Celts Hold Unique Double-Practice at Garden
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics put in a full day on Friday at TD Garden. They weren't playing a game, but they did head onto the court for two practices in a span of just three hours.
Well, kind of.
The team gathered on the court around 5 p.m. this evening for its first practice of the day. This will go down as the real practice of the day.
Brad Stevens ran the team through about 90 minutes of intense practice and his players reacted well to the session. Stevens, who spoke to the media shortly after 6:30 p.m., seemed to be happy with what he saw on the court.
“Solid, solid half of practice,” he said. “It was good. It was very competitive, very physical, very – you can sense what’s around the corner.”
With Opening Night quickly approaching, Stevens' players have taken it up a notch this week. First, Stevens called Tuesday’s practice possibly the best of the season. Then the team went out on Wednesday night and cut down the Nets, 101-97. Now the team has strung together two more solid practice days before heading into the weekend.
One of the players who is forcing his teammates to ramp up the intensity is Avery Bradley. Bradley is known for his feisty defense and he brings that attitude to the practice floor every day. He learned from Kevin Garnett that practices are even more important than games, and now he’s relaying that message to his new teammates.
“We’re taking it – not to say we haven’t been taking it serious – but a lot more serious, especially the little things,” Bradley said. “We’re making sure we’re going through every drill hard because it translates to the game. Sometimes it takes the younger guys to understand that, that everything you do in practice translates to the game. So we’ve been doing everything, from the beginning of practice, hard.”
‘Hard’ isn’t a word anyone would use to describe Boston’s second practice of the day. The team came off of the court after its 90-minute practice, quickly spoke to the media, took a few minutes to rest in the locker room, and then went right back onto the parquet to put on a show.
The Celtics have a tradition of hosting an open practice for season ticket holders, which is appropriately called a Practice Party. The team’s loyal season ticket fan base is invited to the Garden to watch their favorite players work through a lighthearted practice session that’s loaded with fun and entertainment.
“It’s great just to have a chance to interact,” Stevens said, “but also for them (the fans) to see a few small drills that we may do in a normal practice and then have a little fun at the end.”
Kelly Olynyk, who participated in his first Practice Party, is excited to interact with the season ticket holders and thank them for their loyal support.
“It’s a day where you really get to appreciate them and everything they do for you and support you,” he said. “So it’s always nice to give back and have a little fun with them.”
Olynyk, along with fellow rookie Phil Pressey, got the fun rolling shortly after 7 p.m. With nearly 7,000 fans and all of their teammates watching, the two rooks were tasked with replacing public address announcer Eddie Palladino. Olynyk and Pressey took to the microphone and gave their personal touch on announcing each of their teammates' name, position and college/country.
The team then went into a few legitimate drills that they would typically run through behind closed doors. Assistant coach Walter McCarty wore a microphone and led the players through the drills.
The Celtics were then broke into the most entertaining portion of the practice. As Stevens revealed prior to the second session, he planned on throwing the players into a 3-point competition and a round of the ever-popular game of Knockout, which wound up including some kids from the crowd.
This is the part of the practice that the players tend to remember. They can jaw at each other and try to land on their feet as the final player standing.
Though the Celtics used to conclude the Practice Party with a scrimmage instead of a competition, Bradley recalls that scrimmage from two seasons ago very vividly.
“I hit a game-winner,” he said. “That was more of a scrimmage... I think we scrimmaged after the lockout season.”
Asked to describe the shot, Bradley replied, “I think there was like one second to go. The shot wasn’t for me, but I was wide-open so I shot it right over Ray (Allen) at the buzzer and I hit it.”
Did he talk a little smack to Allen after the play?
“No, we were just laughing,” Bradley said with a smile. “It was funny.”
And that’s exactly how this practice is supposed to be. The Practice Party is all about fun, entertainment and interacting with the fans.
That’s a far cry from what practice No. 1 was all about. The Celtics used the first 90 minutes of their evening to get better with physical competition.
This might not be the toughest double-practice Stevens has put the Celtics through, but it sure was a full day.