WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics routinely emphasize the value of practice sessions, and while they've been sparse at times over the last few seasons, the current five-game home stand has allowed for consistent floor time on off days, and head coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday his team is enjoying the groove it's settled into.
Boston was set for its fourth practice in the last eight days on Tuesday, and Rivers said the C's have been working on sets and tendencies on both ends of the floor, with an emphasis still on pick-and-roll defense because of how prevalent it is in the league.
"With this rhythm, it's really a nice rhythm to have. Every other day you're practicing," Rivers said before Tuesday's session. "We usually pick one or two things -- one defensive thing, one offensive thing. The other day we did nothing on offense, it was an entire defensive practice. [Tuesday] we'll do one and one. So, every day is pick-and-roll, that can never stop because every team runs them."
While the Celtics battled their fair share of ups and downs on the defensive end over the first 30 games of the season, Rivers acknowledged that he's seen team-wide growth in important areas over the last week-and-a-half.
"Our pulling in defensively, our group, that's the biggest change I think we've made, where we've improved. Instead of guys hugging up on their man, I think we've finally figured out to shrink the floor," Rivers said. "It's taken a lot of games to get there, but I think we're there."
Other notes from pre-practice access on Tuesday:
* Wilcox available: Rivers said forward/center Chris Wilcox will be available for Wednesday's game against the New Orleans Hornets, but that the big man's preference is to still engage in a handful of practices before seeing live action. Rivers expected Wilcox -- who's recovering from a sprained ulner collateral ligament in his right thumb -- to engage in more activity than he did during Sunday's practice.
"You know, [Wilcox] could have played [Monday], but we really didn't want him to," Rivers said. "[Head trainer Ed Lacerte] didn't want him to. And Chris just wants to have a couple more practices. So, he'll be available [Wednesday] for sure. Whether he plays or not, we'll see."
* Father-son time: Much of Tuesday's access focused on Rivers' son, Austin, a rookie on the Hornets, who will be paying their only visit of the year to TD Garden on Wednesday. While the hype has been building for the father-son showdown, Rivers admitted he has mixed emotions over the matchup.
"I don't even know what I'm looking forward to ... but as far as him being on the floor, that's just a different feeling," Rivers said. "I still don't know how I feel about it."
Rivers later added: "It is a different dynamic. My wife and some of the kids are coming in and all these people want to come into the game and I don't even know how to deal with that, so it's just different."