Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire
The Celtics are hoping to get more out of Keyon Dooling, Avery Bradley, and their bench.WALTHAM, Mass. -- While the Celtics' veterans enjoyed a full weekend to themselves, Boston's reserves reconvened in the gym on Sunday with members of the coaching staff to work on offensive and defensive sets and implement new plays, all while building chemistry and continuity that will be crucial for the Celtics moving forward.
"We worked on everything," Chris Wilcox said after practice at the Celtics Training Center at HealthPoint on Monday. "We worked on our chemistry, our game timing, and we just went hard. We played a couple of games to get our bodies right, get our chemistry down -- it was a good workout yesterday."
"We had 10 to play, and we came in, we played hard, and we got after it. And I think it kind of turned over to today. We had a good practice today, the second unit's starting to get [its] chemistry back, and it was good for us."
That coveted chemistry has been difficult to develop for a bench that hasn't played a significant number of minutes together as a unit, separate from the starters. Celtics coach Doc Rivers -- whether due to injuries, foul trouble, early deficits or just personal choice -- has so far elected to keep one of his starters intermingled with the bench brigade through much of the first eight games of the season. According to Basketball Value, the Celtics' most frequently used all-reserve unit this season, consisting of Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox, has logged a shade under seven total minutes of court time.
It's no wonder chemistry is a primary focus for the group.
"We're just trying to build some continuity, build some trust, build some cohesiveness as a unit," Dooling said. "Right now, we haven't had a lot of practice time, so we needed that. [Sunday] was good for us from a conditioning standpoint as well as just from a continuity standpoint."
Dooling said the reserves spent time going over defensive principles, but the unit's offensive production was the chief concern. Without a surefire go-to player in the second unit (though Bass has shouldered that load and Mickael Pietrus is nearing his debut), there's more of an onus on devising plays that stress ball movement and incorporating all five players. Dooling said those types of plays were implemented on Sunday.
"We're trying to find something that works for our unit," Dooling said. "I think we came up with a couple of good plays [Sunday] that'll be conducive for the unit that we have."
Dooling also had a chance to work on his own offensive output and to better assert himself among his bench counterparts. So far this season, Dooling is attempting less than two field goals per game, which has resulted in the Celtics' coaching staff urging him to be more aggressive on the offensive end.
"In order for our unit to be productive, I have to be a little bit more aggressive offensively," Dooling said. "I think it was just a bit of a learning curve, trying to fit in, trying to play with our guys, as a new guy, and I think our group needs me to be a little more aggressive offensively."
The extra session also was beneficial for Wilcox, whose production and development with the Celtics was set back due to a left shoulder injury he suffered against the Miami Heat last month. With practice being limited with the condensed game schedule, Wilcox was eager to take advantage of the extra time on Sunday, and he carried that into Monday's lengthy, and productive, session.
"I needed this," Wilcox said. "The only time I got a chance to play was really in the games, and practice [Sunday and Monday] really helped me out to see where I was really at."