Shaping Up: C's Pleased with Conditioning

NEWPORT, R.I. – Double-sessions. Sore legs. No ‘me’ time.

These are the dog days of the season for NBA players. No one feels great during training camp.

If those are the rules, this year’s Celtics team may be the exception to them. The obstacles of training camp remain the same, but these Celtics may be better prepared for those obstacles than the groups that have come before them.

“We’re in shape,” Jeff Green stated bluntly Tuesday afternoon, following the team’s second practice of the day. “I think that’s a good start. I think our strength and conditioning guys did a great job training us for what’s to come in preseason and the whole preseason [schedule].

Gerald Wallace layup

To start training camp, this group of Celtics is ahead of the curve in terms of conditioning.
Peter Stringer/

“The coaches put us in the position we’re in now, and that’s being in good shape until the season starts.”

Green was one of several Celtics who spoke to the media after practice No. 2 on Tuesday. Interestingly, all of them sounded as if they hadn’t even begun practice No. 1. In other words, they all sounded fresh and energized despite the fact that Brad Stevens had just run them through four hours of practice time in a single day.

To be quite honest with you, that isn’t typically the case. Most NBA players sound tired and look sore after Day 1. They want to get back to their hotel rooms, relax, and ice down their bodies. This group of C’s probably wanted to do the same, but they looked and sounded much less eager to do so.

As Green referenced, the team’s strength and conditioning team, which consists of lead man Bryan Doo and assistant Armand Lavallee, has positioned Boston’s players well for camp. That’s due in large part to the personal choice of many players to arrive in Boston several weeks ago.

Green, along with the majority of the team, had been in town since August and early September, and they weren’t there just to play pickup games. They wanted to work on their conditioning in order to prepare themselves for today.

Two players in particular stood out to Stevens on Tuesday in regard to their conditioning. One of those players is a newcomer to the Celtics, while the other is not.

Kris Humphries has received a lot of flak for his smile-less introductory press conference in Boston (he poked fun at that fact during Monday’s media day). Behind the scenes, however, the nine-year vet was proving to everyone who mattered that he wants to be here.

Humphries arrived in Boston months ago and has been working out ever since. Judging by Stevens’ feedback on Tuesday, that work has paid off greatly for Humphries.

“Kris’ physical conditioning is at a high level,” Stevens said. “I don’t think that there are a lot of guys who are in tip-top shape, and Kris is one of them. He gets to places earlier than others because he really takes care of himself.”

Jared Sullinger isn’t at that level yet, but he’s pretty far along considering where he was just a few short months ago. Sullinger underwent back surgery in February and has been on the mend ever since. He was just recently cleared for full contact in early August, and as Stevens noted, he has rapidly progressed since that time.

Said Stevens, “Jared’s come a long way from the first time I saw him work out, which was in early, early August or so after he was cleared to do full contact drills in just a one-on-one setting… I was pleasantly surprised at his motor today, because I thought it was really good.”

All 30 coaches in this league would love to be making comments like that about their players after the first day of practice. It’s a guarantee that not all of them are doing so.

The Celtics have clearly positioned themselves well for training camp. They’re in better shape than normal, and that lends itself well to the rest of this week. Still, though, they have a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

“Like any other team on Day 1,” said Stevens, “we have a lot to improve on.”

That includes conditioning, but the Celtics are off to a solid start.