Celts Staying Sharp During Lengthy Time Off

Paul Pierce, LeBron James

Paul Pierce and the Celtics continue to prep for their Opening Night showdown with LeBron James and the Heat.
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

WALTHAM, Mass. – Don’t expect the Boston Celtics to be dull on Opening Night. All they talked about on Thursday was getting sharper.

The C’s were back at it on the practice court today for the second consecutive day. They have four more days off until they open up their regular season against the Heat in Miami, and they’re using every bit of that time to prepare themselves for that difficult matchup.

“At this point we need to make sure we sharpen up our tools right now,” said Paul Pierce. “A little bit of inconsistency in the preseason, so this is a time for us to get a full week of practice to go over our stuff and make sure we’re sharp on day 1.”

Pierce is actually selling the layoff short. Boston has eight full days off between its last preseason game on Oct. 21 and its first regular season game on Oct. 30. There are probably many teams out there that would prefer to have much less time off between live game action, but Doc Rivers and his players actually prefer it this way.

“I’d rather have this than playing on Friday, I’ll say that,” Rivers said.

Kevin Garnett echoed that sentiment by saying, “If we had to start today I feel like we have the confidence to start today. But – I think any team would tell you this – that the time you have to prepare, you take it.”

There may be no better team in the league when it comes to preparation, and the reason for that is the presence of Rivers. He is known as one of the greatest minds in the game on the court, and as a players’ coach off of the court. That combination seems to be working wonders for the C’s, as newcomer Jason Terry can attest.

“Doc has been great in our preparation,” he said. “We’ve worked a lot on our half-court sets, but today we went up and down a little bit. For us it’s all about execution, whether it be defense or offense, and I think we have the best coach to prepare us in that manner.”

Terry also said that the layoff is good for Boston’s veterans. This team is unquestionably much younger than it has been in the past, but there are still quite a few veterans on the roster. Players like Paul Pierce (general soreness), Darko Milicic (thumb/wrist), Chris Wilcox (back) are all creeping back to 100 percent health during this down time.

While the Celtics may be looking at this time off as a positive for their development, not every aspect of this schedule is helpful. It’s difficult to stay sharp when you’re not playing against any opponents. It will be even more difficult coming off of that down time and hopping directly into an emotional game against the defending champs.

“That’s going to be tough,” Rivers said. “To have this much time off and then play a game, that’s not an easy thing.”

Such a situation might be impossible to overcome for a dull team, but the Celtics are preparing to slice right through it with their freshly sharpened tools.