BOSTON -- Despite the fact that Troy Murphy hadn't been on an NBA court for nearly two months, Celtics coach Doc Rivers wanted to put him through a bit of a Boston basketball boot camp. He gave the 30-year-old forward a 15-minute tutorial during the team's walk-through before Wednesday's game with the Phoenix Suns, then played coy about potential playing time, knowing full well he was going to thrust him into the fire if the situation allowed.
An early double-digit lead offered the perfect opportunity for heightened activity, but Rivers didn't have the heart to be a drill sergeant.
"[Murphy] looked good, but he was dying out there," Rivers said with a laugh after the game. "And I was going to keep him out there for a while. I wanted to run him into the ground today, just get him used to things. But his lungs didn't allow for that."
Murphy logged 14 minutes, 11 seconds of action, missing all three shots he took, but he chipped in one point and two rebounds. He got blocked on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter by Marcin Gortat, the best indication that his legs simply aren't where he needs them to be.
But after tasting victory as part of a new championship-craving atmosphere, Murphy wasn't complaining.
"Just rust, it's been a whirlwind last couple of days," he said. "I'm excited to finally get under way here. I'm looking forward to practice [Thursday] and getting a practice under my belt. Each day I'm feeling like it's going to get better."
Murphy admitted he had no clue about the offensive sets, looking to the bench for guidance most times down the court.
"I pretty much didn't have any clue where to go," Murphy admitted. "I stayed in the same spot half the time."
Glen Davis compared him to Rasheed Wallace (in a good way), noting he can spread the floor and shoot the 3-pointer. Rivers is likewise encouraged by the brief debut and looks forward to really stretching Murphy's lungs in the coming days.
A veteran of 639 regular-season games, Murphy has never appeared in a postseason contest and, after securing a buyout from the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, landing with a contender was on top of his priority list.
"That was the most important factor, going to a team that was going to not only be in the playoffs, but for a long playoff run," said Murphy. "Looking at the teams, the Celtics have all the potential to do that."
So do the Miami Heat, who also were finalists for his services, but Murphy liked what he heard as Rivers delivered a recruitment pitch earlier this week.
"I think it's the way they play," Murphy said. "I think, watching both teams, I fit in better with the way Boston plays, the way they spread the floor, and I just like the way that they play."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.