WALTHAM, Mass. -- Riding a four-game winning streak, the Celtics took the practice floor Tuesday to prepare for Wednesday's bout with the new-look Toronto Raptors, who acquired forward Rudy Gay in a three-team trade last week.
Boston hasn't seen Toronto since a 107-89 victory late in November, and head coach Doc Rivers said the Raptors are an improved team in the wake of their recent trade.
"Well they're better," Rivers said. "They've added a great scorer to a team that could already score, even though they hadn't been scoring much this year. And (Kyle) Lowry, now full-time, they're running a lot more. So, they're really pushing the pace. And that may be because they haven't had a lot of practice, so they don't have anything to run. But now that they have, they're going to be a much better team."
The Raptors are 1-1 since Gay entered the lineup, but did post a commanding 98-73 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in his debut.
"I've watched a couple highlights with (Gay) and (DeMar) DeRozan and they seem pretty explosive," said Paul Pierce. "I've seen them put up some numbers... So when you add a talent like Rudy Gay to go along with DeRozan and a healthy Kyle Lowry, and they have some very good young prospects, they could be dangerous."
Read on for more notes notes from Tuesday's pre-practice access. For all the talk about the "silly" trade chatter, hop HERE.
* NO UPDATE ON RONDO: Rivers said he has "no idea" when Rajon Rondo will undergo surgery to repair his torn right ACL, which will keep him out for the remainder of the season. "I have no idea, to be honest," Rivers said.
* CELTICS AS UNDERDOGS? Rivers said he didn't know if the Celtics should be viewed as underdogs in the wake of losing Rondo and rookie Jared Sullinger (back surgery) for the rest of the season, but did stress his team hasn't embraced such a mindset. "You know, I don't know. I don't even know. I can tell you we don't talk about it," Rivers said. "It's not like we're sitting around saying, 'We're the underdogs.' I think teams still get up to beat us, no matter who's on the floor, and that's a byproduct of what's happened here over the last couple of years. But our guys, I really don't. I think they think they're good and they are good. I think they just show up to play."
* WEIGHT OFF HIS SHOULDERS: When asked about veterans like Kevin Garnett, Pierce, and even the Lakers' Kobe Bryant remaining productive well into their 30s, Rivers admitted the offseason conditioning routines today differ drastically from when he was a player. Rivers noted that his teams didn't even have official weight rooms until he was almost 10 years into his career. "I think (players today) are far better conditioned than we were. Well, I guess they are," Rivers said. "They just do so much more stuff. We played basketball all summer. It's funny, I don't even think it's legal what we did now. Really. I played in the Chicago summer league, I played in the New York summer league, I went to (Los Angeles), and I just went from summer league to summer league and played all summer. Now, I think there's two summer leagues -- and those aren't team summer leagues, those are just pick-up games with all pros, and that's all we did. Now, these guys are running mountains and lifting weights and hell, I didn't even have a weight room until my ninth year in the NBA. I'm talking about the teams that I played on. There wasn't even a weight room. I mean, think about that. So, I think it's changed a little bit. We can make the argument about whether it's better or worse -- that's for another day -- as far as playing basketball makes you a better basketball player. But at least that's what I was taught."
* DOC ON SUPER BOWL: Rivers picked the San Francisco 49ers to win Sunday's Super Bowl and joked with reporters that he lost a bit of money on the outcome. Rivers had predicted a three-point game (the Baltimore Ravens won, 34-31), but didn't see Baltimore coming out on top. "I lost a lot. The kids' inheritance definitely took a dip," Rivers cracked. "I did say (a three-point game). I called that. Just, wrong team."