WALTHAM, Mass. – Before the Celtics fully stretched prior to their first practice of the season, coach Brad Stevens had his players go 5-on-5 in a not-live breakdown while going at about 30 percent full speed or similar to what they would do in a walk-through.
“If that was 30 percent, we’re going to be able to fly around,” said Stevens. “I think it was just a misjudging of what 30 percent is. They were flying early on in practice. We have to be able to fully rotate, we have to guard different positions, you gotta be able to read the game instinctively and obviously there’s an athletic component that allows you to do so effectively.”
Regardless, the Celtics are a team that will rely more on their athleticism in past seasons in order to be effective and live up to the lofty expectations so many have for them this season.
“We have a real good team, real athletic at a lot of spots,” Celtics forward Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We definitely got a couple more high-flyers in the building this year.”
He’s speaking about Gerald Green, a former Slam Dunk champion, and Jaylen Brown, who is considered one of the more athletic players among this year’s rookie class.
And that athleticism was indeed on display in the early moments of the team’s first practice of the season.
But what makes the Celtics a team that could potentially be a major player in the East, is that the increased athleticism is now married to a team whose skill level is underrated.
Talent and athleticism is certainly a bonus for any team.
But the Celtics know the road to being among the game’s elite is long and winding, a journey that they are just beginning to embark on right now.
And while there are plenty of directions that Stevens can put a greater focus on in these early days, it doesn’t appear the Celtics' leader will go that route.
“We’ve got a lot being installed,” Stevens said. “We’ll keep the emphasis on being a blue-collar team and playing together.”