WALTHAM, Mass. -- The buzzword at Celtics practice on Monday afternoon was "concern" as coach Doc Rivers and his players were asked to gauge the uneasiness level after a 1-2 start to the season. Rivers, in fact, used the word "concern" seven times in answering 12 questions from reporters, but it was almost always in the context of he's not overly concerned about the areas affecting his team's slow start.
Rivers did admit that his team is not operating at the level neither he nor his players expected at this point, particularly after all the offseason work together.
"[The team is] probably behind," Rivers said when asked about the team's overall progress. "We have a great first half in Washington, that is what we needed to see. But I didn’t think we sustained it. I just think everyone is starting to figure out that, to be a good team, you have to actually work at it. And it’s hard work. You just don't show up because you have good names on a piece of paper and become good. You have to work at it, and you have to work hard at it. And it’s exhausting."
Rivers put his team through a spirited two-hour session that closed with conditioning drills as part of 5-on-5 work. Rivers wants to see better conditioning from his team, particularly after how the team seemed a bit fatigued down the stretch of Saturday's game in Washington (nearly allowing the Wizards to rally back in the second half).
A handful of nuggets from the session:
* Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger spent some time after practice working on pick-and-roll options in skeleton offense. Sullinger drew his first start Saturday and played well enough to consider more reps at the power forward spot against teams with bigger lineups.
* Brandon Bass, who shifted to the reserve group with Sullinger starting in Washington, continues to stress that he's fine with whatever role he's asked to perform. "That's life, man," said Bass. "You wake up, you don't know what to expect. Sometimes it'll be like that. You've just got to make the best of it."
* Courtney Lee was upset with himself after missing multiple open shots in Saturday's game. Rivers chalked those struggles up to not being used to having such good looks. "Courtney will make shots," said Rivers. "We were talking after the game -- he was upset at how many wide-open shots he missed, he’s just not used to getting that many. He just has to be a ready shooter."
* What did Boston do well in the first half against the Wizards? "I thought we played defense, we got into the ball, there was ball pressure, there was talking," said Rivers. "The first seven or eight minutes, [Washington] struggled to get a shot off, let alone score a basket. Then as the game went on, you can see us slowly moving away from it. I don’t know if that’s breaking old habits from other places, or if that’s conditioning. When you watch it on film, you think it’s a little bit of both."
* Jason Terry said this team won't be satisfied by just getting a win, regardless of how much Boston simply needed a W in Washington. "That was big for us, but sometimes it's not even about the end result," he said. "Again, we're looking at trying to play 48 minutes of Celtics basketball. And if that results into a win, which the majority of the time it should, we like it. But if we go out there and play a game like [in Washington], where we had a 25-point lead, they come back, we have to close them out in a tough, grind-out game, and we get the win -- we like the result, but, again, the way we got it, we think we're much better than that."
* Players had a mandatory post-practice meeting and most used the opportunity to hustle off after the session. The Celtics are back on the practice floor Tuesday before completing the home-and-home with the Wizards on Wednesday night at TD Garden.