Celtics Hope Extra ZZZs Put More Spring in Their Step

Celtics Hope Extra ZZZs Put More Spring in Their StepDoc Rivers might not have as many rings as Phil Jackson, but the Celtics’ coach is giving the Zen Master a run for the title of most innovative motivator in the NBA.

First, Rivers introduced his team to ubuntu — the African idea that “we” is bigger than “me.” That worked out pretty well for the Celtics, who won their 17th world championship in 2008.

Now Rivers is hoping more sleep translates into Banner No. 18.

According to The Boston Globe, the Celtics are following the advice of Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, a sleep medicine specialist from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and starting their practices later in the day to help players stay rested and fresh over the course of the season.

"Let them sleep in" has become the new mantra for Boston, and it makes sense.

Sleep is as important a component of health as eating, exercise and good hygiene. The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep to achieve optimum performance, but we all know how tough that can be sometimes. With so much going on in people’s lives these days, getting six uninterrupted hours of shuteye almost qualifies as a miracle.

But sleep deprivation is no joke. When a person gets only four hours of sleep a night, day after day, week after week, sleep debt accumulates. You feel groggy, your head feels like an anvil, and you’re walking around in an unproductive daze, as useful as an umbrella in hurricane. The only way to "pay off" the sleep debt is with sleep. But sometimes, that is impossible. It’s a vicious cycle.

Doc Rivers has found out a way to break that cycle.

Forget about those early-morning shootarounds. What good is it having half-awake players going through the motions for a game that is more than eight hours later?

“I think if you're done with your work, I don't know why you need a shootaround,” Rivers told the Globe. “Guys are fresher, I think, if we walk it over right before [the game]. They pick it up, and they actually have a better chance of remembering it, rather than at 10 a.m. A lot of this comes from the sleep deprivation guy, this is the main reason we're doing it. Clearly, our practices this year have been noticeably better because they are later, they got more sleep, more rest.”

The NBA season is a grind. Combine 82 games with thousands of miles of travel over more than six months, and the human body is going to get tired — even for world-class athletes. Every advantage counts. No detail is insignificant when it comes to looking for an edge over the competition in the marathon race for an NBA championship.

A little extra sleep won’t hurt, and that's just what Doc is ordering for the Celtics this season.

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