Celtics Hold Open Practice at TD Garden

BOSTON – Open practices are usually the antithesis of what NBA coaches want as the regular season approaches. Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics, however, did nothing but enjoy theirs on Sunday.

Thousands of fans packed into TD Garden to get their first live look at the 2012-13 Celtics during Sunday’s open practice that began at 11 a.m. The team worked out for about 90 minutes, going through a series of drills before moving into scrimmage action.

Open practices are typically bland in terms of what goes on, but Rivers used Sunday’s practice as an actual prep for Opening Night, which is only two days away.

“Because it’s so close to the first game we wanted to get some actual work in,” said Rivers. “I actually like the fact that there was a crowd. We hadn’t seen one in a while.”

The crowd, comprised of season ticket holders, was rabid while it watched the team get up and down the court. They were boisterous throughout the practice, particularly when Jeff Green threw down a monster dunk over Fab Melo, and when players like Jason Terry played up to them while asking them to cheer louder.

The second portion of that last sentence was important to Rivers. He understood that his players were going to want to interact with the fans in the arena, which is a test compared to a typical closed practice.

“I look at it as it’s a lot of distractions for the guys, so you just see if they can execute stuff,” said Rivers. “I thought overall it was a decent practice.”

Rivers was then asked if he disliked the fact that this open practice was held so close to the team’s first game of the season. He surprisingly seemed very content with that fact, and he came off as confident as to where the team currently stands.

“No,” he said. “We’re fine. We’ve had enough practices, honestly. We gave them the day off yesterday, for the most part. Today was going to be something light. We’re traveling, so tomorrow will be our last good practice. And listen, when you have this much time off you don’t want them to get rusty and you don’t want to overdue it.”

Sunday’s light practice allowed the Celtics to stay fresh while connecting with their most passionate fans. Paul Pierce, who looked fantastic during the scrimmage time, came off of the court and explained to the media how enjoyable the day was for him and his teammates.

“It was fun, man. The fans really love us,” he said. “We were joking about the fact that this would have been [a quiet] arena in the Hawks arena, but these people come out and watch our practices and that just shows the loyalty and type of fans we’ve got out here, to check us out for about an hour, hour and a half. To get a sweat and enjoy it with the fans, it’s like no other place.”

This practice served as the fans’ send-off for the team. Boston will board a flight this evening and head down to Miami in order to avoid the effects of Hurricane Sandy. They will then have 48 hours left to prep themselves for the defending champions.

The 2012 version of open practice wasn’t a full-blown work day for the Celtics, but it sure was useful for everyone involved. Rivers was able to evaluate his team around distractions, the players were able to work on their skills, and the fans were able to connect with their heroes. That’s about as successful as it gets.