Boston Celtics: Shootaround
Celtics coach Brad Stevens nearly made it through his morning briefing without being asked about the trade deadline before the subject sneaked in.
"I think I probably answered so boringly [about the deadline on Tuesday], this is the first [question] I’ve gotten [on it today]," joked Stevens. "I don’t have any real response. Like I said [Tuesday], I think the biggest things is you don’t really focus on things that aren’t there. Right now, our team is right here, they are right in front of me. And I don’t want to speculate or live in a world of speculation. I want to live in the world that exists at this moment, and go from there."
"I understand it’s a great storyline, so it’s a great thing to talk about and it’s a great thing to have in the media. From my standpoint, I haven’t though two seconds about it. Because it’s not my job, nor is it anything that I’m concerned about from a standpoint of -- like I said yesterday, the team that we have, I like our locker room, I like the guys that are here. It is what it is."
As for Wednesday's game, Stevens confirmed Gerald Wallace will remain in the starting lineup with Avery Bradley (ankle) sidelined for this road trip. All 11 bodies the team has out west are expected to be available.
"The task is big enough, I’m just focused on that," Stevens said outside the Celtics' locker room at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday morning before his team's morning shootaround in advance of the season-opener against the Raptors. "I’m sure I’ll feel a little bit [of nerves] at the beginning of the game, but, no, it’s a typical shootaround before a game. Obviously, any time you play the first game of a season, there’s some anxiousness to get the season going, and I’m sure our guys feel that way -- and certainly coaches. Anybody involved in that would feel that way."
But the most important thing to Stevens at the moment is the 45 minutes he'll spend with his team on the floor trying to ensure they are ready for Toronto.
"We need 45 minutes this morning," said Stevens. "We’ll get [to the game] when we get there. And I think we’re all excited to get there. Every day when you play there’s a lot that leads up to it, a lot of studying that leads up to it. We still have a little bit of work to do before game time."
Stevens was asked what he wants to see from his team in shootaround.
"Focus. It’s not going to be a physical, taxing thing," said Stevens. "It’s going to be just focus, just readiness, you can see it in a team’s eyes when they are ready to play in a shootaround. I will say this: Some of the best teams I’ve coached had to go through an hour shootaround and some of them didn’t have to do anything -- you just find that out through the course of the year, you won’t know any of those answers until later on. You have to be flexible in your approach in this league, because you don’t get a lot of time, sometimes you don’t get a shootaround, you don’t get a walk-through. At the end of the day, it’s just about being ready yourself and making sure you’re as engaged in the opponent as possible."
One thing Stevens wouldn't tip his hand on: the starting 5.
"We’ll go through this, then we’ll figure it out," he said. "I’ll let you know before the game."
"We were pretty focused as far as going through our stuff today," Stevens said after Boston's late-morning session at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in advance of Tuesday's tilt with the Nets. "We want to do the best job we can and simulate what a game day would be like, but we’re just not there yet. It’s much more focused on us than it is on Brooklyn. Today was as crisp a 50 minutes as we’ve had."
Celtics players were in no hurry to leave the court, either. Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace, and MarShon Brooks were among a handful of players lingering on the court after the session, engaging in a long-distance shooting competitions. It was only the threat of the departing team bus -- with the team's travel and equipment manager John Connor joking that the players would have to catch cabs back to the hotel -- that brought the competition to an end.
The Celtics remained rather unemotional about tonight's game against the Nets, their first time seeing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the other side (Pierce is expected to play, but Garnett is scheduled to sit out with the Nets on the second night of a back-to-back).
Asked if he's thought about what it will be like to see his former teammates in their Nets uniforms, Celtics guard Avery Bradley said, "Not really. Just seeing them period. I think that’s going to be pretty cool. We’re still like a family and when you haven’t see your family all summer and you see them, you’re kinda excited, so I can’t wait to see them."
As for the players traded from the Nets to Boston, there were some odd feelings being back in the Barclays Center.
Said Kris Humphries, "I think it was weird being on the bus going down the elevator. I’ve never really been on the bus as a visitor. I’m getting used to it. I’ve been on a number of different teams. It just comes with the territory."
