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The Celtics hope they have reason to celebrate again Friday night in Philadelphia.PHILADELPHIA -- After a light offday Thursday, the Celtics reconvened on the court at Wells Fargo Center for a morning shootaround in advance of Friday's Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers. A handful of notes from morning access:
* For the first time in a while, health didn't dominate the conversation. It's pretty much assumed at this point that all the dinged up bodies -- including Paul Pierce (left MCL sprain), Ray Allen (right ankle bone spurs), and Avery Bradley (sore left rotator cuff) -- will be playing through their aches and pains. All 15 guys were on the floor as the team prepared to launch into shootaround.
* Pierce did sport a bulky stabilizing brace over his left knee. Boston's captain, who has clearly grown tired of the questions about his health and has lately resorted to saying he's fine, clarified that he is unlikely to wear the brace during Game 4. Pierce politely suggested it was strictly precautionary by noting, "Well, when I first hurt (the knee) it was in a shootaround, why have another accident at shootaround?" Pierce suffered the MCL sprain when he tripped over a teammate's foot before Game 4 of a first-round series against the Hawks.
* While health wasn't exactly in focus, Rivers did spend a lot of time talking about the team's decision this postseason to stay off the court on offdays, especially given the quick turnarounds with games staggered just about every other day. "Well, we’re just old," he quipped. "We’ve done that (each game), for the most part. With the way the series is constructed so far, we’ve yet to go on the floor between games. It’s just not enough time for recovery with our legs. If we were younger, we’d be able to do that, but with this team, we’ve learned through the season, they need days off."
Rivers was quick to point out that a day off doesn't necessarily mean the entire team is lounging by the pool with their Kindles.
"When we don’t practice, guys still work on their games," said Rivers. "We didn’t do anything yesterday, but Kevin was over there shooting. Guys, especially veterans, more than young guys, understand what they need to do to keep them in rhythm. I think for young guys, days off are bad, because I don’t think they get that. They think a day off is a day off, they don’t understand what gets you to the next day or the next game. And I think a lot of our veteran guys, if they need a day off, they take it off. Ray rarely takes a day off; he’s running somewhere -- down the street, riding a bike; Paul’s on the treadmill yesterday at the hotel. They just get their bodies. But they have the experience in that, so that’s an advantage for them."
* Rivers also noted that Garnett still got some shots up during the offday hoping to maintain his rhythm after a dominant Game 3 performance. When a Philadelphia reporter joked that 76ers fans will be thrilled to hear Garnett was working on his shot, Rivers laughed and noted, "Kevin’s a creature of habit. The one thing we do know, he reminds me a lot of Patrick Ewing, who I played with. Days off, even though he needed them, were bad, because it would take him out of rhythm. So they both would always go to the gym."
* While Rivers initially griped about the spacing of the first four games of this series, Pierce said it's actually worked out quite well, especially by avoiding the back-to-back games this round. "I think it’s great for us," he said. "We haven’t played particularly well in back-to-back situations; the two back-to-back games we came here (in Philadelphia during the regular season), we got blown out. I think it works to our benefit. Not having back-to-backs and not having long layoffs -- I don’t know how it goes down when we have three or four days off, but I kinda like the every-other day (schedule), it keeps us in a good rhythm."
A two-day break looms before Monday's Game 5 in Boston.