Friday, October 12, 2012
Camp fire: C's still focused on themselves
By Greg Payne
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics might be taking on their first NBA opponent of the preseason on Saturday night when they square off against the New York Knicks in Hartford, Conn., but coach Doc Rivers is still keeping the focus on his own team. The typical pregame preparations employed during the regular season were absent from Boston's practice session on Friday afternoon.
"It's preseason. I don't think we've mentioned the Knicks one time," said Rivers. "We'll talk about them a little bit tomorrow, since we're playing them. But, I'm more worried about us. If this was a regular season game, obviously today we would have went over their sets and all that, but this is preseason, so we're worried about us right now."
Though Boston hasn't prepped for New York in any significant way, Kevin Garnett noted that a sense of familiarity is already in place.
"We're familiar with the teams we're playing, personnel, coaching style, the rules. Those are some of the things that just come off the top," Garnett said of the differences of playing an NBA opponent versus a European one. "Obviously, overseas was a great experience for us, a great test to some of the things we've been working on in training camp. And, like you said, now it's time for what we know and being familiar with some of the things that we know.
"The things we're going to see, [we can] familiarize ourselves with some of the sets, some of the, obviously, styles of play, personnel. A lot of teams have changed as far as personnel, so from that standpoint, if you want to call that a test, sure."
Rivers said he hasn't settled on a starting lineup for Saturday's game, though he's begun discussions with his coaching staff. When the final minutes of practice were made available to the media, the Green Team, a.k.a. the starters, consisted of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett, so it's likely five of those six players will comprise Saturday's first unit. Rookie Jared Sullinger, who started in Boston's second game of the preseason against Armani Milano, was back in the white practice jersey worn by the reserves.
While the opening days of camp were dedicated to implementing the most basic of the team's sets, Rivers said the second and third weeks bring about a different focus.
"For us, offensive pace is something we've really focused on these last three days," Rivers explained. "Taking care of the ball. We've been doing a lot of turnover drills, which players don't like, but there's a certain amount of turnovers and there's running involved. So, offensively, those are the two things. And defensively, just working on getting everybody on the same page."
Other notes from Friday's session:
* There was no update on forward Chris Wilcox, who continues to recover from lower back spasms. Rivers said he hasn't asked about Wilcox, and likely won't until he's ready to return to the court.
* Bass on potentially coming off of the bench this season: "I have no comment on that question. No comment. We're going to keep getting better every day. We have to get better as a team, and I think Doc will make the best decision for the team."