Does he have a new outlook after a frustrating season with the Nets last year?
"I think everything is a new opportunity," he said. "We’ll see how everything plays out. You know last year, started off a starter, didn’t see some time for a little bit, then worked back into the rotation. I think we went through a lot, just with the rotation, different things last year. It was a tough year I think for a lot of guys, just the flow of what we were doing. Not to dwell on the past, it’s all about where I’m at now, and what we’re working towards now."
NEW YORK -- More than 72 hours will have passed between the conclusion of Saturday's Game 1 and tipoff for Tuesday's Game 2 of an Eastern Conference first-round series between the Celtics and Knicks. Boston has spent much of that extended downtime focusing on all the self-inflicted mistakes that allowed New York to take an early series lead.
While the Celtics are not a team to reject extended rest, it's clear that players are eager to get back on the floor and clean up those miscues in the hopes of tying this series before it shifts back to Boston.
"We can’t turn the ball over, we gotta stay in transition, we have to space the floor, but bottom line is, offensively, we have to play better, obviously," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of his team's keys in Game 2. "I’m sure [the Knicks] are thinking the same way. A lot of our [errors] were self-inflicted, so we have to do a better job there."
The Celtics watched film Sunday and hit the practice floor on Monday. There's only so much players can do to ensure the same mistakes won't happen again.
"I don’t know how you work on turnovers," admitted Rivers, whose team gave the ball away 21 times during Saturday's loss. "We really just got back into doing what we do. We worked on execution a lot [Monday], and that’s something we’ve been doing for the last six weeks, really."
A few more notes and quotes from shootaround at Madison Square Garden:
• MUST-WIN GAME?: In every series, the team that loses the first game is swarmed with questions about the importance of Game 2 and avoiding a 2-0 hole. Is Tuesday a must-win game for the Celtics? "Every game is a must-win game," said Jeff Green. "It's the playoffs. That's the only way you move on is to win, so you go into every game thinking it's a must-win." After the Bulls, who are sharing the same New York hotel with Boston this week, evened their series with the host Nets on Monday night, Avery Bradley noted, "I feel like anybody would say it'll always be good to steal one of their home games away from them, just like Chicago last night. I'm pretty sure they were happy with that win, because it's always tougher playing away. So [the Knicks] probably feel like it's a must-win game because when they go to Boston it's going to be a little tougher."
• MSG MEMORIES: Rivers knows all too well that a 2-0 hole is not insurmountable. During the 1992-93 season, Rivers was part of a Knicks team that won 60 regular-season games; in the playoffs, the Knicks had a 2-0 series lead on the underdog Bulls. Chicago rallied to win the next four games, including a tight Game 5 in New York. Those aren't some of Rivers' fonder memories, but a friendly reminder of what's possible when a top seed holds serve at home.
• MORE BIG TALK: After leaning on a three-guard bench in Game 1, Rivers has hinted he'll add a big to the rotation on Tuesday. But he stressed that the game will dictate whether he sticks with that plan. Rivers had previously noted that he might go big only in the first half with the goal of simply driving down starter minutes to keep them fresh in the second half (Boston scored only eight points in the fourth quarter of Game 1). "It's really a game decision," said Rivers. "It’s easy to state it now; I don’t know what that does. So we'll kind of wait for the game to start, see how guys on our team are playing, and how their lineups are, and go from there."
Sunday's shootaround consisted of a brief film session and halfcourt walkthroughs of offensive and defensive sets.
The Celtics will be looking to tie the series at two games apiece when they face the Miami Heat at TD Garden Sunday night (8:30 p.m., ESPN).
MIAMI -- Celtics guard Ray Allen was already on the floor going through a shooting routine when coach Doc Rivers and the rest of his teammates arrived for shootaround Wednesday morning at AmericanAirlines Arena. Spotting Allen at the other end of the floor, Rivers cracked, "I've been looking for Ray all morning!"
In an effort to maximize Allen's on-court production, the Celtics had previously limited his offday (and even day-of-game) activity. But one day after debating whether to potentially sit Allen in Game 2, the Celtics essentially went in the complete opposite direction and told Allen to go back to his shot-heavy routine in hopes of sparking his offense.
