Celtics Return to Practice Court Sans KG

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics got back to the basics today, simply because they were finally able to.

For the first time in more than two weeks, according to Doc Rivers, the team took the court for a full practice.

You have to go all the way back to the week of Dec. 26 to find a date in which the C’s were able to hold a full practice. Yes, they’ve been able to hold their regular game-day shootarounds, but those only go so far. Shootarounds are generally geared toward preparation for that night’s game, rather than putting in work to clean up areas of slippage. The Celtics needed legitimate practice time, and that just hasn’t been available.

“We just have gone through this stretch where we literally didn’t have enough guys and we‘ve had too many games,” Rivers said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s funny – before the game yesterday I was talking about how badly we needed a practice and it showed its head (in the game).”

The last time Boston got one of those practices in was when it traveled to Indiana after its Christmas Day loss to the Magic. Since then, the team has played nine games and won only five of them.

The evidence is in the record. Boston clearly needed some prep time, and when the opportunity surfaced today the C’s attacked the court with a purpose. Rivers didn’t hold back in pushing his team hard throughout the lengthy practice session.

He pushed them so hard, in fact, that he and the team’s medical staff decided to hold off on sending Kendrick Perkins into the full court, full speed and full contact drills.

“We went pretty hard, so I didn’t want him out there in that,” said Rivers. “But he did the skeleton stuff and he did some running up and down. We did a lot of contact stuff and I didn’t want him to be a part of that.

“I knew we were going to do a lot of live, hard rebounding stuff. Too many bodies; too many feet. I didn’t want him involved.”

In addition to Perk only taking part in non-contact drills, Kevin Garnett did not participate in practice. Instead, he went through a session with the strength and conditioning coaches that included running, weight lifting and sliding drills. Rivers said that he would “doubt” that KG will play tomorrow night against Sacramento, but left the possibility open for his return.

“He’s close, very close, but you know how I am with that,” Rivers said, alluding to his typical caution when it comes to his players’ injuries. “I think he wants to play, I’ll put it that way. I just don’t think he should play yet.”

Without Garnett and Perk, Boston ran through 90 minutes of practice with the intent of cleaning up some areas of slippage it has experienced during its two consecutive losses.

“The first is transition,” Rivers said of the areas in which he has noticed a lapse. “Defensively, you can see guys jogging back. The first three steps, everybody’s – everyone’s not below the ball. Very few talks or points. We showed it on film today; I think [Houston] had three 3s in transition where all we had to do was point and talk and we would have been in the right spot.”

Transition defense isn’t the only area where the team has experienced some issues. Rivers quickly noted two other areas of concern as well.

“And then pick-and-roll defense is the second part,” he said. “The third part is your offensive execution.”

The hope is that today’s practice was the first step toward cleaning those issues up, but Rivers realizes this isn’t a one-step process. The team has more practices scheduled in the near future, and today will mostly serve as a nice reminder of how to do things correctly.

“No,” he said, responding to if one practice could solve all of those problems, “but it can remind them, and it gets them back. You know, we walk over it, but you’ve got to do it at a game speed. It’s easy to walk over things – hell, I can walk over it – but the game speed is what teaches you where to be.”

When Rivers says “game speed,” he is referencing practices at that speed, not actual games. While the upcoming schedule will allow the C’s to hold more of those game-speed practices, they may get an unexpected one tomorrow. A snowstorm has hit the East Coast and is expected to head toward New England tonight. It’s possible that tomorrow night’s opponent, the Kings, could be grounded in Washington after their game tonight. There has already been a postponement in the NBA, as the Hawks and Bucks will make up tonight’s game later in the season, and the C’s may have to do the same if Sacramento can’t fly north tonight.

If the Kings are unable to make the trip, Boston will do everything it can to use the unexpected off day as a positive.

As Rivers said bluntly, “We would try to take advantage of [a postponement].”