More than four months have passed since the Celtics last played a basketball game. So in addition to removing rust and regaining a rhythm, some players are also focused on reminding the coaching staff of their capabilities.
“Just being away from basketball for so long, you come back and want to show coach what you can do,” backup point guard Brad Wanamaker said. “[There are] roles on the team, and the best teams and players play to their role and fill in. It’s been an adjustment. The first couple of practices was just everyone going at each other and showing what they can do to prove themselves.”
Wanamaker said that roles appeared to be reestablished after just a few days. It hasn’t always been pretty, however.
“When we first got back out there, we were all just so anxious to get back to five-on-five basketball that we were, I guess, overly hyped,” Wanamaker said. “We were just turning the ball over, and just fouling each other every other play. But as the days go on, today we had a good one. We had a really good practice today.”
Wanamaker said that at Wednesday’s session, coach Brad Stevens shuffled scrimmage teams and positions a bit. Stevens understands it’s a work in progress.
“We’ve had moments where we’ve looked good, and we’ve had moments where we’ve looked like we need to practice for another 10 days,” Stevens said. “So hopefully we’ll get there. But I like our guys. Our attitudes are great. I think we’re really fortunate, because we’ve got guys that practice hard, and they get after it.”
Smart back to his old self
Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, said he has not had any complications related to the virus since practice began.
“I thank God for that,” Smart said. “Everything is copacetic for me. My breathing is fine, my heart is fine. It just feels good to be back out here. I think I’m back to myself, if not even getting back to being where I was before the season stopped. So for me personally, nothing’s wrong. Everything is as normal as it’s going to get.”
Smart was asymptomatic after contracting the virus. He has since tested positive for antibodies and donated his plasma to the Red Cross.
Walker misses another practice
Kemba Walker, who has dealt with left knee soreness for much of this season, missed practice again Wednesday. He has yet to take part in a full team workout in Orlando, although Stevens said he had a productive individual workout on Tuesday.
“They’ve got him on a one-day-off, one-day-on plan,” Stevens said. “He did a lot of running yesterday, shooting. He’s shooting a little bit right now. He’s reacted great, his knee feels good, and that’s a good thing. He’s really prioritizing accumulating strength in that knee, so the day-on, day-off thing will be in effect for a while.”
Stevens has said multiple times that the Celtics plan to err on the side of caution over the next few weeks, and that they are primarily focused on getting Walker to full strength in time for the playoffs.
“We feel good about progress he’s made,” Stevens said. “We feel good about the fact he’s having no pain, we feel good about the fact he’s accumulating strength. Strength is the number one thing. We’ve got to make sure he feels as good as possible, because the physical toll of playing these seeding games and the playoffs, especially when you go every other day for the most part, is going to be significant on guys who are playing major minutes. So that’s a huge part of it.”
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach