Practice: A chance to stop slippage
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics were back on the practice court for the first time in 11 days on Friday morning, a much-needed opportunity to clean up some slippage amidst a game-heavy schedule since coming out of the All-Star break.
Coach Doc Rivers said he'd put a heavy emphasis on the defense -- suggesting there's been some regression there, despite what the numbers might suggest -- and would also focus on offensive spacing, something the team has been inconsistent with at times, including end-of-the-game situations.
Rivers did admit: "You’re not going to solve [the issues] with one practice."
A handful of notes from pre-practice access:
* JET STAYS ON TARMAC: Veteran guard Jason Terry said he planned to sit out Friday's practice session and let the younger guys get some additional reps. Rivers saw through his ploy, joking, "Jason tells me he would always rather just take practice off. I think he’s the smartest of the whole group, he gets that. He’s a smart guy." The 35-year-old Terry, who has never missed more than eight games in a season, stressed that he doesn't plan to miss game action the rest of the way. "I'm a gamer, so I won't miss any games," he said.
* CAN'T LOOK PAST 'CATS: The Bobcats visit TD Garden on Saturday night and, with East-leading Heat set to invade on Monday, it'd be easy for Boston to look past the bottom-dwellers. Alas, an embarrassing loss in Charlotte on Tuesday (one of two defeats to the 'Cats this year) ought to prevent that. "No matter what our excuses are, they beat us two games," said Rivers. "One game they beat us soundly and one game we kinda sputtered down the stretch. And no matter what you say to them, they’ve beat us twice. They are going to have great confidence against us. When you beat a team, they don’t care about the excuses, they know they beat you and that makes them a better team the next time they play you. When they beat you again, that makes them even a better team the next time you play them. So tomorrow they are going to play great, and we have to expect that and we have to try to beat them playing great."
* LOOKING AHEAD A TINY BIT: Rivers and his players might have been focused on Charlotte, but they were inundated with questions about Miami's 20-game winning streak, which could reach 22 games by Monday (and match the second longest span in NBA history). Rivers admitted it's an impressive streak, comparing it to Boston's own 19-game streak during the 2008-09 season, but noted: "I don’t really care. We’re going to play them one way or another, whether they have a streak or coming off a loss. We’ll be ready, I'm sure they will be." Asked if he hopes Miami's streak is alive on Monday, captain Paul Pierce said, "I really don’t even care. I hope they lose every game the rest of the season. I just worry about what this team does."
* PIERCE ON BRYANT/JONES: Asked about the buzz-heavy sequence that saw Kobe Bryant suffer a severely sprained left ankle when he landed awkwardly on Dahntay Jones' foot in the closing moments of the Lakers' loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night, Pierce downplayed the chatter. "I had a chance to see it," he said. "I think it got kind of blown out of proportion. He put his hands up, got into his [opponent]. From the fact it’s Kobe Bryant, it’s an issue. If it was somebody else, we probably wouldn’t be talking about this today."
* SPEAKING OF LOOKING AHEAD ... WAY AHEAD: Rivers was asked if he's started pondering ways that rehabbing point guard Rajon Rondo can alter his game to fit the sort of offense the Celtics have thrived in since his injury and the coach noted, "I don’t think about it much. Again, you know how I am, when guys go down, there’s nothing we can do about it. I have given next year zero thought, I’m hoping [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] will do a better job of that than me -- that’s his job. But I don’t think about that much at all."
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