After opening training camp three days earlier than any other team, the Celtics find themselves with an unusually long duration between games this week. They have an eight-day layoff between their final preseason game and their regular-season opener against the Miami Heat next Tuesday, and as the last days of preseason wound down, the Celtics began their serious preparations for the upcoming season.
But first, they took a break. Since opening camp on Sept. 28, the Celtics have hopped continents, traveled to seven cities in three different countries and played six games in nine days, bringing to mind last year’s wild lockout-condensed season. Before digging in for the start of real games, Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave his charges two consecutive days off on Monday and Tuesday. They will return to the team’s practice facility in Waltham, Mass., for what should be an intense practice on Wednesday.
Eight days is too long to rest, according to several players polled after Sunday’s loss to the Sixers, and far more time than they reasonably need to prepare for the Heat, no matter how formidable the defending champions are. Yet Rivers cautioned against assuming that every day of practice will be devoted to LeBron James, Chris Bosh and some guy named Ray Allen, who Boston fans may or may not have heard of.
“It’s not like football where we’re getting ready for the Monday night game,” Rivers said. “We’re getting ready for 82 games. It would be nice to do it that way. Obviously, we have time to prepare for the first game, but we’ll be talking about the team we play the second game, the third and the fourth game. You really tend to work on your stuff more than the other team’s stuff.”
Once they depart Miami, the Celtics do not meet the Heat again until Jan. 27, so focusing too much on one game could lead to trouble later. After the highly anticipated season opener at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Celtics return to Boston for the home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday before immediately traveling to Washington to play the Wizards on Saturday. They will turn around and host the Wizards at the TD Garden four days later and, after a day off, will have another home-road back-to-back against the Sixers and Bucks, respectively.
With that upcoming schedule, the Celtics might relish the opportunity to rest for a few days. They will not even have a break half this long until the All-Star break in February. But Jeff Green was eager to get right back on the court, even if he understands that teammates like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are fine with recuperating physically before the regular-season grind begins.
“I’d rather just play, but I’m young,” Green said. “Anybody else would probably love this week, but I’m ready to start the season. The preseason was super long. We had great trips in Turkey and Milan and had some good preseason games back here but I’m ready to get the season started.”
The season is now just a week away, and once it arrives, it will feel never-ending. Before they get down to business, the Celtics allowed themselves a couple days of pleasure.