Camp notes: Rajon Rondo makes progress
|12.16.11 at 2:10 pm ET|
While the Celtics wait on Jeff Green, they have been dealing with other camp injuries. Paul Pierce has missed most of the practice time with a sore right heel and he won’t play Sunday against the Raptors in their first exhibition game. Rajon Rondo, however, may be good to go after spraining his right ankle over the weekend.
Rondo is scheduled to play in the team’s scrimmage on Friday night and if all goes well, he should get some playing time on Sunday.
Rivers said that he won’t hold out his other starters, especially in the first half on Sunday. Without much time to get ready for the season, he feels that they need their reps.
“I think guys are going to play and they may play normal minutes,” Rivers said. “We’re going to play them. I don’t know about extended. Right now after four minutes is extended for everybody. We’re going to play them decent minutes. First half for sure.”
The coach isn’t too worried about Pierce yet, mainly because of the kind of player he is.
“I’m always worried when guys haven’t played,” Rivers said. “You don’t want any of them to miss [time], but if there was one to miss practices it would be Paul just because of his ability to play. He’s a natural scorer. The one you’d like the least is probably Kevin [Garnett] because he’s a system guy. He needs repetitions.”
Rivers said that Garnett has been solid in the first week of camp, which is a positive sign. “He usually has poor practices to begin with, he plays hard, but not well. Now he’s back early so that’s good.”
Without much time to prepare, Rivers said that he’s looking more at coaching styles than personnel as the season approaches. His feeling is that the short prep period won’t lead to many system changes. Rivers even acknowledged that the short prep time caused his team to scuttle a few system changes they had planned.
One area that could be affected by Green’s absence is the Celtics plans to play smaller lineups.
“We have enough players,” Rivers said. “That’s why we have Sasha [Pavlovic] and Marquis [Daniels] to play [small forward]. What it would take us away from is going small. We gameplanned all summer about the small lineup we were going to run with Kevin and Jeff and if he [can't play], that’s gone.”
Rivers praised center Greg Stiemsma for his defensive approach before Thursday’s practice. Now he wants him to be more comfortable with his offense.
“We had to remind him he can shoot,” Rivers said. “He’s an excellent shooter from the elbows. Defensively he’s there.”
Stiemsma has experience, having played in the D-League and overseas. Rivers had a good analogy about the differences between other leagues and the NBA.
“It’s like golf when you’re playing with a club pro and then you go out and play with a real pro,” Rivers said. “You thought the club pro was good and then you think, ‘Wow there’s a big difference.’ I think Stiemsma sees that. You get in an NBDL game and then you get in this speed there’s a whole different level.”
Still, Rivers likes that Stiemsma is already a pro. “He’s over all the stuff and that’s part of the college stuff,” Rivers said. “They get built up. In a lot of systems they’re the guy and now you’re telling them pick, roll, rebound.”
Reminded that Stiemsma already had that drilled into his head by Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, Rivers replied, “Bo told him the truth.”