The Celtics have access to the team’s Waltham practice facility at all hours. Recently, guard Phil Pressey has been going there by himself late at night, trying to stay fresh and ready. Sometimes he’s joined by an assistant coach, but most often, he said, he is alone, using a machine to fire passes to him for jump shots.
“We’ve been playing so much and not practicing much, so I haven’t been able to get practice reps in,” Pressey said. “And there’s nothing like playing. So it’s been tough. I get to the gym and try to stay in shape. And you keep your mind right and prepare for every game like you’re going to play.”
Isaiah Thomas’s back injury has opened up some playing time for Pressey in the short term, and on Friday night, Pressey took advantage of his opportunity. He had 10 points, 10 assists, and 2 steals in 27 minutes, helping the Celtics defeat the Orlando Magic, 95-88. Prior to playing 18 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Grizzlies, Pressey had played a total of just 29 minutes since Feb. 1.
“If he does play, he’s an energizer,” coach Brad Stevens said. “If he can sustain that and not get down, and be confident, there’s always a role for him. And that’s a great compliment.”
Pressey understands that each time he gets an opportunity he is, in a sense, performing for the Celtics — as well as any other team that might be interested in him.
“Whenever I step on the court I know I’m auditioning, whether it’s for here or other teams,” Pressey said. “I feel like every player feels that way, because there are only so many guys that stay with one team their whole careers. You just have to go out there and play your hardest every time you’re on the court, because you never know who’s watching.”
On Friday, Stevens was asked if the prospect of reaching the postseason has energized his players a bit.
“Well, they play for the Boston Celtics,” Stevens said, “so I hope [making the playoffs] is something they expect to do.”
Stevens believes the players are more worried about their play than their current position in the Eastern Conference standings. He added he does not track the movement on a day-to-day basis, either.
“I know where we are in general, but I don’t know how many games we’re out or who plays who or that type of thing,” Stevens said. “But I know we’re in the mix.”
The Celtics are now just one game behind the Charlotte Hornets for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.
Thomas out Saturday
Thomas will not travel to Indiana for Saturday’s game vs. the Pacers, Stevens said.
The point guard remains sidelined with a bruised lower back he suffered in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ win over the Heat last Monday.
Stevens said Thomas did some light jogging on a treadmill Friday, and the team remains hopeful he could return to face the 76ers on Monday.
‘Really nice guy’
Heat center Hassan Whiteside received a one-game suspension for elbowing Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk in the back of the neck Monday. Whiteside later called Olynyk to apologize, and on Friday in Toronto he told reporters that Olynyk’s response had an impact.
“He was a really nice guy,” Whiteside said. “I felt worse about it after I talked to Kelly. He said, ‘Don’t jeopardize your future. You’ve got a bright future ahead of you, so don’t get caught up in that stuff. Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ He was such a nice guy, man, so I feel even worse about it.”
Earlier this season, the Celtics were frequently shuttling players such as James Young, Pressey, and former Celtic Andre Dawkins back and forth between Boston and the team’s D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. But those trips have slowed recently, in part because this bruised Celtics group has needed fresh bodies. “We’d better maintain our legs, and we’re going to need some depth,” Stevens said. “You’re one tweaked ankle or one bad meal away from needing everybody off the bench again for a lot of minutes. So we’ll balance that.” . . . The Celtics wore their green, sleeved St. Patrick’s Day uniforms Friday. They missed 11 of their first 12 shots, but there was no wardrobe change. They will wear the uniforms Saturday at Indiana and at TD Garden on Monday, too.