Practice notes: Nothing accomplished
The rundown (a quick look at practice headlines)
* Rivers: We haven't accomplished anything yet
* Pierce happy to be healthy, contributing in postseason
* Loose balls: Injury updates; Perk on the line; Daddy's girl
Rivers: We haven't accomplished anything yet
The last time the Celtics endured a three-day break between games, they responded by getting walloped by the Cleveland Cavaliers on their home floor in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The team noted the seeds for that loss were planted well in advance of the game and that’s why the team arrived at practice Thursday focused on maintaining the momentum built behind a pair of victories in Orlando to start the conference finals.
“We were just reminded of what we did the last time, knowing those days in between we had some poor practices,” said captain Paul Pierce. “Today, our focus is really to have a good practice, stay in tune with what we’re trying to do the next couple days, so that we don’t have those mental lapses going into Game 3.”
The Celtics negated some of the extended break by staying overnight in Orlando following Tuesday’s victory, partly because of the late-night playoff starts that make night travel a bit more daunting.
Boston players enjoyed a day off from practice Wednesday, but some came to the practice facility for a light workout, while others needed treatment.
On Thursday, the team got back to work and could be heard going through the grind of an intense workout after meeting with the media before the session.
"Believe me, in Doc Rivers' system, you won't be sitting around," said Kevin Garnett. "Believe that. We are looking forward to coming in and bettering ourselves and getting ready for Game 3."
As he’s done all throughout the playoffs, Rivers stressed the importance of taking each game individually. He was pleased that his troops didn’t get content with stealing Game 1 and played with the same sense of urgency in Game 2.
Now he wants to see the same in Games 3 and 4.
“We just gotta focus on basketball and keep our focus on what we’re doing,” said Rivers. “We can't get into the killer instinct. We have to focus on doing what we’re doing and not taking our eye off of that.
“It won’t be easy. But we earned this position. We should be happy with it. We earned it by getting up 2-0. But we haven’t had the opportunity to defend homecourt. We did our job there, but we haven’t done our job at home. As far as I’m concerned, until that happens, nothing has happened in this series.”
Rivers pointed out how the Magic defeated the Celtics twice at the Garden this season and suggested both teams will use that as motivation.
His players were already recycling the company line about focus before Thursday’s session.
“Stay focused, that’s all we gotta do is stay focused,” said Glen Davis, who pointed to Orlando's two regular-season wins in Boston. "We can’t worry about what we did [in Orlando], that’s over and done with. We gotta go out here and do it on our floor.”
Besides imploring his team to stay ready, Rivers said he’s using the extra time to watch film and make adjustments. He’s already wearing out the wheels on his VCR from game tape analysis.
“I don’t mind the prep time,” said Rivers. “For me, it’s always good in some ways. Sometimes you probably watch too much. I don’t know how many times I can watch Games 1 and 2, but I’m still going to do it. That’s what we do. You never know, after the fifth time -- which is where I’m at already -- you do see something different each time.”
Pierce happy to be healthy, contributing in postseason
Celtics captain Paul Pierce spent much of Thursday's session with the media on the defensive, denying his part in a Twitter post that suggested Boston wanted to sweep the Magic and downplaying his pointed comments to ESPN in a television interview following the Game 2 victory. But he also got a chance to get offensive -- at least in regards to his increased scoring this round.
"I'm taking my time, picking my spots," said Pierce. "I'm getting to the midrange because it's difficult to finish in the halfcourt when they have Dwight there under the basket, blocking shots. I'm trying to get to my spot in the midrange game, the 3-point game is going. I'm using the screens and guys are doing a good job of getting me open."
Pierce labored in the conference semifinals against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, a result of being matched up with James at both ends of the floor.
"That the difference between LeBron and everyone else in the league," said Pierce. "He's a two-time MVP, he's been on the all-defense team. He could pretty much cover the whole scouting report. That wears on you, mentally and physically, when preparing for him, more so than this series. [The Magic have] a number of guys that can kill you, but they don't have a two-time MVP."
Pierce said he's in good health, about as good as he can ask after missing 10 regular-season games due to a trio of injuries. But he did hint that he might have been hurting more than he let on at times this season.
"The things I went through were very difficult, not knowing if my body would make it to the end of the season," said Pierce, who dealt with a right knee infection, a strained left midfoot, and a sprained right thumb. "The knee, the foot, the hand -- and there were a couple injuries that didn't even get mentioned to you guys because so many other things were going on -- I didn't think I'd make it through the season. Truthfully, I'm glad I was able to work through it, get back to 100 percent, and get things going the way they're going now."
Pierce is averaging 25 points per game through two contests this round, but he's also shooting a blistering 58.3 percent from the floor overall, and getting to the charity stripe with far more regularity (21 free throws through two games, after attempting 19 in six games against Cleveland).
Loose balls: Injury updates; Perk on the line; Daddy's girl
* Injury updates: Shelden Williams, who was deactivated for Game 2 in Orlando because of back spasms, was one of the first players out on the court for Thursday's practice and seemed to be shooting without limitations... Rivers said he didn't know exactly how bad Kendrick Perkins' knees are hurting, but reiterated what he said in Orlando by noting that they remain sore and that the extra days of rest would certainly benefit his big man's cause.
* C's run 15 deep: Asked how the contributions of Perkins often fly under the radar, Rivers suggested that Boston's success comes from every guy on the roster. "All of our guys know that, we tell them all, including the guy on the bench that needs to practice well today in order to push Paul or Ray. Each guy in uniform has a role, he has responsibility for us winning. Perk is that, he's our defender. Like I said a couple weeks ago, he's our offensive lineman. He never gets any credit, he's always in the trenches, and he probably takes the most punishment of anyone of the team. But he just does his job."
* Daddy's girl: Pierce was asked if he received any feedback from coaches or players for his brash comments in an ESPN postgame interview following Tuesday's triumph in Orlando. "No, I haven't gotten any feedback. [Wednesday] I was home with my daughter all day and she didn't say anything... It wasn't a big deal to me. I just said I wanted us to go home, I want the crowd to be ready, I want us to play our best, and I want us to win two games. That's it."
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