Thursday, April 14, 2011
Practice: C's ease into postseason prep
By Chris Forsberg
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics eased their way into playoff preparation Thursday, planning to watch film for much of the afternoon, then get on the court for some light walkthrough work while installing their defensive game plan in advance of an Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup against the New York Knicks, which tips off Sunday night at TD Garden.
Coach Doc Rivers was simply excited to have three days to not only plan for the Knicks, but work on the things that have plagued his ball club as it stumbled to a 10-11 finish over the final 21 games of the season. The lack of practice time is something that Rivers believes contributed to his squad's inconsistent play over the final month of the regular season.
Here's a handful of news and notes from media access before the Celtics dove into their workload Thursday:
* Rivers reiterated his belief that reserve guard Delonte West will be on the floor for Sunday's Game 1. West aggravated a right ankle sprain Monday against the Wizards and sat out the regular-season finale Wednesday against the Knicks. While West appeared a bit glum while discussing the injury before Wednesday's game, Rivers offered nothing but optimism Thursday.
" I think he’ll be fine," said Rivers. "I don’t know that, but he’s walking [today] and his gait is normal. He said he could play today if there was a game, that's a good sign for us."
Rivers stressed the importance of West in the postseason.
"He's huge," said Rivers. "There's no second unit in the playoffs -- there's a first and a half unit, usually a combo of both [starter and reserves] on the floor. But he's big for us. He can play multiple positions in this series because of their guards and we need a guy like that."
* Celtics captain Paul Pierce said he's feeling good after sitting out the last two games, meaning he and Boston's veterans will have enjoyed nearly a full week off from last Sunday's loss in Miami (the last game the veterans appeared in) to this Sunday's Game 1 against the Knicks.
"It's good for the body," said Pierce. "Those little aches and pains, it's amazing, when you play so many games, the little injuries you get, you play through them. You get numb to them. Then you sit down for a couple games and those injuries go away. That's when you see the difference. I'm feeling pretty good right now."
* Kevin Garnett, a player that Boston typically can't keep off the court, echoed Pierce's sentiment that the extra time off has been a good thing.
"Rest is always good," said Garnett. "I'm not going to deny that. Rhythm-wise, you still want to play, so I've been doing the things that I normally do -- nothing out of the sequence of my everyday preparation. But rest is always good."
* Rivers said he could understand if fans were dissatisfied by Boston's up-and-down play over the final month of the season, but he's not losing any sleep over those that have jumped off the bandwagon.
"You're a fan or you're not," said Rivers. "So, no, [I don't understand fan frustration] would be the answer. There's nothing wrong with being disappointed with wins and losses, but we did make a lot of changes. That takes time. If you don't get that, I can't help you. If you want to jump, I'm not going to be there with you."