Doc Rivers' secret? Shootaround, shootaround, shootaround (Getty Images)
The Boston Celtics are known for, amongst many other significant traits, the team's veteran legs and complicated offense. Though Boston often struggles to put the ball in the basket, you cannot say that Doc Rivers' exacting scheme on that end doesn't milk as much as it possibly can from a limited roster full of stars with profound mitigating factors — even among stars like Paul Pierce (too slow), Kevin Garnett (too skinny), Ray Allen (too gimpy), and Rajon Rondo (can't, and often won't, shoot). So it would stand to reason that, even with those veteran legs, the Celts need as much practice time as possible to construct a passable-enough offense to support its league-best defense, righto?
Not these Celtics, the lazy bums. They haven't practiced once during this postseason, a function of both the needs of those veteran legs, and a lockout-induced schedule that has seen them play every other day (with one exception) since their postseason run started on April 29. From the New York Times, via our mates at Pro Basketball Talk:
Rajon Rondo joked last week that he thought the last time the team had a real practice was "probably like nine months ago." He is not that far off.
The last time the Celtics practiced was before the start of the playoffs in April — and that was only because they were given an extra day between the end of the regular season and the start of their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks. They have done nothing in the playoffs but watch film and go through game plans on day-of-game shootarounds. It is Allen Iverson's ideal situation.
"It's been a while," Rondo said. "Obviously, we're in the Eastern Conference finals, so it hasn't hurt us."
It certainly hasn't, and it makes complete and utter sense.
With the 2-2-1-1-1 format of these playoffs, and the fact that the C's needed 13 total games to dispatch the Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in the postseason, the team's "off" days are usually travel days. And save for a two-day space between Game 2 and Game 3 of the opening round, the Celtics have only been afforded a lone day between each of the 18 playoff games they've participated in.
They're not alone, in this mad rush. But no other team has played as many postseason contests as the Celtics have this year. And this is easily the oldest group in the playoff bracket, even if a few end of the bench C's bring down the team's average age a few ticks.
Doc Rivers admitted as such, to the Times:
"We're just too old," he said after the team fell behind, two games to none, to the Heat in the conference finals. "We're tired and old and banged up. Honestly, I just look at it if I have a choice between the legs and the brains, I'm going to take the legs every single time. We need those. I don't know what I could accomplish honestly by bringing them in."
I'll take a good set of gams any day as well, coach.
Clearly, this group's on and off court leadership allows coach Rivers to rely on the team's significant basketball IQ and thousands upon thousands of collected career playoff minutes to get away with not running his team through the paces during their day off, merely showing the group game tape instead. Again, this was not unique to Boston even during the regular season, when teams were forced into playing a 66-game schedule in the typical time frame of a 50-game sked, but something about those cerebral Celtics make them best suited for this approach.
Unless they lose on Thursday night. Then it'll be suicide drills until the bums are pukin' up breakfast.
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