ISTANBUL — Coach Doc Rivers treated his team as if it had just landed in Indianapolis, not Istanbul. Just hours after arriving in Turkey, jet-lagged from a 10-hour flight and a seven-hour time difference, the Celtics were on the court practicing.
Rivers said his intention was to keep his players fresh and prevent them from sleeping through the night without a workout. They landed at approximately 1:30 p.m. local time, and hit the court at 7 p.m.
The Celtics will return to practice today. The players, flanked by NBA security, league officials, and several members of the organization, went through an hour session at Besiktas Akatlar Arena, then were allowed to rest in their hotel rooms.
“I thought if we let them do nothing they would fall asleep at 6 p.m. and sleep the rest of the night away,” Rivers said Tuesday night. “I just really wanted them to get into the gym and I think sometimes less coaching, just shoot, and a lot of ways that’s a team-builder.”
Said Paul Pierce: “I’m still a little jet-lagged, trying to catch up. All of us are. It’s good for us to get up, get into the gym, after practice and go have some dinner and just kind of be on a regular clock schedule, so we can have fresh legs for tomorrow’s practice.”
Rivers said he is not concerned with security issues playing in Turkey.
“I am aware of [the potential risks], but not much,” he said. “Look, I have blind trust sometimes, probably foolishly, but I do. I just figure we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t safe.
“No. 1, the NBA is smarter than that. You can’t walk anywhere without bumping into a black suit or security. That’s great and I travel a lot, too, so I don’t give it much thought.”
An encouraging sign came after practice when Kevin Garnett, knees wrapped in ice, pulled aside Fab Melo for some personal instruction. Garnett’s influence on Melo could be critical to the rookie’s long-term success. “When Kevin communicates, that means he actually likes you,” Rivers said. “And that’s good. Fab has a chance. I mean, he’s a ways away and Kevin understands that, and he’s been very patient with him.” . . . Courtney Lee said he had been nursing a deep thigh bruise for the past few weeks but he declared himself healthy as training camp enters its first week. “It was bothering me for a couple of weeks but I was ready to go the start of training camp and I’m good now,” he said.
Bradley on board
Although he will miss all of preseason and likely the first month of the regular season after double shoulder surgery, Avery Bradley made the trip. He has not begun shooting or basketball drills yet . . . The Celtics will be bouncing around the city, with practice sessions set for two arenas in the European part of Istanbul followed by Friday’s game in the Asian part of the city. In addition to the game and practice, the team has an NBA Cares event scheduled for Thursday at Taksim Square . . . Jason Collins’s weight loss is considerable; he said he’s in the best shape he has been in years . . . Pierce and Jason Terry have taken to challenging each other in shooting games after practice. Terry evened up the duel at 1-1 with a victory Tuesday.