WALTHAM — The Celtics’ first training camp workout looked a lot like an open tryout this afternoon with a dizzying number of players (18 actually) making full use of their reversible, green and white practice jerseys. During a three hour-plus practice in which every player received ample court time, coach Doc Rivers and his assistants looked at a number of different combinations while emphasizing defense and conditioning.
Some intriguing highlights from all the mixing and matching included Tony Allen taking on rookie Rajon Rondo. Undrafted free agent Akin Akingbala impressed those in the gym by taking a hard charge from center Dwayne Jones. Near the end of practice, the Green team consisted of Paul Pierce, Wally Szczerbiak, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and Ryan Gomes in what could be a glimpse of the starting lineup Doc Rivers hopes to use opening night. That version of the Green team scrimmaged in the halfcourt against a White team comprised of Rondo, Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Gerald Green and Al Jefferson, perhaps the players Rivers hopes will separate from the pack and become the rest of the rotation.
Obviously, Delonte West, who sat out practice with a sore lower back will be part of the mix. But Rivers doesn’t know when West will be healthy enough for practice. Rivers expects it could be a couple more days. Telfair also felt his back tighten during the Celtics’ first workout. The point guard could not participate in the end of practice sprints, though he expects to be back on the floor tomorrow. Gomes also did not run sprints due to a strained left groin, but he also should be back practicing tomorrow as well.
Of the big men doing sprints, Michael Olowokandi and Brian Scalabrine looked impressive, leading the pack for a couple sets. Meanwhile, Pierce found running up and down so easy he finished running backwards.
While Telfair, Gomes, West and Scalabrine are assured of roster spots, the same cannot be said of Akingbala, Olowokandi and Kevin Pittsnogle. Rivers doesn’t have a timetable for making cuts, though he hopes to trip down the training camp roster sooner rather than later to make numbers more manageable.