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Slow start to new season

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics had just about as many bodies on the perimeter of the court watching the activity Saturday as they did actually participating. For the second straight day, Boston operated with a mere nine available bodies as those with pending deals were left waiting (again) for final league approval.

"We still don’t have a lot of guys on the floor yet, we're working on it," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "It’s really crazy. We’ve had two practices and you really haven’t had a practice. We went hard today, we went long. I thought our guys did their best, but it's tough playing with nine guys. And we asked [assistant coach] Ty Lue, or whoever, to just stand in the corner and act like a 10th guy."

The Celtics have 17 bodies in camp at the moment. Keyon Dooling, whose trade from Milwaukee became official last night, joined the team on the floor Saturday, but Paul Pierce sat out part of the session with a sore heel, keeping the participating bodies at nine (Rivers suggested Pierce would return to practice Sunday or Monday).

Forced to observe were Jeff Green (whose one-year deal received league approval shortly after the session) and rookies JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. Camp invites Gilbert Brown, Michael Sweetney, and Jamal Sampson also watched the practice from the sidelines. Brandon Bass, obtained from the Magic in a side-and-trade deal Friday, was hinted to be in the building, but is also awaiting final approval.

"Paperwork," sighed Rivers. "In the league’s defense, they’re backlogged -- there’s hundreds [of transactions]. All the teams are making the same moves at the same time, it's just hard."

And hard for Rivers, whose desperately trying to get rolling with his team's first regular-season game just 15 days away.

"It’s hard. But it is what it is," said Rivers. "I’m assuming -- and I haven't read or looked -- but I think there are teams with just five or six guys, so at least we have a head-start on them. Listen, it is what it is. I will say this, our guys have handled it very well."

Rivers had noted on Friday his guys were wiling to trudge through mundane drills instead of the preferred 5-on-5 work and he thought that was an encouraging sign.

"It could be this type of season," he said. "It's going to be a season of mental toughness. That's going to be a key factor, for every team, not just us. I’m talking about practices like this, lots of games, travel -- this could be one of those years and you have to be ready for it. What I was happiest about, even with all the distractions, the guys did what we asked them to do [Friday] -- playing 3-on-3, doing stuff like that, just breaking it down. There's no use trying to put anything in, really, but we did any way, and they still tried to do it.

"If that’s how they’re going to be mentally all year, we’ll have a heck of a year."

Rivers was asked if he likes the potential combinations given the additions the Celtics have made, including those potentially pending.

"I’d just like to use them," he said. "I’d like to see them. I’d like to see them before the 25th. The way this is going, the first time I may see the whole team together will be on Christmas Day. It’s frustrating right now. But like I told our guys, this is what it is. It’s for everybody, so we’ll just deal with it."