Practice: Stevens, Wallace rooting for Sox
"I’ve got a couple of old Butler hats that have a 'B' that looks awfully close [to the Red Sox logo]," he joked. "I can wear them and it comes across as a Red Sox hat."
Stevens apologized for scheduling practice up against Game 2 of the American League Division Series between the Sox and Rays and said he's adopted the local squad, even making two trips to Fenway since being hired in July.
"We’ve really enjoyed [the Red Sox's success]," said Stevens. "I grew up in the Midwest and I liked the Cubs growing up. It’s been cool because, moving here now, we’ve got an AL team."
New Celtics forward Gerald Wallace explained earlier this week that, growing up in Alabama, a state devoid of professional sports teams, he adopted the Red Sox as his team of choice and has become a big Big Papi fan. He even trekked over to Fenway to watch Friday's Game 1 win during the team's off day.
"First time ever [at Fenway]," said Wallace. "I had a tour of it, the history of it, saw some amazing things. Then they let me in the locker room, met some of the guys. My favorite players are [David] Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. I had a chance to meet with them and talk to them. The whole day was just special."
Wallace said he didn't want to bug his favorite player hours before the start of the postseason.
"I didn’t really want to harass [Ortiz] or take up too much of his time, because it’s the playoffs," said Wallace. "I know how we get when we’re in the playoffs. So, their first home game and they haven’t been in there in a while, so I know the focus was big for those guys. I just wanted to get in and say, 'Hi,' and get out of their way."
Read on for more from Saturday's practice, including how Boston responded after Friday's off day.
BACK TO WORK
The Celtics returned to work Saturday with what's expected to be the final double-session of camp. The team engaged in a brief morning walk-through, then went nearly three hours in an afternoon workout which included 5-on-5 full-court activities with referees to police the action.
"This afternoon was good, the energy was fantastic," said Stevens. "One of the things you take away is you learn more about your team each day you are with them in practice [and] how they respond to off days. You coach a lot of teams that, after an off day, they’re not very good in practice. This would be a sign that this wouldn’t be the case with this team. They were very in-tune, they were really getting after it. It was a good day."
When reporters observed the final portion of practice, the Celtics closed with situational work in a 5-on-5 setting. Players much prefer the game-like structure (as Wallace joked, "For me, 13 years [in the NBA], I’d rather do a scrimmage than all those drills") but Stevens said the end-of-game work was just as much for him and his staff as his charges.
"Those are for the players, obviously, to get a flow, to get back in the thought process, those end-of-game situations, executing with the scoreboard and all of those things," said Stevens. "But it’s also for me. To get a little bit more used to the end of the game in the NBA. It’s much different. You talk about something as simple as a late-game situation, when you’re up 2, shooting a free throw with 3 seconds left in college and you make the free throw, the other team has to go the length of the floor to score on you, whether they call a timeout or not. Here they don’t. It changes things quite a bit."
WORKING WITH LINEUPS
It's easy to read too much into the lineup possibilities as the Celtics showed a few combinations at the end of practice, with an Avery Bradley-Jordan Crawford combo leading the white team. But Stevens cautioned that he'd be mixing and matching, especially with a burst of exhibition games next week.
"I think, as far as playing time, starters, all of that stuff, this will be trial week," said Stevens. "That will not be determined by Monday night['s first exhibition game against the Raptors]. And most likely we’ll flip that around throughout the week and really use it as we're trying to get better."
Pressed on if he wanted to have firm lineups by the end of camp, Stevens added, "It’s funny because the best teams I’ve coached have done it both ways. I don’t know if there’s an exact answer. I think anybody would say you’d rather have it where you knew exactly who was playing, the rotation, the minutes, all of that stuff. But then again there’s some positives to not knowing that."
As for how he comes up with scrimmage lineups, Stevens noted, "You mix in different lineups you might want to see. Or get guys appropriate rest. You factor in all of that. It’s an interesting time because, if I had been here for six years, I’d probably be more focused on the lineups. Right now I’m more focused on making sure we get in what we need to get in."
ONE DETAIL: DON'T CALL IT A REBUILD
During camp in Newport, the catchphrase for players was "attention to detail" when describing how Stevens operated. Presented with that information, Stevens passed the praise to his staff. "I kinda laugh when you talk about my attention to detail because then I go into [assistant] Ron [Adam's] office or Jay [Larranaga's] office and they add 15 more layers of it. Then it’s just like whittling down what you can actually get done in a day. But we are spending a lot of time on the little things and that’s important, especially with a young team. That’s one of the reasons why I was brought in was, initially, to be a part of the building stages of a program. I don’t use the word 'rebuild,' never use the word 'rebuild.' Every year you’re building something. You’re just building and building."
Play Podcast The ESPN Boston High School football crew previews the 2014 high school football season.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL reporter Field Yates covers expectations for Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots' outlook, LeSean McCoy's injury and Alex Smith's contract negotiations with the Chiefs.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Justin Havens discuss how teams that made major deals have fared since the deadline. Plus, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer on the strange circumstances caused by weather.