ISTANBUL After a flight that lasted about 12 hours with many players getting little to no sleep, it would have come as a surprise to no one if Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave his players the day off after they landed.
Instead, Rivers put them through about an hour's worth of practice with a simple goal in mind -- to keep them awake.
"That's a rarity in the NBA where you try to make sure they don't go to bed early," Rivers said. "Usually it's the exact opposite. But because of the time change and all that, I thought if we went straight and did nothing they would fall asleep at 6 p.m. and sleep the rest of the night away."
Istanbul is seven hours ahead of Boston, making the time change a pretty significant one.
"It's good for us to get into the gym," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "Just to kind of be on a regular clock schedule, just to have fresh legs for practice tomorrow morning."
Rivers promises that Wednesday's practice will be longer and more challenging, which was another reason why he felt it was important for them to at least get in the gym briefly.
"I don't anticipate it being a great practice, honestly," Rivers said. "That's not going to stop us from going our three hours. We're still going to do it. Hopefully by the next day, they will be a little better."
The time change will impact the entire team, but the C's have several veterans who should be experienced enough to handle it.
"You anticipate them handling it better," Rivers said. "But lack of sleep is lack of sleep."
Longtime TNT NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014. The Boston Celtics showed their support on Tuesday.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”