Brad Stevens, Celtics Take Measured Approach To Late-Season Practices


Rajon Rondo, Jorge Gutierrez

WALTHAM, Mass. — Despite being the Boston Celtics’ home away from Causeway Street, the Healthpoint practice facility has gotten sparing use recently.

For the first time since early March, the Celtics convened for an official practice on Monday. Part of a four-day break between games, the session provided a chance for players to run live drills and put up shots under something approaching game speed, rather than the morning shootarounds and hotel ballroom walkthroughs they have relied on for the last two weeks.

The shortage of practicing isn’t entirely due to lack of opportunity. Allowing for typical off days after back-to-backs, the Celtics have had seven days since March 5 that they could have held practice. But Celtics coach Brad Stevens has opted not to hold formal sessions, instead allowing players to come in on their own to work out or lift — something he says the players almost universally have done.

“It’s what I’ve always done,” Stevens said. “I’ve always erred on the side of more time off their feet, because I think freshness plays a critical a role as anything else.”

Infrequent practices are familiar around here. Former coach Doc Rivers was well-known to be practice-averse, often taking mini-vacations midseason when there was a two-day break in the schedule. It worked for Rivers, though, and at Butler it worked for Stevens. “If you have a pretty good sense of who your team is,” full-bore practices aren’t a requirement, Stevens said.

Don’t go equating strong practices with game success, either, or vice versa. Stevens has come out raving about his team’s practice at least three times, and all three times the Celtics have lost. Now, with the season winding down, the Celtics are looking to flip the old saying and hoping that a lack of practice makes perfect.

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