Boston Celtics: Observations from Their Open Practice
I was fortunate enough to attend the practice—and sit on the floor, no less. This allowed me to get an up-close and personal look at the 2012-13 Celtics that will start their quest for banner 18 on Tuesday.
Overall, attending the practice was a worthwhile experience and it gave insight into this year's team. Throughout the practice, there were several different things of note. Here are six important observations from practice.
Communication Was Key
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Regardless of what the Celtics were doing during practice, they were always talking. At the beginning of practice, the Celtics were simply walking through opposing sets that they will see throughout the season.
And even though they were literally walking through it all, the players were constantly talking through the sets and the rotations. This continued throughout practice, especially when they got into the Heat's sets. Jason Collins continually yelled out that he was Shane Battier—despite the fact that their only similarity is their age.
This kind of continual communication in, not the game, but practice, is great to see and will no doubt help the Celtics throughout the season in their defensive rotations and overall team play.
Second Unit Looked Good
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When the Celtics scrimmaged during practice, the second unit (white team) really pushed the starters (green team), and at times, even appeared to be beating the first-teamers.
Now, you can take that one of two ways. Either the starters didn't take it to the bench players like they should have or the backups just played very well.
Realistically, it was a combination of both. But I'm not too worried about the starters not beating up on the bench players. I know that come Tuesday when it is LeBron James and Ray Allen instead of Kris Joseph and Leandro Barbosa on the other side, that the first unit of the Celtics will come alive and play well.
Leandro Barbosa Looked Great
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The Celtics' most recent addition, Leandro Barbosa, may have a hard time getting big minutes with the depth the Celtics have at guard; but, he certainly made a strong case for big minutes today at practice.
While the bench took it to the starters, Barbosa was the focal point of the white team's offense. On several occasions he drove baseline to his left, getting by his defender and finishing over players like Kevin Garnett.
Barbosa certainly has great talent, as he showed during the postseason last year and the Olympics over the summer. Today, he showed what he can do in practice. Hopefully, he will bring these talents to South Beach on Tuesday and be able to make an impact all season long.
Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
For the most part, the starters on the green team consisted of Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett.
Meanwhile, Avery Bradley—who started at the 2 last season—did not participate in anything but stretching at the start of practice.
The only time the Celtics really deviated from this starting lineup was when they went to what they called their "small lineup"—which I realized from seeing the players up close may be a misnomer because Jeff Green is in fact bigger than Brandon Bass—with Jeff Green at the 4.
Meanwhile, Jason Terry did not take any reps with the starters.
Jason Terry Brings the Energy
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As advertised, Jason Terry certainly is an energy player. Even though it was just a practice, he was still pumping up the crowd and his teammates.
At one point, during the scrimmage, he took a microphone and designated cheering sections. The crowd behind the opposing team's bench became the cheering section for the green team while the other side cheered for the white team (being in the middle, I just cheered for both).
Then, during the actual scrimmage he pumped his cheering section up continually. Not to mention, he also hit some shots and had a couple good takes to the basket.
His energy is a welcome sight for any fan that has watched the lackluster bench of the Celtics recently. On a similar note, Kevin Garnett also brought his own intensity to the table during practice—he started sweating during the opening stretches.
Doc Rivers Is Always Coaching
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Doc Rivers is one of the best coaches in the NBA—in part because he is able to communicate with his players well, and this was evident today during practice. All throughout practice he was instructing players on what to do during certain situations.
Most notably, he pulled Jeff Green aside—about five feet in front of me—and corrected Green's defensive positioning along the baseline. Green was playing too close to his man in the corner and therefore could not cut off the drive. Rivers told him to give more of a cushion to be able to cut off the drive and still recover to close out on the shooter.
Rivers also drew up several plays during practice for both the green and white team to run. These plays worked well—except when they showed Rivers drawing the play on the Jumbotron for the white team to see.
Overall, this practice showed some of Rivers' greatest strengths—his ability to communicate with his players and draw up plays. Throughout the season, these strengths of Rivers will certainly help the Celtics.