The push is on at practice
Players are invigorated after intense workout
WALTHAM — After tonight’s game against Charlotte, only 11 games remain in the regular season for the Celtics. And there will be even fewer practices. So yesterday’s full-throttle workout, accompanied by Doc Rivers’s full-throated coaching, might have set the tone for the immediate future.
“I think we always play better after we practice,’’ said Ray Allen. “Just having pretty much a solid 12-13 guys out there, where we can really play, we can really go, going over stuff, timing — all that stuff is important.
“Just for me, body-wise, running up and down, getting in athletic position, going in and scrimmaging against each other. Doc having a chance to yell at some guys, to change some things up, how you’re playing pick-and-rolls, what you’re doing on offense, running plays and going over them live, in different situations.’’
The intense practice came a day after a 90-87 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden, and the Celtics responded, Kevin Garnett at the forefront.
“There was serious intensity in here, almost playoff intensity in practice,’’ said Delonte West. “We was trying to give KG some rest, telling him to rest a little bit. He wanted to be on the floor.
“Around this time of year, the veteran guys, the All-Star veteran guys, they’ll take all the rest they can get. So that made a big statement, him not even wanting to come off the floor.
“I mean, they had to literally drag him off the floor, like, ‘Kevin, we need you to sit out a play.’ ’’
Possibly because of the extensive verbal workout he got, Rivers told the team’s public relations staff he wanted a day off from addressing the media.
“That’s what Doc was trying to stress today: that there’s no excuses,’’ said assistant coach Armond Hill. “You’ve got to eliminate excuses. We win because of how we play.’’
And because of how they practice, according to assistant coach Kevin Eastman.
“Every team — especially teams which are vying for championships, which we hope to do — they have a DNA,’’ said Eastman. “And part of our DNA is not just the set we run or who we go to, but it’s how we do it, and the how is every bit as important as the technique.
“We’ve had limited practice times. We’ve had some guys injured, and so that kind of slows the process of building that DNA.’’
Said West, “Today was a gut check for everyone. We’ve got to look everyone in the eyes and see what we’re going to do here, what we’re going to do these last couple games.’’
The Celtics practiced for about 1 1/2 hours, with the reserves then remaining for a brief, separate session.
“At the end of practice, you seen the second team just running up and down,’’ said Glen Davis. “We needed that a lot. We’ve only got four more practices left and we need to make a difference in each one. Getting better every day means a lot to our team.’’
At 50-20, the Celtics have matched last season’s win total and are in contention for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
“It would be nice, I guess, come Game 7, the championship, you play your last game at home,’’ West said. “[But] teams have shown you over the last years, it really doesn’t matter. If you’re going to bring it, you’re going to bring it. That’s why it’s seven games, played out. You’ve got to win here and you’ve got to win there.’’
Murphy hobbling Forward Troy Murphy sat out part of practice with a “slight ankle sprain,’’ according to Hill. Murphy was walking with a slight limp on the court after practice . . . Guard Von Wafer (strained right calf) worked out at full speed but his status has not been determined for tonight’s game against Charlotte.
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.