way to talk about this is if we win a championship, then you can ask me. Then I'll be able to tell you better."

Pierce indulged in the tiniest of comparisons, but only to stress how difficult it's been for Boston to get to this point.

"It's a little more challenging, going on the road so much in the second and third round," he said. "We played the three hottest teams coming into the playoffs, so it's definitely more challenging. Even though we went seven games [with Atlanta in the first round of 2008], mentally it's a lot tougher."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers likewise tried to steer clear of comparisons, but admitted the road to this point has indeed been different.

"This one seems to have gone quicker, in some ways, because the Miami series went so quick for us," said Rivers. "The preparation time, more than anything else, but it's not that big of a difference. There's been more rest in between games, because in 2008 we went seven [games vs. Atlanta] and seven [games vs. Cleveland]. We were leaving a series and going into another. The prep time was shorter."

Rivers said the abundance of time this postseason is probably a bad thing for his assistants. "I'm probably driving my staff crazy," he said. "Because the more film you watch, the more things you see, and you gotta kinda cut off the temptation to change."

Boston can't lean on 'poor practice' excuse in Game 3 letdown



Locked in on the Magic and Game 3, the Celtics continued to stress Friday that they are avoiding all the pitfalls that plagued them the last time they enjoyed three full offdays and summarily got trounced by the Cavaliers, 124-95, in Game 3 of a conference semifinal series two weeks ago at the Garden.

"[Practice] has been really good for us, you can see the sweat on my jersey," joked Pierce. "It was a good practice to come in, sharpen up. This is not a team to rest on its laurels. We got a 2-0 lead with homecourt, but we don't look at it like that. We look at this as a must-win game."

Whether players and coaches are simply recycling cliches remains to be seen, but they do appear genuine in their insistence that they remained honed in on the task at hand.

"We definitely did learn some things from what we've been through," said Pierce. "We didn't take practice for granted, we made sure we stayed sharp the last two days. We have a 2-0 lead, but we still gotta win four games."

Rivers acknowledged the past two days have been solid sessions, but said that's no guarantee for gameday success

"They have been good practices, so that won't be an excuse," said Rivers. "We had a shorter practice [Thursday] and a little longer [Friday]. I think we'll be ready.

"Their focus is better. I hope they learned their lesson. [Losing 124-95 to Cleveland is] something they should remember."

Unlike against the Cavaliers, the Celtics do know that Orlando absolutely must come out swinging and that should help them focus as well.

"They're going to come out with a lot of fight," said Kendrick Perkins. "We will too, though."

Loose balls: Bring on Barnes; Home sweet home for C's

* Bring on Barnes: Pierce on potentially being guarded by Orlando's Matt Barnes in Game 3: "It doesn't affect anything that I'm trying to do offensively when we play the Magic." Pierce is averaging 25 points per game, rekindling his offensive output after Orlando decided to put Vince Carter on him to start the series.

* One healthy change: Asked what's changed about the head coach from 2008 to 2010, Rivers jokingly noted: "Ten pounds, definitely. Maybe 15. That's about it."

* Home sweet home: More proof the Celtics don't want to talk about the past: Pierce was asked if Boston had overcome its regular-season struggles at the Garden. "We turned a lot of things around, so hopefully that continues in the playoffs, but we're playing well right now at home. We've lost one game. We're not really worried about that. We don't think about what happened before, man. We're trying to stay on point with what's happening right now, not what's going to happen tomorrow or yesterday. Yesterday already happened and tomorrow is going to come. It is what it is. We feel like a confident team at home right now."

* Perk set for ink job: Numerous outlets were quizzing both Rivers and Perkins about his development -- due in large part to his solid play against Dwight Howard, and in the playoffs as a whole -- and Boston's center will likely see some expansive stories on himself in publications, both local and national, soon enough. But one of the more interesting things Perkins said was that it took him about three years before he truly felt comfortable on an NBA court and it was his battles with Howard that might have actually given him the biggest confidence boost. "At least three years to just go out there and not worry about who I'm going against," said Perkins. "To just compete every night took a couple years."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9