News broke at today's practice that Doc Rivers underwent minor throat surgery Sunday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital and, if he was a player, would be listed as day-to-day on the injury list. In his absence, first-year Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank took the lead role as the team held its first full practice in a week.
Rivers' surgery, according to Frank, was a planned procedure and is nothing serious. He is not attending practices at the moment because, as Frank said with a smile, doctors "just want him to rest his voice box -- obviously he'll be using it quite a bunch."
Even without Rivers in the building, it sounded as if Boston still got its work done today. Frank told reporters that Rivers still put together the practice plan and that the assistants simply put it into action. Rivers could return to coaching the team as early as Tuesday, for the team's corporate sponsors open practice, but it's also possible that he may not return for a few days.
Either way, the team knows exactly what needs to be done as Opening Night approaches. Only one preseason contest remains on the schedule, Wednesday night's home game against the Nets, and then the focus will be shifted to the Oct. 26 opener against the Miami Heat. During the final week before Opening Night, Paul Pierce and his teammates are looking to clean up their mistakes, but also take care of their bodies as next Tuesday approaches.
"We've got a few nagging injuries that we're taking care of right now," Pierce said. "I think it's good that we get them all out of the way (and) a couple guys sit out. Hopefully by the middle to end of this week we'll get everybody back on the court and just sharpen up our tools."
The two tools Boston couldn't take out of the box today were Delonte West and Avery Bradley.
West has been sidelined for about a week with back pain, but the good news is that his tests came back with no major injury to report. Frank also classified West's injury as a "day-by-day" thing, and the team hopes to have him back as soon as possible.
Bradley's return didn't seem quite as optimistic. He continues to recover from the left ankle surgery he underwent this summer and has managed only 16 minutes of playing time during preseason games. As a rookie, Bradley is anxious to get on the court and prove himself, but the team and training staff are taking precautions with his return no matter what the 6-foot-2 guard has to say.
Said Frank, "Ed (Lacerte) and our doctors have done a great job of really protecting him against himself and making sure that, from a big picture, we don't want him to do anything that's going to affect him long term."
The C's are scheduled to return to practice at 6 p.m. Tuesday night at the TD Garden, where they'll hope to have their head coach back on the sidelines barking orders and West back on the court with his fellow reserves.