Play Ball: C's Use Scrimmage To Hone Skills

WALTHAM, Mass. – Drills, meetings and film study. They’re all important aspects of an NBA training camp, but nothing is more valuable than actual playing time. That’s why the Celtics were so excited to hit the floor Saturday afternoon for their second practice session of the day.

Brad Stevens, who had kept the reigns on his players up until this point, finally unleashed them this afternoon. The C’s concluded practice with a lengthy scrimmage that simulated an NBA basketball game, with referees and all.

“What we’re trying to do with that is just get our coaches on the sidelines and get us readjusted to the games,” Stevens explained. “Those are for the players, obviously, to get a flow; get back in the thought process of end-of-game situations, executing with the scoreboard, all of those things.”

Additionally, the scrimmage time allows Stevens to acquaint himself with NBA rules, which differ greatly from those of NCAA basketball.

“It’s much different,” Stevens said. “You talk about something as simple as a late-game situation where you’re up two (points and) shooting a free throw with two seconds left in college and you make the free throw, the other team’s got to go the length of the floor to score on you, whether they call the timeout or not. Here (in the NBA), they don’t. So it changes things quite a bit.”

While Stevens uses the scrimmage time to adjust to NBA rules, the players use it to adjust to each other. Gerald Wallace said that until the team simulates true game situations, it’s impossible to know each other’s tendencies.

“For myself, coming off the screen-and-rolls, as soon as coach draws up the play I have to go up to the big and be like, ‘Listen, are you popping or are you rolling? What do you like to do?’” said Wallace.

“I’ve never played with these guys, they’ve never played with me. So we have to get accustomed to playing with each other and knowing what each other likes to do.”

Learning each other’s tendencies is great, but let’s be honest, that’s not why the players were excited to scrimmage. They couldn’t wait for this practice because they finally were allowed to do what they enjoy most: play basketball.

“For me, 13 years (in the league),” Wallace said with a smile, “I’d rather do the scrimmage than all the drills and the 4-on-4, 3-on-3.”

The swingman also noted that there are other reasons why he enjoys getting away from the mundane drills. He benefits more, both on the court and off, from game action.

Said Wallace,“I think my body works a little bit better when we’re just flowing, instead of the drills, when you’re moving and stopping, moving and stopping.”

The moving and stopping won’t disappear, but at this point of training camp, the Celtics are likely to experience much more scrimmage time than they had during their first three days of practice. With preseason game No. 1 looming just 48 hours away, it’s time for these guys to play ball.