Celtics Feel That Regular Season Has Begun

Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox returned to the practice floor on Wednesday for the first time since the opening days of training camp.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

WALTHAM, Mass. – The word preseason is defined by thefreedictionary.com as, “The period immediately before the start of a new season.” That would mean that the Boston Celtics are technically still in the preseason, but they sure don’t see it that way.

In these players’ eyes, today’s three-hour practice in Waltham, Mass. was the kickoff to their regular season. They’re now getting ready for the Miami Heat.

“They count the rest as training camp,” Doc Rivers said of his players, alluding to everything they’ve done thus far in the season. “Today, when you start talking about other teams you’re going to play, they… they were focused.”

Boston is now focused on the Heat, and only the Heat. Everything leading up to this point was strictly about prepping the team for the regular season and acclimating the newest Celtics with the team’s system. That all changed today. The C’s have now begun a full week of preparation for the reigning champs.

The preparation began with a heightened level of focus and a honed-in roster on the court. Boston took the floor today with the 14 players that it expects to be active for Opening Night. That includes a healthy Chris Wilcox, who hasn’t practiced since the opening days of training camp due to a sore back, and new addition Leandro Barbosa.

The additions of Wilcox and Barbosa to the floor may seem minute, but their presence completely alters the look and feel of practice. Both players are seasoned vets who have made large contributions throughout their lengthy careers. They give more depth to a team that may already be the deepest roster in the league, and that results in highly competitive practices.

“That second unit at times is… it was [Jason Terry], Jeff (Green), Barbosa,” said Rivers. “That’s a pretty good 1, 2 and 3 on any team, let alone your second unit.”

Rivers has been tinkering with his first and second lineups like a mad scientist during the preseason. Now, with this added depth, he is able to run his practices as he wishes without a drop off in production or competition. It doesn’t matter which players are on which teams, because both teams will be loaded nonetheless.

“It just helped that the second group now, because [Wilcox and Barbosa are] on the floor, can compete better when you do it,” Rivers said of changing up his lineups. “Before, when you messed with the lineup, because of the numbers we had and we had a lot of the young guys, it gave you a false sense of security. You were scoring every time or stopping them every time.”

Don’t expect easy baskets or easy stops to occur very often anymore. The Celtics can now return to their fiery practice style and bump the intensity up to a regular season level.

That’s quite fitting for this team, because in their minds, the regular season has already begun.