WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston's veteran players indulged in a weekend away from the practice floor -- a luxury this time of year -- and raved about the benefits as the Celtics returned to full-squad activity on Monday.
As Kevin Garnett summed up succinctly: "Days off are good; they are always good."
Garnett, Paul Piece, and Jason Terry -- members of the team's 35+ club -- were all present on Sunday, but didn't have to go through on-court work. Even coach Doc Rivers escaped to Maine to watch eldest son, Jeremiah, play for the Maine Red Claws.
A full squad of 12 bodies -- minus only the rehab club of 21st birthday boy Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo, and Fab Melo on assignment in the D-League -- were back on the floor for Monday's session with a road back-to-back looming Tuesday (Philadelphia) and Wednesday (Indiana).
"It's a fine balance and I think [coach] Doc [Rivers] understands, especially with the older guys, who've got a lot more miles under their belt that know the things you need to do, even on the off days and coming back here the next day to practice and be ready," said Pierce, who noted he got in light shooting and some weight work on Sunday. "We've practiced so many times, we've played so many games at this point, you should be in a good enough rhythm, you should know when to get your rest and when to get in the gym, and I think as veterans we understand that, so it doesn't bother us to have a couple days of rest."
But on Monday, it was time to punch the clock again.
"[Practices are] very important. When you’re gaining chemistry and you’re gaining timing and everything, new guys coming in, you need these practices," said Garnett. "Although, I will say days off are great, practices are essential."
Read on for a few more notes from pre-practice access before Monday's session:
* A MINOR DIVERSION: With Maine's home schedule winding down (and Boston's playoff push ramping up), Rivers took full advantage by sneaking in a chance to see Jeremiah play (hey, it's closer than when he was in Serbia). "It was a good day, it was fun," said Rivers. "Just went up, watched the Red Claws, watched Jeremiah play. It was really a neat atmosphere up there. You could see that that community supports their team, they do the same thing with the Red Sox [Double-A] farm team and it’s really a good venue." Asked if he was scouting any of Maine's players, Rivers said he probably should of, but got caught up just being a father -- and a fan -- for a day.
* NOT AWARE OF STANDINGS: The Celtics entered Monday a mere two games out of the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, behind a cluster of Atlanta, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Is Rivers aware of how close his team is to wiggling up to a potential home playoff series? "Well, your answer is I didn’t know that until right now -- that would be your answer," said Rivers. "I don’t [look at the standings]. I guess I should at times, but I really don’t. I just think every game right now is important. So I have a single-game focus, instead of the whole picture, right now for us. I think it’s a better place for this team to be. And that’s probably the way I’ll stay. I just don’t like looking at the standings a lot. It makes you look ahead, and I don’t like doing that."
* STAR SEARCH: When a reporter suggested that the Celtics' roster was essentially set for the season -- Shavlik Randolph and DJ White remain on 10-day deals with potential to be extended -- Rivers playfully interrupted and cracked, "There’s no other league ending, that we can go out and get a new player?" The Celtics currently have three former members of the Chinese Basketball Association on their roster. Expect to see Terrence Williams and at least one of those bigs on the floor as part of the upcoming back-to-back as Rivers suggested he'll loosen up the rotation a bit.