Practice report: C's staying sharp
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics went through a two-hour practice session Thursday afternoon and, while it's a slow crawl to Tuesday's season-opener in Miami, coach Doc Rivers likes the extra time to get his team ready for the entire 2012-13 season.
"I think we’re ready, honestly, I just think we have to keep sharp," said Rivers. "I don’t ever know what that is, being ready for opening day. I think you want to get ready for the whole season and get better as the season goes on. I don’t know where we are at for the first game, or second game -- I think time will tell that. I like this team a lot; I think we’re going to keep getting better. I don’t know how we’re going to start out -- I’m hoping very well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it took longer."
The Celtics are stuck somewhere between being anxious to start the real games and willing to use every minute of practice time to fine-tune at both ends of the court.
"I figure if we had to play today, we’re prepared to play," said Kevin Garnett. "I don’t think anyone’s as sharp as they want to be right now. Obviously, we have the time to be better and that’s what we’re doing. We’re taking advantage of the time that we do have and practice. I like us right now. Can we get better? Absolutely. I think all teams would say that."
Added captain Paul Pierce: "I mean, it is what it is -- nothing we can do about it. At this point, we need to make sure we sharpen up our tools right now. We had a little bit of inconsistency in the preseason, so this is a good time for us to get a full week of practice and go over our stuff so we make sure we're sharp on Day 1."
Rivers is trying to prevent practice burnout by mixing up the length and tempo of the sessions.
"Doc has been great in our preparation," said Jason Terry. "We've worked a lot on our half-court sets, but today we went up and down a little bit. For us it's all about execution, whether it be defense or offense, and I think we have the best coach to prepare us in that manner."
Read on for a handful of other notes from Thursday's session:
* Terry was one of the final players off the court, spending an extended post-practice session shooting beyond the arc. Some overtime? Hardly. "No, it's every day for me," said Terry. "Usually I do it at night. I got a little appointment tonight, so I won't be able to be here, so I had to do it when I could. Just fine-tuning, just working on the basics, fundamentals, footwork, and making shots." Terry stopped at times to bark out some frustration when his shots weren't falling. He takes his post-practice work very seriously.
* The Celtics spent all of Wednesday's three-hour session working in half-court sets, and closed Thursday's practice the same way. Players typically prefer full-court, 5-on-5 work that better simulates game action, but Pierce wasn't second-guessing Rivers. "I like it all. Whatever's going to make us better," he said. "At this point, if we go half-court for most of the day, it's whatever's going to make us better, day in and day out. Coach is going to determine that and I'm just here to go as hard as I can and try to get better every day."
* Depth has been a hot topic around the Celtics and, despite a stocked roster this season, Rivers has actually cautioned against making too much of Boston's overall depth. "It’s still a 5-on-5 game," said Rivers. "I was laughing, if we could play 10-on-10, we would beat everybody. But you can’t do that, it's five at a time on the floor." Rivers did admit his team is better suited to withstand bumps and bruises with the added depth this season.
* Rivers said he wouldn't be afraid to toss Chris Wilcox into a game situation even though the veteran forward/center has missed most of camp and all eight of the team's exhibition games. "At the end of the day, we still trust him on defense, we still trust him on the glass, [and we] still trust him as far as running the floor," said Rivers. "So I wouldn’t hesitate to put him out in the game. At all."
* The Celtics closed the practice session with some short-clock ATO (after timeout) sets for a rotating first unit (first with Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass alongside the new Big Three; then with Terry and Jeff Green). Rondo and Green connected on a backdoor alley-oop from a near-half-court sideout, while Garnett capped the day by making a fadeaway jumper over a charging Darko Milicic (off a feed from a driving Bass). Asked about the work, Rivers noted: "That's the first time we’ve run them with different groups. What I learned is I don’t want white [second unit] defending at the end of the game. They gave up wide-open dunks. I hope we would have a different group, because that was not very good. I can say that."
* Bass and Lee engaged in their own little shooting competition after Thursday's practice. While Bass admitted Lee won the 3-point portion, he was impressed by his own ability to make it interesting. Bass declared himself the overall winner of the competition, but Lee washed away the sting of defeat by producing some dunk-contest-worthy jams before leaving the court.
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