WALTHAM — Coach Doc Rivers is telling the Celtics to speed things up. And Kevin Garnett echoed the message during practice Sunday.
“He was like, we didn’t get a lot of easy points, easy buckets,” guard Courtney Lee said of Garnett’s speech to the team. “We had to work for everything.
“So that’s the one thing I’m going to try to do on the offensive end, is to get out and run. If we can get 10, 12 points a game on transition, that’s huge.”
Lee and Jason Terry will be important to the Celtics’ intentions to increase the offensive tempo. Both will be expected to threaten from the perimeter, setting themselves up off the dribble, as well as running off screens.
“We really need to increase our pace,” Rivers said. “But we turned the ball over too much last year and that hampered our offense. When you look at our efficiency, when we actually got a shot up at the basket we were pretty good.
“I’d like to increase the pace. I just think we are a team that can run more pick-and-rolls for guys. We have more guys who can put the ball on the floor. We haven’t had guys who wanted to run, and now I think we have more of those guys, and that helps.”
The Celtics slowed noticeably after losing Avery Bradley (shoulders) and Chris Wilcox (heart surgery) last season. Wilcox and Jeff Green — who missed last season, also because of heart surgery — along with the newcomers, are expected to accelerate the pace this season.
“Now, you have guys like myself and Courtney, who can also handle the ball in pick-and-roll situations and can make it a lot easier on these guys,” Terry said. “Usually, [Rajon] Rondo has to get everybody involved and get everybody shots, whereas now he penetrates the lane, kicks it to us, and now we can also create. It won’t just be a catch-and-shoot situation.”
Lee could be in the starting lineup, with Terry retaining his sixth-man role, when the Celtics open the season at Miami Oct. 30.
“What I’m expecting to see is all-around play,” Rivers said of Lee. “I think he does a lot of things well, and that helps our team.”
Rivers said he began recruiting Lee shortly after the free agent signing period began.
“That made the free agent period easier, knowing the Celtics were one of the teams coming after me,” Lee said. “Boston has the tradition. For everybody, it’s all about getting back to the Finals and winning the championship. You only want to be a part of that. Winning matters the most, and that makes the transition a lot easier for me.”
Lee has been consistently productive as a professional, but this will be his fourth team since being drafted by Orlando in 2008.
“It’s the NBA, it’s a business,” Lee said. “Here today, gone tomorrow. The only thing is to continue to be professional about it, work hard every day, control what you can control.
“Everything happens off the court for a reason. There’s teams that want to go after you, there’s teams that want to make trades to better their team. I happened to be a part of that. It doesn’t discourage me at all. I’m on this team. I’m here to win and come in here and play hard every day.
“My role for this team is on the defensive end, first and foremost. Make it tough on the opposing team, try to get a couple steals, pressure the ball. On offense, speed the pace, up the tempo of the game, running the lanes for Rondo. With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, with all those double teams, I need to be the guy on the outside with the open shot.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.