Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston
Boston's Green Team huddles up during Friday's practice in Waltham.WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics were in 5-on-5 ATO (after timeout) work as practice opened to reporters Friday and the Green (starters) team was down a couple scores to the White (reserves). That's when Green guard Courtney Lee pried away the whiteboard from coach Jay Larranaga.
"I was trying to help Jay, he was struggling over there against the White team," joked Lee. "He was putting us in bad positions, so I tried to help him out."
Soon after Lee scribbled down some thoughts (which Larranaga soon erased), the Green made consecutive baskets, including a Jared Sullinger 3-pointer to even the practice battle against White. A final chance to surge ahead, however, saw Kelly Olynyk's 3-pointer hit back rim.
Quipped Lee, "We went back to Jay and we let him draw up a play and you seen what happened."
After dropping both ends of this week's back-to-back against the Nets and Raptors by two points apiece, coach Brad Stevens emphasized "finishing" during Friday's afternoon session at the team's training center.
"Not necessarily the game, we missed quite a few layups on the last [road] trip," said Stevens "And you think about two two-point losses, those can add up. There were a couple possession where, if we dug deep, we would have been able to finish those better -- finishing at the end of the shot clock and maybe making one more pass or being a little stronger in our last move. So finishing has been an emphasis today, and will continue to be moving forward."
When Boston looks at its advanced offensive data from its six preseason games, it is late-clock opportunities that leap off the page (and not in a good way). Of the team's 57 offensive possessions that have ended with less than 4 seconds on the shot clock, Boston is averaging a mere 0.474 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. That ranks 29th in the league and, by comparison, a team like the Heat rank second at nearly double the production (0.857 points per play).
Asked about end-of-game situations, Stevens added, "I just enjoy it the most when you give everything you have and you try to find a way to win. The nice part is, in a couple of games, it looked like we were down and out, [and] somehow we had a chance to win at the end. That’s a good character trait. Now we’ve got to shore it up so that we don’t get down so much."
Lee was asked if he had a future in coaching after his whiteboard Picassos.
"Listen, man, [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge], all of them, they need to holler at me," joked Lee.
Read on for quick hits from practice, including an injury update on Phil Pressey and Kris Humphries and how that might force Stevens to tweak his lineup on Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
* INJURY REPORT: Phil Pressey sat out Friday's practice after spraining his left ankle in Wednesday's loss in Toronto. Stevens dubbed him "unlikely" to play Sunday night when the Celtics meet the Timberwolves in Quebec as part of the NBA's Canada Series. Said Pressey, "It’s feeling better. I'm getting treatment these next couple days and really trying to get back, trying to get the soreness out of it. But, as of right now, I'm still day-to-day." Asked if he was concerned when the injury occurred, Pressey added, "No, I’ve rolled it before. I know when I roll it, it’s going to hurt for a couple days." Kris Humphries, who sat out Wednesday's game with a sore left foot, was back on the floor Friday and Stevens deemed him "likely" to play versus Minnesota after making it through practice.
* PRESSEY ABSENCE COULD TWEAK LINEUP: The Celtics have operated with the same starting 5 for the past three games in Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Sullinger. The injury to Pressey thins an already barren point guard position and should force Stevens to shuffle the guard rotation Sunday. "You might have two of your point guards out in [Rajon] Rondo and Phil, so we gotta balance that appropriately with the minutes in the preseason as well," said Stevens. "It’s hard to start [Bradley and Crawford, who] will see the majority of the time [at point]. But I do like the way that those guys are playing, and I do like the way they play together." If we're making guesses based on the makeup of the Green team at the end of practice, Stevens could mix Bradley and Lee to start the game and bring Crawford off the bench as the backup point guard. Maybe a more intriguing mix would be letting Green try some time at the 2 and running him in a lineup with Gerald Wallace at small forward.
* A BREAK IN THE (GAME) ACTION: The Celtics played six preseason games in 10 days, including a pair of back-to-backs in a six-day span. Both players and coaches enjoyed a much-needed day away from the court on Thursday. "I’ve never experienced anything like six exhibition games in that many days, all the travel, it’s good to be back and also get a good night’s sleep at home, too, for everybody," said Stevens. "It’s good to be back on the court [Friday], made progress, and hopefully we’ll do so again [Saturday] before we leave."
* BUT WAS IT REALLY AN OFFDAY?: The Celtics might have slept in a little bit on Thursday and the players might have been off the floor as a group, but the coaching staff knows every minute is valuable during the preseason. Said Stevens, "Most of us were in, but we tried to leave early." OK, but what's early to an NBA coach? "I left about 4 o’clock, but usually it’ll be a little bit later than that [in the regular season]. You only have so many [off]days, and you want to take that time. For me, those nights are really important to be home with my kids [Brady, 7, and Kinsley, 4]. At least until they go to sleep, then I can go back to work."