BOSTON — For one night Thursday, Phil Pressey felt like he was back at Missouri.
Sent to the D-League for a one-game stint with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics point guard played more minutes (42), took more shots (25) and scored more points (34) than he had in any of his 31 NBA games this season.
“I felt like I was in college again playing all those minutes,” Pressey said Friday after rejoining the big club for its meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers. “It was just a good time to go down there to work on some of the things I’ve been working on that I haven’t had a chance to work on because I haven’t played as much.”
Pressey never had logged a minute on the NBA’s lower circuit until this week, but he’s played only sparingly for the Celtics this season. The second-year guard has played a total of 16 minutes over Boston’s last six games — including four DNPs — and with the team’s hectic schedule not leaving much time for practice, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge chose to give Pressey a chance for greater floor time in the D-League.
“It was a good opportunity for me to go down there and get some reps and some good conditioning in,” Pressey said, “because we’ve been traveling and playing a lot, and for guys that aren’t playing, we haven’t been able to get a lot of practice time in.
“It’s just an opportunity to get better. To get good conditioning, there’s nothing like playing. You can run on the treadmill, you can do as much conditioning as you want, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like getting on that court and playing 5-on-5.”
Also playing into the decision to send Pressey down was the absence of former Red Claws point guard Tim Frazier, who signed a 10-day contract with the 76ers on Wednesday. Philadelphia will be without starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams for Friday’s game, meaning Frazier should see plenty of action against his old team.
“When you look at the realities of our roster right now without Michael,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said, “you have to expect that (Celtics guards) Marcus Smart and Avery (Bradley) are going to get stuck into us probably in full court … and try to take advantage of the fact that we don’t have a point guard. So with Tim, we met him (Thursday), and we tried to just show him some very basic things. We’d be grateful if he could get the ball over the halfcourt and get us into something.”
That last line, which Brown spoke with tongue in cheek, drew a laugh from the assembled reporters.
Brown said he and his staff will keep things simple for Frazier, who will be making his NBA debut.
“I don’t want him being anything else but excited to be here in the Boston Garden,” the coach said. “To play in the NBA, to have some level of cockiness and swagger and not overburdening him with too much. I don’t want to make this calculus; I wan’t him to go play.”
Thumbnail photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images
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