NEWPORT, R.I. — The Celtics opened training camp with a three-hour practice and by the end of it even coach Doc Rivers had beads of sweat dripping down his face. The temperature gym at Salve Regina University had something to do with it.
“Way too warm,” Rivers said. “Felt like the Garden in the 80s.”
But more than anything the Celtics worked harder than they had since last season ended, and the need for extra conditioning showed, Rivers said.
“They didn’t hold up very well honestly, and it was a long practice,” Rivers said. “There was a lot of talking as you can tell from my voice. We won’t go three hours everyday, but we needed it.
“Most everybody made it through practice. I thought the last hour of practice you could see that they hadn’t run for three hours in a long time. So we have to get better.”
There were some exceptions. Rajon Rondo, who played through the summer with USA Basketball, can run all day, Rivers said. And Kevin Garnett looked “phenomenal.” But on the whole, Rivers saw a group that could be in better shape. The team will come back tonight for a second session.
“We’re just going to do some walkthrough stuff,” Rivers said. “We may do some conditioning, because I think that we’re not in great shape personally. I don’t think that we’ve come back in the condition that we want. So we’re going to have to come back in better shape.”
Rivers didn’t single out Shaquille O’Neal but when the big man was asked, he said, “There’s a difference between being in shape and being in basketball shape.”
Being a little more than three months removed from the Finals, Rivers anticipated the long season taking a toll and the short summer not being enough to recover. Several players showed up in Waltham early despite Rivers encouraging them to stay back. This, he said, was why he told them not to rush back.
“I didn’t want them in the gym early,” Rivers said. “So we knew by doing that, that conditioning may be a factor. They’re not in bad shape at all, but I told them, they’re not in Celtic shape, and that’s different.”
PERKINS LOUD FROM THE SIDELINES
Clifford Ray isn’t in training camp, but Kendrick Perkins did his best impersonation. As soon as the doors opened for the portion of practice open to the media, Perkins’ voice boomed from the far side of the gym.
“That’s hard work!” he screamed as Kevin Garnett scrambled for a looseball.
Perkins was able to join the team for training camp. It’s still uncertain whether he’ll travel with the team during the season, though he said Rivers would like him to be there.
“I know Doc’s high on me with that as far as with my spirit and my communication off the court, talking to guys. I think he likes me on the bench,” Perkins said.
Rivers, who endured his share of injuries throughout his career including an ACL tear like Perkins’ while with the Knicks, said “I’m sure it’s difficult. That’s going to be tough for Perk. I’ve been there. That’s going to be a tough thing to do. He’s a great kid, he’ll get through it, but it’s not going to be easy.”
Jamar Smith, Stephane Lasme, and Mario West were there training camp invites who worked out today, filling out a unit with Luke Harangody and Tony Gaffney. Chris Johnson watched from the side … Oklahoma men’s basketball coach Jeff Capel brought his staff to Newport to watch the first day of camp. He and Rivers had a long chat after the session — it wasn’t about Austin Rivers … Rajon Rondo’s minutes will decrease this coming season. “Nothing drastic,” Rivers said. But he won’t log as many miles as last year. … Asked if he was going to see the mansions here, Shaquille O’Neal said, ‘Nah, I’m cool.’ Ray Allen joked, “You know, those are the kinds of houses he lives in.”