- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave members of the 35+ club -- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry -- an extra day off and a respite from Monday's practice, then tossed his clipboard to veteran assistant Armond Hill to run the skeleton session.
Leandro Barbosa also sat out the brief practice due to illness. With two rookies on assignment with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League and Avery Bradley still on the mend from double shoulder surgery, that left a mere seven available bodies for Hill to work with.
What can you do with seven players?
"You can do a lot with seven guys," said Hill. "We got a lot of 3-on-3, we played a little 1-on-1, some 2-on-2 with the bigs -- but we also broke down some plays, where we were able to get what we were looking for as far as pick-and-roll defense, and offense. We got a lot done."
Coming off a game-heavy November, Rivers elected to give his veterans some additional time off, particularly with the team having three total days off before Wednesday's visit from the Minnesota Timberwolves (coming off a back-to-back, the Celtics took Sunday off as a team).
The veterans are expected back on the floor on Tuesday morning. The younger players didn't mind some extra time in the gym to iron out some wrinkles.
"It's definitely good to have days off," said Courtney Lee. "You get in here and we can work on some things that we lacked in finishing out the game with [on Saturday in Milwaukee]. For today, we let the older guys -- the guys that are 35 and above -- get another day off, so they can rest their bodies. So that's always good when you get those guys to refurbish themselves."
Jeff Green did have some fun when a reporter asked about practicing without the "old" guys.
"Don't say that around them, they'd be mad," joked Green. "Well, we just worked on some defensive schemes that a lot of the bench guys needed to improve on. It's different with them not being there. It's a lot quieter, you've got KG not there. But we just worked on some things, tried to continue on our defense, but we miss them. Those are our leaders. It's weird not having them in the gym with us, and for me, I like everybody to be there. But those guys need their rest and we just had to get better today with the group that we had out on the floor. We'll come back tomorrow with everybody."
A handful of other notes from Monday's brief session, including Rajon Rondo's return, Lee's meeting with Rivers, and planning the skeleton session:
* RONDO SUSPENDS MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Rondo was back on the practice floor after serving a two-game suspension for his dust-up with Kris Humphries in Wednesday's loss to the Nets. Despite being the only team leader available on Monday, Rondo declined media requests. To be fair, Rondo has made himself available frequently this season, including last Thursday's practice before his suspension came down from the league.
* LEE MEETS WITH RIVERS: Lee said he sat down with Rivers about a week ago to discuss his inconsistent offensive start. What was said? "A lot of private stuff," quipped Lee. "No, like I said, he just told me to go out there and stop thinking so much. He said we want you to be aggressive. He said, 'We know you're going to play hard on the defensive end, we just need you to play with the same energy and focus on the offensive end.' I mean, that was enough said right there."
* PICK-AND-ROLL DEFENSE THE FOCUS AGAIN: The Celtics spent much of the skeleton session working on pick-and-roll defense, particularly as they tweak their approach based on opponent. "We’re getting better, and you can see that guys are reacting more and reacting quicker to what their responsibilities are," said Hill, who went on to explain the intricacies of what the team was trying to accomplish. Later he added, "I think, most of the time defensively, the pick-and-roll is the main thing we’ve got to try to get better at."
* SUBSTITUTE TEACHER: Hill said that Rivers alerted his coaching staff on the way back from Milwaukee after Saturday's game about how Monday's practice would operate. "He told us that the coaches had to get together, work on the different drills that we wanted to get work done," said Hill. "Look at the film, look at what we needed work on. And then we came in and met this morning, then brought everything to Doc. And we showed Doc, and he looked at everything, said what we could do and can’t do, and what we needed to work on. It was a process, but it started on the plane ride back."