I usually try to make it over to Waltham for Tuesday practice, but wasn’t able to make the trek yesterday. This disappointed me greatly as the Celtics actually held one of their few open practices to the media and a group of sponsors, one of the few times they allow visitors to take in a full day’s work. The good news for you and me though is Paul Flannery from WEEI.com was in attendance and wrote a tremendous piece on the atmosphere, actions and rituals this team goes through during a practice: A few key excerpts from the piece that all Celtics junkies would enjoy:
On KG’s Practice Habits:
With Nate Robinson isolated on defense at the top of the key and a screen coming from the man he’s defending, Garnett takes over. He doesn’t so much yell, as make himself heard. “By yourself, Nate. By yourself, Nate.” Then when the screen comes, “It’s hot, Nate.”
Garnett continues to do this every single time, over and over. This is a small, but important part of what he is trying to accomplish during the workout, and in doing so he is also setting an example for the other big men. (Garnett also talks to himself as much as he talks to other players. After setting a screen that freed Ray Allen for a jumper, he blurted to one in particular, “Nice pick, Kev.”)
Garnett is a fantastic practice player. He is active right from the start and he works himself into a quick sweat. Oddly enough, that presents something of a problem for Rivers.
“Almost too good,” the coach said. “That’s Kevin every day. The problem we’re having right now is not having enough guys to sub Kevin in practice and that actually hurts because we need Kevin for the whole year. I told him before practice, I’d like you to not do a lot of the active stuff if you can control yourself, and obviously he couldn’t. That’s just Kevin.”
On The Atmosphere:
The first thing that stands out is there no bantering or fooling around. The Celtics have developed a reputation for being loose off the court, thanks mostly to the arrival of the Big Maestro Shaquille O’Neal, but when it’s time to do their job, they work.
Then there is Doc Rivers, who cuts an active, athletic image in shorts and workout shirt. Part of Rivers’ genius is he still thinks like a player and he loves to encourage the reserves when they make a nice play. It’s partly to acknowledge them, but it’s also to subtly tweak his veterans in the starting lineup.
Check out Paul’s full piece here.