"That’s Ray," Rivers said when asked about Allen's early arrival. "Someone said, 'Should you go another way?' and I said, ‘No, you want to give Ray a chance, every game, because you know he’s going to do everything it requires.' He’s going to give himself a chance and you know that. Ray is a tough, determined individual. He’s Ray Allen, because that’s what he does. He’ll come early and do the same shooting. Ray wants to play well, and he’s not going to let injury or anything else be a reason why he doesn’t.
"Like I said yesterday, we don’t know what the right prescription is for him. We tried it the other way, we told him, ‘Don’t shoot, don’t do anything.’ Well that didn’t help him because he’s a great shooter. So we told him, 'Just do your routine, and if you feel great, great; if you don’t, then we’ll do something else.'"
Allen had a quick response when asked his reaction when Rivers broached the idea of sitting a game.
"Hell no," he said. "This is not the time to sit down."
Allen, who had been complaining about being forced to shut down his workout regimen in hopes of letting the bone spurs in his right ankle calm down, said he was eager to push himself Wednesday and see how his body responds. He knows the injury is affecting his shot and is getting a little tired of armchair quarterbacks offering him advice.
"So many people call and tell me, ‘You gotta get the ball in the air more.’ I’m like, ‘Thank you for the advice. I’ve only been doing this for 20 years,’" said Allen. "I know how it affects me. So I'm just working on getting that back, and making sure I keep the ball in the air."
A few more notes from the morning shootaround:
MIAMI -- A handful of notes after the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat held media access during their morning shootarounds Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena:
A BUSY 48 HOURS FOR CELTICS
When the Celtics got back to their locker room following Saturday night's Game 7 triumph over the 76ers, an encyclopedia-thick playbook previewing the Miami Heat was waiting on each chair. As Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked, "I don't know if they opened them," but the message was clear: It's a quick turnaround and there was little time to savor the end of that series.
And while Rivers acknowledged that a little time off might not have been a bad thing, the Celtics are content to dive right in versus Miami.
"I like the rest, but I like to play," said Rivers. "We just want to keep playing -- that’s the whole key. At the end of the day, that’s more important. The other option is going home and not doing anything. In our minds, let’s just keep playing."
COULD WE SEE MORE PIETRUS THAN ALLEN?
With Ray Allen still fighting through right ankle woes, there's a line of thought that suggests maybe Boston would be better off utilizing more Mickael Pietrus this round in order to beef up defense against Dwyane Wade. Rivers shot down the notion heading into Game 1.
"No, we’re going to stay the way we are," he said.
Rivers said he thought Allen's shot looked like it was improving, particularly after hitting two key fourth-quarter 3-points in Game 7 against the 76ers ("I do think he’s getting more and more comfortable with his shot. Obviously, we’re going to need it in this series," he said). But Rivers also admitted that managing Allen is a minute-to-minute proposition.
"We don’t know game to game with him, we don’t know how he’s feeling, then we don’t know how he’s going to deal with it during the game," said Rivers. "The way we coached him so far, is with the eye -- that’s how we have to coach him. We have to watch him. If we feel like he’s moving enough to help us, we keep him on the floor. If he’s not moving enough, then we take him off the floor. Then the second decision is, do we put him back on the floor? It’s every game -- in Game 7, the argument our staff was having, ‘Take him off, take him out, bring him in.’ Honestly, it’s just luck sometimes. We left him in and he made two 3s. But the hook was close, I can tell you that."
NEXT STEP FOR BOSH
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra clarified that Chris Bosh's return to activity Sunday was simply a "progression" in his rehab.
"It was more of a progression of a rehab than it was a basketball workout, but I can see how it would be interpreted differently," said Spoelstra, while admitting it was an encouraging sign. "I wouldn’t over-read into his workout yesterday. We’ll continue to reevaluate every day. He’ll continue to do his rehab. When he starts legitimate basketball work I’ll pay attention a little bit more."
While Celtics captain Paul Pierce said he welcomes the challenge of facing the Heat with all of their top guys if Bosh is able to return, Rivers noted that the Heat are still plenty dangerous without him.
