Celtics keep energy on after off day

Celtics keep energy on after off day
October 5, 2013, 7:30 pm
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WALTHAM -- Brad Stevens didn't know what to expect when he held the Boston Celtics first practice on Saturday following an off day. They had recently completed three days of training camp in Newport, Rhode Island and were returning to the Celtics practice facility after being off on Friday. He has seen teams look off their games after a quick break, but his new squad did not disappoint.

"This afternoon was good," said Stevens. "The energy was fantastic. One of the things you take is you learn more about your team each day you're with them in practice and how they respond to off days. You coach a lot of teams that after an off day they're not very good in practice. This would be a sign that this wouldn't be the case with this team. They were very in tune, they were really getting after it, it was a good day."

The Celtics held two sessions on Saturday, a 40-minute walkthrough in the morning followed by a multi-hour afternoon practice in which the team scrimmaged and competed with referees. Stevens used this opportunity to mix and match lineups, try out new combinations, and get players and coaches alike back in a game-time mindset.

"What we're trying to do with that (using referees) is A, just get our coaches on the sidelines and get us readjusted to the game," he said. "Those are for the players to get a flow, get back in the thought process of game situations, executing with a scoreboard. It's also for me to get a little bit more used to the game in the NBA. You talk about something as simple as a late-game situation when you're up two shooting a free throw with three seconds left in college and you make the three, the other team's got to go the other length of the floor to score on you whether they call a timeout or not. Here they don't and so it changes things quite a bit."

Another aspect of the game Stevens expects to change is the rotations. Determining the starting five and in-game pairings will be a work in progress during training camp and possibly during the season. The Celtics will play their first training camp game on Monday, and that will only be the beginning of Stevens examining how roles play out on the court.

"I think role-wise, that decides itself and then it's a matter of really clearly defining those and embracing those," he said. "Those are two critical parts of coming together as a team. I think as far as playing time, starters, this will be a trial. That will not be determined by Monday night and most likely we'll flip that around throughout the week and really use it as continuing to try to get better."

As a new coach on a team of new faces, Stevens has his own set of criteria for measuring how the Celtics are adjusting to the system and one another. After Saturday's day in the gym, he gave his players two thumbs up.

"I rate it by two things, do we make progress and every day and then how are our attitudes?" he explained. "Both of them have been good. We've made progress and the attitudes have been great."