A few odds and ends of note from today’s practice in Waltham today with some quotes courtesy of our friends Chris Forsberg and Greg Payne over at ESPNBoston:
Leandro Barbosa made his Celtics practice debut and did not disappoint head coach Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo with his performance:
“He’s been here for three or four days and the last two days we ran him through all the stuff. So he had a concept of what we’re running. He’s played against us for so long — that helps as well. But he had a great practice.”
Added Rajon Rondo, “[Barbosa] was very vocal today. He was the point guard. He moved [Jason Terry] to the side and I think they both liked that situation. JET’s more of a scoring point guard and Barbosa set a lot of those guys up today in practice.”
It will be tough for Barbosa to get enough of the playbook down to be a meaningful contributor in time for the regular season opener next week in Miami, but positive talk like this from the C’s on and off-the-floor generals should not go unnoticed. This team needs offense anyway they can get it and despite the influx of talent to the bench for this season, a sparkplug like Barbosa seeing 10-20 minutes per game to jumpstart and push the pace with the second unit could be a pleasant change of pace and take the onus off Terry and Rondo at times.
Things will get interesting when Avery Bradley returns and Barbosa will need time to get fully comfortable with the team’s schemes but his experience so far looks to be paying dividends.
According to Forsberg, Chris Wilcox (back) and Darko Milicic (wrist) also made their returns to practice today, giving the team their first day of full attendance since the starting of training camp. Here’s more from Wilcox on getting back on the floor:
“It felt good,” Wilcox said. “First day out there, it’s tough because you can’t really — you’ve kind of got to feel out what’s going on. But I felt great out there today.”
Later he added: “Man, big relief. Just sitting back there, working out every day on the sideline, seeing these guys go up and down, I wanted to be a part of it. They’re out there grinding, getting ready for this year and I couldn’t be part of it, so today was a great challenge for me. I went out there, worked hard — it’s the first day, so I didn’t expect too much, but I think I did well.”
Though it’s good to see Wilcox back in action, his lengthy absence makes you wonder whether he will start the season on the outside looking in for the C’s rotation. We’re unlikely to see a number of bigs against an undersized Miami team in the season opener, but a back-to-back against Washington and Milwaukee next weekend should give us a better idea of where the C’s backup bigs stand. Darko appears to be the favorite for backup center minutes out of the gate.
Kris Joseph also confirmed to reporters he has made the team, although the team has yet to make an official announcement about the waiving of Rob Kurz and Micah Downs.
Finally, a few telling quotes from Doc an Rondo Ray Allen’s latest comments in the Miami Herald regarding potential tension between the two players as well as Doc and Rondo back in 2009.
“We’re going to just let Ray keep talking,” Rivers said. “It’s easier.”
“I don’t know what happened or hear anything,” Rondo said. “I just stay focused and hit the gym. I didn’t read any papers or see anything on the news about No. 20.”
Just six days until the opener in Miami folks. That pregame speech in the locker room in South Beach by Doc should be something.