"Obviously Bosh makes them better, in some ways, you can say they are more dangerous," said Rivers. "Those 15 shots that Bosh had, they are going to (Dwyane) Wade and LeBron (James). In some ways, they have the ball more, they are more aggressive, it almost activated them to be more aggressive. Which puts a lot of stress on the defense."
CELTICS AS UNDERDOGS?
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked if he relished the opportunity to be a rare underdog in this series.
"I never look at it that way," said Rivers. "But the answer would be, ‘I don’t know.’ We don’t look at ourselves as anything but combatants. We tell our guys, 'You can call us what want, but we’re going to come play, regardless.' That’s the way we look at ourselves. How everybody else looks at us, that’s up to them."
Asked later to explain the Celtics' pride given all the adversity they've faced, Rivers said he wasn't sure he could put it in proper perspective.
"We have a lot of (pride), and we should have a lot of it," said Rivers. "This team, they like each other. And I think when you like each other, you tend to pull for each other and you play harder."
Second-year guard Avery Bradley, who underwent shoulder surgery on Friday, was the only Celtic who didn't participate in Saturday's shootaround, and everyone else will be available for Saturday night's Game 7.
Saturday morning's shootaround consisted of a brief film session followed by a run through of halfcourt offensive and defensive sets.
PHILADELPHIA -- Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen rolled his ailing right ankle in the second half of Monday's Game 5 triumph over the 76ers, but said he's ready to go for Wednesday's Game 6 in Philadelphia.
Allen, who missed the first two games of the postseason due to bone spurs in his right ankle, jumped back into the starting lineup Monday with Avery Bradley sidelined by shoulder issues. Allen said he tweaked the ankle that night, but took himself out of the game and prevented it from getting worse.
"I rolled it; It feels good now, though," said Allen. "I don’t have any concerns. I was glad I took myself out when I did because I gave it a chance to calm down."
Echoed coach Doc Rivers on the injury: "It is what it is. He’s a go right now."
Allen said these are the type of situations he puts all the offseason work in for, so that his body will stand up when the games matter most.
"I believe that I'm a tough person," he said. "I believe my body is tough. You go through these things where you’re testing it out."
A few other leftover notes from the team's morning shootaround:
* Celtics rookie center Greg Stiemsma aggravated a longstanding foot injury in Monday's Game 5 win, but said it wouldn't keep him off the court. Added Rivers: "He said he feels much better today and he’ll definitely play. He’d be the definite of the (injured guys)."
* Before talking about Stiemsma, Rivers had already deemed Bradley questionable and acknowledged Allen's rolled ankle. When a reporter asked if there was anybody else ailing, Rivers quipped, "Not that I know of. But I don’t ask, because I might get an answer."
* Asked about Larry Bird's comments that his Pacers team was "soft" in Tuesday's loss to the Miami Heat, Rivers noted, "The last time he did that, Kurt Rambis had that famous clothesline. So if I’m Miami, I’d watch out. Listen, whatever works. But you don’t want it to get taken to some of the level of play in yesterday’s game, I thought some of that was -- there’s nothing wrong with hard physical play, I love it, I think it should be allowed more. But, nothing where it has a chance to injure a player. That's not good."
* Rivers was asked if he wanted his team to remember any part of the Game 4 loss in Philadelphia where Boston fumbled away an 18-point second-half lead. "Whatever gets them better," said Rivers. "I don’t stick on stuff much. Listen, there's nothing you can do about it. There were lessons to be learned, and it wasn’t us letting up, it was us losing our composure. But whatever helps you. If reading a book helps you, go read a book. I don’t care. Go golf, do whatever you need to do. But just be ready."
* Ray Allen on the difficulty of a closeout game: "It’s the hardest one to get if you take that mentality that you have to win. Just like anything else, when you've go to do something, and you put too much pressure on yourself to have to succeed. My approach is to go into it, just pay attention to the small little details of your job -- everybody does their job -- and the rest will take care of itself."
Bradley, who the team originally Tweeted was the only player not on the floor for the Celtics during their walkthrough at HealthPoint, was later clarified to have been on the floor during the session. Bradley dislocated his shoulder for the third time this postseason during Friday's Game 4 loss in Philadelphia and despite staying in the game that night, he also sat out Boston's practice session on Sunday.
