Camp fire: Green back on the floor
WALTHAM, Mass. -- A handful of quick hits after the Celtics engaged in their first practice of the 2012-13 season on Saturday morning at the team's training center:
* Focus on Green, Wilcox: Not surprisingly, there's a heavy focus being paid to the conditioning of Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox early in camp. Green missed all of last season while undergoing surgery for an aortic aneurysm, while Wilcox missed the final three months with an enlarged aorta. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was particularly complimentary of Green's preseason shape, noting, "Jeff looked great. Actually, he had one of the better practices and I thought his conditioning was phenomenal." Later, Rivers added: "Jeff is just as healthy as everybody else. He has no restrictions or anything like that -- him or Chris. Chris we have to remember had [surgery] three or four months after Jeff, so he would be the one that, if we’re going to worry about someone, it would be him. But neither one of them have any restrictions, they are fine."
* Green can't hide his joy: We'll have more on Green later in the day on ESPN Boston, but here's a sampling of his emotional first day back on the court: "I was trying not to smile too much during practice," he said. "I had to keep a straight face. I mean, it's hard. I let some emotions go, telling all the players that I'm happy to be back, just encouraging them. Just talking a lot for no reason, because I was just glad to be back on the floor."
* Lee with first unit: In the brief 5-on-5 work reporters saw at the end of practice, Courtney Lee was running with the first unit. Asked about his continuity with the four returning starters, Rajon Rondo said, "I kinda confused [Lee] a little bit, I was calling a bunch of different [plays]. But I told him where to go and he picked it up pretty quickly." Lee produced a defensive gem in front of reporters (see the video embedded above), swatting a Jason Terry pull-up jumper as the Celtics worked on situational late-game work (the starters were up two in the final seconds and Terry's jumper could have tied the game).
* Early returns: Bench is mobbed: The Celtics have high hopes for their second unit, but Day 1 wasn't an overwhelming success. Said Rivers: "I like our bench -- not today, they didn't perform very well against the starters, but I will like our bench." During the portion open to reporters, the Celtics worked with a second-unit lineup that featured Jason Terry, Jamar Smith, Kris Joseph, Jeff Green and Darko Milicic. Green later noted he spent most of his time at the 3 and that Chris Wilcox spent the majority of time at power forward. After the session, the bench met as a whole for post-practice work.
* Progress reports: Rivers hesitated to offer much in the way of analysis given that the team was on the floor for just the first time this morning. Asked about how Milicic looked, Rivers said, "Oh, I don’t know. It’s too early. One day. He had good moments, he also had moments like everyone else. I'm not going to even think about judging anybody after one day. [Milicic] has size, he has skill in a lot of areas, so I think he can help us."
* Rondo's room for improvement: Asked what he's looking to improve on this season, Rondo pointed to two areas in particular: limiting his turnovers and being more aggressive going to the rim. Despite the leaps he's made each season in the NBA, Rondo remains adamant that there's still room to grow. Off the court, it's impossible to ignore the strides he's made already as a team leader.
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