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Sunday, December 11, 2011
Good work, if you can find it

By Chris Forsberg



WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics brought a trio of referees to practice the past two days. During the preseason, it's not uncommon to bring in officials to stress and reemphasize points of emphasis before a new season. But limited to less than 10 bodies each of the first three days, what do referees do when there's no 5-on-5 work to officiate?

"They get to eat breakfast and lunch," Celtics coach Doc Rivers deadpanned. "That’s all they’re doing -- eating all our food up. I told them in the middle of practice [Sunday] they can go and they go right into the dining room and go eat. We’re paying them to eat right now. Not a bad job."

The Celtics started the day with nine available players and had planned to engage in 5-on-5 work, likely by utilizing assistant coach Tyronn Lue as a 10th man. But when Rajon Rondo sprained his right ankle (Rivers said it's nothing major), the team audibled to more mundane drills yet again.

"We’re breaking everything down," Rivers said. "We’re doing a lot of 3-on-3, 2-on-2, 1-on-1. We did a ton of 3-on-3 work, breaking our offensive sets down. We did a lot of pick-and-roll defense with 4-on-4. You can still have a practice, the problem is, we haven’t had a scrimmage yet at all. Three days in a row now we’ve yet to go up and down with 5-on-5 with our players. As far as I’m concerned, that’s three days that we’ve missed already in camp."

Rivers glumly admitted that, once the remaining players are cleared (and the team is hoping that will happen Monday), he'll have to essentially hit the reset button on training camp.

"The first day we have camp is the day that we have everyone," Rivers said. "That’s the way, as far as I’m concerned. Right now, we haven’t started camp yet. We’re just doing preseason work."

With that in mind, the Celtics shuffled Monday's practice that was slated to begin at noon to 2 p.m., hoping a couple of hours will ensure at least a couple of additional bodies.

"We were going to go until 2 but if we did that, we’d probably guarantee not having enough guys," Rivers said. "So we changed it to [a 2 p.m. start] and we’re hoping that, being a Monday, hopefully we can get some more guys back."

Rivers said the lack of bodies has forced him to shorten practices as well, since there are no subs to allow for breaks.

"What’s difficult is, usually when you have 18 guys in camp, guys get rest during practice," he said. "If you go three hours, the guys don’t go all three hours. They can take a break here and there. There’s no breaks in this practice. Everyone who starts practice, finishes practice. They never take one break, they are on the floor the entire time. That’s been more difficult for us, we have to shorten drills, stop things."

All while the referees chow down.

"I don’t need that job," Rivers said with hands on stomach. "That's a terrible job for me."