Last week, Ray Allen missed a shootaround, but still played that night. If Bradley is unable to go Monday, it would likely thrust Allen back into a starting role.
For more on Bradley's shoulder woes and the team's concern, hop HERE.
* For the first time in a while, health didn't dominate the conversation. It's pretty much assumed at this point that all the dinged up bodies -- including Paul Pierce (left MCL sprain), Ray Allen (right ankle bone spurs), and Avery Bradley (sore left rotator cuff) -- will be playing through their aches and pains. All 15 guys were on the floor as the team prepared to launch into shootaround.
* Pierce did sport a bulky stabilizing brace over his left knee. Boston's captain, who has clearly grown tired of the questions about his health and has lately resorted to saying he's fine, clarified that he is unlikely to wear the brace during Game 4. Pierce politely suggested it was strictly precautionary by noting, "Well, when I first hurt (the knee) it was in a shootaround, why have another accident at shootaround?" Pierce suffered the MCL sprain when he tripped over a teammate's foot before Game 4 of a first-round series against the Hawks.
* While health wasn't exactly in focus, Rivers did spend a lot of time talking about the team's decision this postseason to stay off the court on offdays, especially given the quick turnarounds with games staggered just about every other day. "Well, we’re just old," he quipped. "We’ve done that (each game), for the most part. With the way the series is constructed so far, we’ve yet to go on the floor between games. It’s just not enough time for recovery with our legs. If we were younger, we’d be able to do that, but with this team, we’ve learned through the season, they need days off."
Rivers was quick to point out that a day off doesn't necessarily mean the entire team is lounging by the pool with their Kindles.
"When we don’t practice, guys still work on their games," said Rivers. "We didn’t do anything yesterday, but Kevin was over there shooting. Guys, especially veterans, more than young guys, understand what they need to do to keep them in rhythm. I think for young guys, days off are bad, because I don’t think they get that. They think a day off is a day off, they don’t understand what gets you to the next day or the next game. And I think a lot of our veteran guys, if they need a day off, they take it off. Ray rarely takes a day off; he’s running somewhere -- down the street, riding a bike; Paul’s on the treadmill yesterday at the hotel. They just get their bodies. But they have the experience in that, so that’s an advantage for them."
* Rivers also noted that Garnett still got some shots up during the offday hoping to maintain his rhythm after a dominant Game 3 performance. When a Philadelphia reporter joked that 76ers fans will be thrilled to hear Garnett was working on his shot, Rivers laughed and noted, "Kevin’s a creature of habit. The one thing we do know, he reminds me a lot of Patrick Ewing, who I played with. Days off, even though he needed them, were bad, because it would take him out of rhythm. So they both would always go to the gym."
* While Rivers initially griped about the spacing of the first four games of this series, Pierce said it's actually worked out quite well, especially by avoiding the back-to-back games this round. "I think it’s great for us," he said. "We haven’t played particularly well in back-to-back situations; the two back-to-back games we came here (in Philadelphia during the regular season), we got blown out. I think it works to our benefit. Not having back-to-backs and not having long layoffs -- I don’t know how it goes down when we have three or four days off, but I kinda like the every-other day (schedule), it keeps us in a good rhythm."
A two-day break looms before Monday's Game 5 in Boston.
The Celtics on Wednesday engaged in a late-morning shootaround, their first on-court activity since a Game 2 loss Monday in Boston evened the series, but Rivers believes the off day might have helped his players on the short turnaround.
"Everybody’s good," said Rivers. "We basically took the day off (Tuesday) -- we watched a little film and met; other than that we didn’t do anything on the floor."
But since injuries are unlikely to get better at this time of year, particularly with the spacing of these games, it appears the Celtics are trying to will themselves through the pain. At one end of the visitor's locker room, Avery Bradley massaged his ailing left shoulder while telling reporters he plans to suit up Wednesday despite another dislocation in Game 2.
"I just gotta make sure I’m careful," said Bradley. "But I try not to think about it and just play. If it pops out, then it pops out."
