Back in Waltham and Back to Work
WALTHAM - With a day off to recover from jetlag Thursday, the Celtics returned to the practice court in the familiar confines of the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint Friday morning for a two-hour session as the team tunes up for its next exhibition game on Wednesday against the New York Knicks.
James Posey and a few other assorted Celtics who couldn't sleep yesterday actually swung by the facility to get some shooting and running in, but most guys ended up waking up early this morning and were more than ready to go by the time 10 a.m. rolled around. Practice went about two hours and according to Doc Rivers, it was another productive session.
"They were better than I thought they would be," Rivers said, adding that the team will have the day off Saturday and practice late Sunday afternoon.
After a pair of wins in which the team shot 46% and 49% from the field, the team has to be happy with the offense. The ball movement was solid as well, which has to please the coaching staff. Some of the ball movement comes from necessity, as the double teams seem to be coming fast and frequently. Typically, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo have been the guys left alone in the half court sets.
"Perk and Rajon, by design of the other teams, they're going to be open a lot," Rivers said. "Our job is to make sure that we have good court spacing and they go to the right areas so that we make them pay for leaving those guys."
But Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have also found themselves wide open in both games. So ball movement doesn't exactly surprise them.
"When you have more guys on the floor you can trust, there's going to be more ball movement," Pierce said. "If I know I have a shot, but I look over and I see Ray Allen, one of the best three-point shooters of all time on the wing, or I look up and I've got Kevin Garnett, an MVP, down low, there's a tendency [to pass] a lot more."
Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett echoed Pierce's sentiments and called it "surreal" to sense a double-team coming to him and realize that opponents were doubling off of Ray Allen or leaving Paul Pierce alone behind the free throw line.
One particular beneficiary of the ball movement was Brian Scalabrine, who had eight points in limited minutes Wednesday against Minnesota thanks to some nice ball rotations that provided a few wide-open looks.
"They don't draw up plays for me," Scalabrine said. "I'm a guy who's always gotten shots off his teammates."
On the negative side, the team's free throw shooting has to improve. The Celtics shot just 60% from the charity stripe over their first two exhibitions. After practice officially concluded, several guys went right to the free throw lines.
One of the benefits of being back in Waltham is that getting in extra work is actually a possibility. The Celtics practiced about 30 minutes away from the team hotel in Rome, and court time was limited at the O2 Arena in London, so guys didn't really have the opportunity to get in extra shooting when the spirit moved them. But with 24-hour access to the gym in Waltham, players can stop in anytime to work on their jumper or get in some extra conditioning work.
Posey stayed after Friday's practice for about 45 minutes of outside shooting drills, and plans to be an off-hours regular at HealthPoint.
"Someone's always here to rebound, and it's nice to take advantage of this opportunity to get in the gym," Posey said.
The Celtics had a bit of a scare at the end of practice just after media access began, as Paul Pierce hit the floor for a few seconds and appeared to be in a good amount of pain. He took an inadvertent elbow to the left thigh from Jackie Manuel on the right wing and stayed on the floor for about 20 seconds before limping off under his own power and getting looked at by Trainer Ed Lacerte.
Minutes later, Pierce was back on the bench watching the final minutes of practice, and reported he was "fine" when he met with the media.
Perkins also suffered a jammed left thumb but played with a heavily taped digit.
Meanwhile, Scot Pollard was re-evaluated Friday and will continue to receive treatment (including whirlpool, ultrasound and massage therapy) on his left ankle. Pollard, who traveled to Rome but returned home from Europe early for an MRI, could be seen icing the joint down after practice. There's no timetable on his return but Pollard was in good spirits when talking to reporters despite having yet to participate in an official team practice.
"You know, I sprained the right one three times last year and didn't miss a day of practice," said Pollard, who hurt the ankle during informal workouts about a week before the team left for Rome. "This one, I smashed it, I really did it good and I've never had one last this long."