Celtics on schedule to be ready for first exhibition

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Celtics on schedule to be ready for first exhibition

ISTANBUL Training camp is less than a week old, but that's usually more than enough time for the Boston Celtics to be off schedule.

But this year, things seem to be different.

Despite having camp split between Waltham, their current location in Istanbul and later this weekend in Milan, Rivers said things have gone surprisingly according to plan thus far.

"I have a list, we're on schedule, which is rare in camp," Rivers said. "But you want to get enough offensive stuff in that you can play a game -- not necessarily opening night game, but get through a game. And we're on schedule to do that."

During Tuesday's practice, Rivers said they installed a baseline-out set and worked on "a couple of other things."

"Really the first half of practice, I sat over there with (Comcast SportsNet play-by-play announcer) Mike Gorman and we talked about the old days," Rivers said. "That's about it. I really just wanted to get them in the gym."

While that may be true, Rivers -- as always -- kept an eye on how his team was handling itself defensively.

"Defensively is where you want to see if your identity is taken hold," Rivers said. "I don't know if you'll have it in, but you'll see it in the first couple games whether you can, certain things you can play."

Boston's first shot at working out some of those defensive kinks will come on Friday at 9 p.m. locally (2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) against Fenerbache Ulker.

"I like playing the European teams," Rivers said. "They are usually great shooters. They spread the floor and run a ton of pick-and-rolls. And so I think that's great for us."

Blending those two worlds together -- strong defense and a better flowing offense -- will be one of the Celtics' biggest challenges this year.

And a big part of that will be strengthening the bonds that already exists, something that a trip overseas like this one lends itself to achieving.

"Each year since I've been here, we've had a close team," said Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. "We just have to do a better job of sacrificing on and off the court, being better followers. We have a lot of strong ego guys that at times may not want to follow or may not know when to be coached. It's just being a better listener and more positive with your teammates."

And that would keep the C's on track for achieving some, if not all, of their lofty goals this season.

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