Celtics making most of rare practice time

WALTHAM, Mass. -- With a veteran core, the Boston Celtics have delicately limited the amount of practice time they've logged in recent seasons -- particularly last year during the lockout-condensed schedule -- but a home-heavy schedule this month has allowed the team to engage in multiple full-team offday sessions.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers thinks that's one of the reasons his team has turned around its fortunes during its current season-high five-game winning streak.

"It’s been really good," Rivers said. "We’ve had a bunch [of practices] in a row. We took yesterday off, got back at it today. You can see it in the results. I think guys are getting rhythm on both ends, guys are able to put in a lot of individual work as well, which I think is important in the middle of the season."

Rivers admitted it's difficult with this team to determine when to sneak in the offday sessions. But Boston has made the most of offdays, even slipping in a rare session after a road game earlier this week following a big win in New York.

The Celtics practiced for the fifth time this month on Sunday and that might have been the season total a year ago. The team has found other ways to maximize rest, including morphing morning shootarounds into pregame walkthroughs at the arena.

"Practice helps adjoin chemistry," Kevin Garnett said. "Obviously, the more reps, the more opportunities you get in your system, the more familiar you are with it. Practice is never a bad thing, put it like that. Although we value rest around here, practice is very valuable."

Echoed veteran Jason Terry: "I think it's kept us sharper. It keeps everybody more in tune with the game plan. And it's repetition, there's nothing like repetition in a game-like environment."

With Chris Wilcox returning to practice, Boston was expected to have 12 bodies on the floor (the max available with rookie Fab Melo on D-League assignment in Maine and two open roster spots). That rare dose of full health has allowed players to settle into their roles and become more familiar with their units during offday sessions.

"Chemistry doesn't happen overnight," Jeff Green said. "You've heard KG say that all season long. Chemistry is something you've got to work on and we're using this practice time that we have, and this homestand that we have, to get closer and build chemistry. That's what we need to continue to do in order to get closer and continue to have a positive outcome on the floor."

Garnett admits everything has fallen into place for Boston, particularly since the return of Avery Bradley at the start of the month.

"I guess everything's kind of aligned perfectly," Garnett said. "But, more importantly, the play and how we're playing and the rhythm that we're in. We've got a couple weeks before All-Star coming up here, so we always like to be riding into All-Star with nice momentum. So, you know, we're kind of seeing where this thing goes, but we like to take it a game at a time. But it's good momentum."