Celtics hoping to make most of extra time off

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Celtics hoping to make most of extra time off

WALTHAM The Celtics will have a few days off before they take to the floor again. Good thing for a veteran team, right?

Not exactly.

The benefits for players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry -- all were given the day off from practice on Monday by Doc Rivers -- goes without saying. But when it comes to winning games, that's a different story.

Boston doesn't play again until Wednesday when it hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves, the fifth time this season in which the Celtics will have two or more days off before playing.

In the previous four games, the C's are just 1-3.

And that lone victory came over the Washington Wizards on Nov. 7, a team that did not win its first game of the season until Nov. 28 against Portland.

Still, the potential upside of having more practice time still outweighs the struggles the C's have had in the past with a longer-than-usual layoff.

"It's always nice when you're over 30 to get rest," said veteran Jason Collins. "But we're still continuing to work hard each and every day."

Added Courtney Lee: "It's definitely good to have days off. We can get in here and work on some things."

Among the areas in need of improvement is the Celtics' pick-and-roll defense which was among the areas covered in practice on Monday which was run by C's assistant Armond Hill.

"We're getting better," Hill said. "You can see guys are reacting more, reacting quicker to what their responsibilities are."

Hill said Rivers has expressed many times how the "four (power forward) and five (center) are together, and the smalls have to be in the help position to give the stunt, to get back and play one-on-one."

The Celtics' loss at Milwaukee was indicative of the kind of progress that the C's are making.

They're improving, but clearly not as much as they need or want to.

With that said, having a few more days to work on things and better prepare for their next opponent is a situation the C's have embraced as they look to get on track after a lackluster 9-8 start this season.

"We know it's a long season, and we have a long way to go," Lee said. "We're getting better as a team and we know we'll turn that around and you'll see us going on eight-game winning streaks. So we're definitely not focused on the record. Our main focus is just getting better and continue to work on things that Doc puts in."

Ainge: Groin injury will 'probably' keep Thomas from playing Friday

Ainge: Groin injury will 'probably' keep Thomas from playing Friday

There’s still no concrete answer on how long Isaiah Thomas’ right groin injury will keep him sidelined, but the 5-foot-9 guard probably will not play against Toronto on Friday.
 
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, addressed Thomas’ availability on 98.5 the Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich show Thursday morning.
 
“It’s day to day,” said Ainge, who added that Thomas had an injection into his thigh muscle. “He is a warrior; he loves to play. He’ll be back faster than most players would be back after an injury. At the same time, we have to be really careful with Isaiah over the long haul and make sure he doesn’t come back and injure it.”
 
Thomas did not play in Boston’s 117-87 win at Orlando on Wednesday night, his first missed game since the 2014-15 season.
 
He is ranked among the NBA’s top-10 scorers with a career-high 26.0 points-per-game average, in addition to leading the Celtics in assists (6.2) per game.
 
Thomas has been effective while playing through an assortment of injuries during his time with Boston. But a groin injury isn't something that can just be played through,  which is why the Celtics are wisely shutting him down now.
 
“We’ll try and get him as much rest as we can and get him back on the court when he’s ready,” Ainge said.