When the prospects of offseason surgery came up, Bradley said, "I’m going to do whatever I need to do to get myself ready for next season. As of right now, I’m just rehabbing it, trying to get it stronger."
That would suggest that, like Game 1, the Celtics should have everyone available. Paul Pierce (left MCL sprain), Ray Allen (bone spurs in right ankle), Avery Bradley (sore left rotator cuff), and Mickael Pietrus (swelling in right knee) are among the ailing on the Boston roster at the moment.
The Celtics are dealing with nagging injuries to Paul Pierce (left knee), Ray Allen (right ankle), and Avery Bradley (left shoulder), but Rivers said he anticipates them all in their normal roles with a chance to close out the Hawks on Tuesday at Philips Arena.
"Everyone is going to play, I think," Rivers said before the team's morning shootaround at the arena. "Ray feels good, he’s probably the healthiest right now. Avery has to be feeling better because he got through the game with no injury, so that’s two more days of shoulder getting stronger. Other than that, everybody’s about the same."
Pressed on Pierce, Rivers said, "He’ll be ready, but obviously you don’t know once the game starts what happens. We've just gotta be ready for anything."
Later, Rivers reiterated how he did not even expect Pierce to play in Sunday's Game 4 win. Pierce sprained his knee tripping over a teammate's foot during a morning shootaround, then further aggravated the ailment in the first half of Sunday's game. Through it all, he scored a game-high 24 points over a mere 16½ minutes.
"Watching [Sunday's] shootaround, I didn’t think Paul would play the other night and then he does what he does," said Rivers. "It just shows you, we’ve talked about him before, he’s such a gamer, that’s what he is. But we had already kinda tweaked the lineup, preparing for him not to play. The fact that he played and played well, obviously, was a bonus."
Inside the Celtics' locker room, Bradley didn't hesitate when asked if he'd play Tuesday. He was able to grind through Game 4, then used the offday to further strengthen the shoulder that dislocated in Game 3.
"I think Avery’s probably improved a little bit more, because nothing happened during the two days off," said Rivers.
Rivers brushed aside the notion of having to "drop the hammer" against the Hawks with Boston up 3 games to 1 and looking for the knockout blow.
"We look at it as it’s important to play well," said Rivers. "And if you do that, then everything takes care of itself. If you get caught looking at putting the hammer and all that stuff down, you lose."
In search of a jolt, Hawks coach Larry Drew said his team will shuffle its starting lineup to feature Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Al Horford. That moves Kirk Hinrich and Jason Collins back to the bench and adds some bulk to the Atlanta lineup, particularly with Johnson shuffling down to the shooting guard spot.
"I just wanted to give us a different look and see it if will kinda jump start us a bit," said Drew. "It gives us an opportunity to move Joe back to some 2, it makes us bigger, so we can do a few more things defensively in making some adjustments in Game 5. And I just think it's time -- you play four games in the playoffs and, obviously it's a game of adjustments and you try to do things that will benefit the team. I think, at this time, down 3-1, it's time to give it a different look see it if will jump start us with Al and Marvin in the starting lineup... get us going."
Bradley and Allen participated in the entirety of Sunday's hour-long session, along with the rest of the roster, which consisted primarily of half-court sets and minimal contact and running.
Bradley dislocated his left shoulder late in the third quarter of Game 3 on Friday and did not return. He finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and a blocked shot. Allen, meanwhile, returned on Friday following an 11-game absence due to ongoing ankle issues. Allen played 37 minutes off the bench during Friday's overtime win, scoring 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Play Podcast Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Congressman Peter King join the debut podcast to discuss security at this year's Boston Marathon.
Play Podcast Boston Marathon runner Demi Clark and her husband Brian, talk about the impact of witnessing the bombings last year. Dr. Jonathan Katz speaks about dealing with trauma.
Play Podcast Scott Burnside is joined by Craig Custance, Katie Strang, Joe McDonald and Pierre LeBrun to break down each series of the first round of the 2014 NHL playoffs.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks with Tim Kurkjian and Aaron Boone about the Braves hot start, the Nationals' injury woes, John Farrell's ejection after a blown replay and much more.