WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the Boston Celtics signed Jason Terry, coach Doc Rivers implored the now 35-year-old guard to change something about his routine, shake things up a bit coming to a new team. Terry decided to try and embrace practice more.
"Doc told me before I came here, 'Do something different. Change your habits,'" explained Terry. "My habit coming to this team was that I hated practice. I’ve grown to love it over the last month. It’s challenging, it’s competitive. And it brings out the best in you every day."
That newfound love is getting a true test this week. The Celtics are in the middle of six consecutive days of practice ramping up to Tuesday's season-opener in Miami. After going through an extended shooting routine after a 95-minute session on Friday, a sweat-covered Terry admitted practice is sometimes a love/hate relationship.
"I’m tired of guarding [Rajon] Rondo, I’ll tell you that," said Terry. "He’s wearing me out right now. I don’t know if it’s the scheme or what we’re doing, but he’s definitely worked on his game and he’s made it tough on me, boy. When you’re a veteran and you’ve been in this game 14 years, you definitely don’t want to be chasing around a 26-year-old all training camp. But it’s been fun, it’s been a challenge."
Terry lauded Rivers' ability to mix things up in practice and turn mundane drills into competitive situations, allowing Terry and his teammates to embrace non-game situations. That said, Terry admits the Celtics are ready for game action, adding: "We’re tired of beating up on each other, and we can’t wait to get somebody else in those other jerseys."
Added Rivers: "The whole team, they’re sick of me and they are sick of each other. But unless [reporters] want to suit up and play against them, I don’t know what we’re going to do about that. It’s just the way it is. It’s hard in practices, because they know exactly what you’re running. So it gets frustrating, when you call a play and the guy's playing the play. Another guy gets upset at it and says, ‘You know what we’re running.’ You still gotta score or stop it."
* C'S NOT FOCUSED ON ALLEN: Asked if his players could potentially be too amped for opening night, Rivers said that was fine, so long as all that energy isn't focused on an ex-teammate.
"I don’t think it’s Ray, honestly, I think it’d be more the Heat," said Rivers. "There may be several guys who want to play against Ray, and Ray may want to play against several guys. This is not going to be a Ray-versus-the-Celtics game. If it becomes that, we’re going to lose that by a lot of points. Because as good as Ray is, I know of two or three guys that are a lot better than Ray on that team. If we’re focusing on Ray, we’re going to lose by 40."
On the heels of Jackie MacMullan's story on Allen, Rivers was asked if he made an effort to contact Allen this summer before he decided to sign with the Heat.
"I tried," said Rivers. "Guys, I’m not going to get into Ray Allen. Like I said yesterday, Ray was great here. If Ray wants to talk, we’re just going to let Ray keep talking. That will probably be better for all of us."
* SULLINGER READY FOR ANY ROLE: Rivers has indicated that he will use rookie Jared Sullinger in a starring role at times this season (though the power forward duties on opening night are more likely to fall to Brandon Bass). Sullinger is taking it all in stride and acknowledging that he's got plenty of work ahead of him. He's comfortable with being a role player after growing up with a spotlight on him.
"It's different. It's definitely different," said Sullinger. "Like I said, coming from being the man, the go-to guy all these years, and now coming here, taking a backseat to some greats, it's only a humbling experience. At the same time, I've got to get better, so I'm learning every day, like I said."
And what might his role be at the start of the season?
"I could care less," said Sullinger. "We just want to win basketball games around here. So, wherever I'm at, I'm fine with it. I'm just trying to help the team win."
* WILCOX TRYING TO DETERMINE HIS ROLE: After missing most of training camp and all eight of Boston's preseason games, backup forward/center Chris Wilcox said he's simply trying to work his way back into the rotation.
"It's not really the conditioning part, it's just trying to get in where you fit in," said Wilcox, who battled back issues early in camp. "You've got to kind of get in and just try to find out what guys are used to. There's a lot of guys that I didn't really get a chance to play with last year, so now I'm just trying to get in, see what I need to do and where I need to be at on the court."
And what might that role entail?
"I kind of know. Basically, I've got to come back and do what I did last year: Run the floor, play defense, box out, rebound, and bring energy, and that's what I've got to do," he said. "So that's what I'm working on now."
* ROTATION LOOKS TIGHT: Rivers said that, despite the increased depth this season, he still plans to run with a 10- or maybe 11-man rotation early in the season. "We’re not going to go that deep," he said. "We’ll go the same. Early in the year, I play 10 guys, whether we have good 10 or not. Ten guys played last year, because you have to get through the season. It’ll be 10 this year, for the most part."
The Celtics will carry 15 players out of camp and it's likely that rookies Fab Melo and Kris Joseph will take up the end of the roster (spending time in the D-League at times). Avery Bradley (shoulders) is out to start the year, but that still leaves two spots that won't see much action if Rivers sticks with that 10-man plan. Jason Collins will be a situational player, but that still puts the onus on the likes of Wilcox or Leandro Barbosa to show they deserve consistent minutes.