Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff

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Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM A couple days off does the body good, especially when that body has logged as many miles as most of these Boston Celtics players.

But having not done anything basketball-related as a team since Sunday, does have its downside.

Additional time to heal up some of the many bumps and bruises will definitely benefit the Celtics. But there is some concern that they won't be in a good rhythm when the second round of the playoffs begin Sunday in Miami.

"This is a cobweb day, get all the cobwebs out," said forward Glen Davis. "We've been chillin' for a couple days, getting a lot of rest; get our rhythm back together with each other."

Having so much time off in between playoff series is relatively foreign to most of the Celtics.

It isn't to starting center Jermaine O'Neal, who recalls in 2004 being part of an Indiana Pacers team that swept the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

"We put them away so fast, we ended up having a week, almost two weeks off," said O'Neal, whose Indiana team that season went on to the Eastern Conference finals and lost to eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons. "Sometimes you just have to watch a lot of film, kind of remind yourself what you should do and when you get back in practice, be as competitive as possible."

For O'Neal, the days off have helped his sore left wrist heal without having to worry about re-aggravating it in practice or a game.

"It feels good," O'Neal said of the injury. "I'm just going to protect it. I wear a brace. I'm kind of superstitious now. I even wear the brace at home when I don't even need it. You just want to be healthy going into the next round and not have any hiccups."

One Celtics player whose health remains a mystery is Shaquille O'Neal.

Coach Doc Rivers was asked if Shaq, who will not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, had suffered a setback to the right triceps surae complex injury to his right calf and Achilles.

"No, not at all," Rivers told CSNNE.com. "He's actually had a very good week. He's still improving, but when the medical staff says he's ready, he's ready."

With Shaq unable to practice, it has meant more time with the first unit for Jermaine O'Neal, whose defensive presence was among the contributing factors to the Celtics sweeping the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

"He's been a godsend," Rivers said of J. O'Neal. "I could not have asked for anything better."

Between now and Game 1 of the C's second-round series, Rivers will continue to implement nuances to their various offensive and defensive sets, in addition to fine-tuning what they already do well.

Rivers said having this time off without a definitive game to play, is similar to what they have to do during training camp.

"When you start training camp, you don't really have an opponent," Rivers said. "Really just trying to work on all your stuff. We have the opportunity to do that, with rest. So that's good."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Hayward: No one thing led him to Celtics, 'just a gut feeling'

Hayward: No one thing led him to Celtics, 'just a gut feeling'

In the end, what was it that led this summer's most coveted free agent, Gordon Hayward, to finally choose the Celtics?

"I don't know if there was one thing," Hayward told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on "The Woj Podcast" released Monday. "I think if I would've stayed in Utah, we would've been really good. It would've been a great situation for me. My family would have been happy. We loved it there.

"It was a different feeling in Boston that we had. It was like a gut feeling. When we broke it down, the city, the coaching staff, the players. The feeling of putting on a Boston Celtics uniform and competing for a title outweighed everything."

MORE CELTICS

More highlights from Hayward's first extended one-on-one interview since choosing the Celtics over the Utah Jazz and Miami Heat on July 4:

When is he moving to Boston?

"Early September," Hayward said. "We've found a place and we're in the process of moving our stuff back there. We're excited. With two little girls, we'd like to find some places we can go to all the time with little things they'd like to do."

On seeing [his former Butler coach] Brad Stevens there to greet him at Logan Airport on his Celtics visit: 

"I'm taking pictures at baggage claim with Brad and the fans. I had an immediate sense of familiarity...It did take me back to recruiting days...The relationship between Brad and I has been completely overstated and overhyped. There's always been rumors but those were just rumors. We had a great relationship but it wasn't like we were always texting each other. Everybody made it seem like we were besties and it wasn't like that.

"He immediately called me July 1 [after free agency opened] and I thought, 'Oh no this isn't going to be any different [from Butler]'"

On his visit to Fenway Park when the Celtics made their pitch to him:

"I'm not a baseball person at all but that was still really cool."

On his return visit to Boston after he announced he would sign with the Celtics:

"We went back to Boston and we were going to do the press conference there [it ended up being a conference call from his home near San Diego] I actually forgot my suit. We were going to go to Saks but we didn't have time. So we jumped in the car and went to Joseph A. Bank, which I got killed about [on social media]. We were walking around the city, we didn't know, and we could just feel it then though, you could feel the intensity. We went to dinner and went to the North End and I got my haircut. We kind of just jumped in and everyone was so excited and telling me they were happy I was in Boston. We almost just had a night in the heart of Boston and that was really cool." 

On the Celtics' history: 

"For Larry [Bird], I think was a little too young [to have grown up watching him]. Celtic lore to me because is how invested the fans are and how invested the organization is in winning. For me, it was a lot of you know I want to try to continue that greatness with the team they have now." 

What did Isaiah Thomas tell him on his visit?

"We really talked about going and getting Banner 18 more than anything. That was really the focus."

Report: Celtics have called Cavaliers about potential Kyrie Irving trade

Report: Celtics have called Cavaliers about potential Kyrie Irving trade

Celtics fans aren’t the only ones thinking of ways Kyrie Irving could end up in Boston.

Even though it would be hard to imagine last season’s No. 2 seed in the East trading one of the best players in the league to last season’s No. 1 seed in the East, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote Monday that the Celtics have indeed called the Cavs about the 25-year-old point guard. 

Wrote Lowe:

Most teams, including the asset-rich Celtics, have placed the obligatory call letting Cleveland know they would like to be kept in the loop, sources say. Boston could offer Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and one of their golden picks -- Brooklyn's pick next season, or the Lakers/Kings pick they got from Philly in the Markelle Fultz deal. It's unclear if they would dangle all of that, but those picks could represent the young stud Cleveland needs. Regardless, a deal between the East's two best teams seems unlikely.

While nobody’s counting on Irving joining the Celtics, a trade of Irving elsewhere could still swing the balance in the East in Boston’s favor depending on what Cleveland gets back. Irving reportedly requested a trade from Cleveland earlier this month.