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With four days off, Celtics talking about practice

01.07.12 at 1:11 am ET

The Celtics just played their eighth game in 13 days, emerging with a 4-4 record, capped by their worst offensive performance of the season, and all Ray Allen can think about is the next one.

‘€œI just always like playing,’€ said Allen, whose 23 points on 11 shots were the lone bright spot in an 87-74 loss to the Pacers. ‘€œIt’€™s great to be able to practice, go over plays, talk about certain things and kind of reinstitute defensive philosophies and execution on offense, but you learn full tilt in game situations.”

Allen won’t get that chance until the C’s host the Maverick Wednesday. In the meantime, we talking about practice.

‘€œI know you guys are going to write a blog about how terrible we are offensively, but we just haven’€™t practiced,” said center Jermaine O’Neal. “There’€™s just no way you can run the guys when you’€™re playing every other day, because it’€™s going to effect us on game days. Now, we get a day off to rest our bodies and we’€™re back out working.

“We get a couple days to really bang bodies, to really run our sets,” added O’Neal. “We’€™ve been coming in and doing dummy drills and stuff like that so guys can get contact, but there’€™s nothing like competing — competing in practice, getting used to screens, holding guys off to get rebounds, rotations and all of that. Basically, we’€™ve had to talk our way through it. Sometimes you can get away with it, and sometimes you can’€™t. Tonight, we didn’€™t.’€

Despite returning all five starters from last season, the Celtics have plenty of work to do, trying to incorporate an entirely revamped bench into the Celtics way of life. That work continues Sunday, after one day off.

‘€œWe haven’€™t found our identity yet,’€ said backup guard Keyon Dooling. ‘€œI think this is a good way for us to get a little bit of a break. It was a bad loss for us tonight at home, but it gives us some extra motivation to get back in the gym on Sunday. We’€™ll be in the gym. We’€™ll be working and trying to get better. We’€™ve got to embrace where we are. In order to help this team, we’€™ve got to come in and do something positive. And tonight we weren’€™t positive at all.’€

A two-week training camp after the NBA lockout didn’t help, so the next four days are a seminar in team chemistry.

‘€œIt’€™s about building,” said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. “It’€™s about getting better throughout the course of the season, and we know we’€™re not playing our best basketball, even in the wins. It’€™s going to take some more practice time to really get acclimated. Maybe you add Mickael Pietrus into the mix next week some time. I think he’€™ll help us out a lot. We’€™re a long way away from where we want to be, but we have plenty of time left in the season.’€

That’s not entirely true. The Celtics won’t get this opportunity again. Not including the All-Star break from Feb. 22-28, the they won’t have four consecutive days off the rest of the season. They do have five two-day breaks and one three-day break, but that comes prior to the final two games of the regular season in late April. Otherwise, they’re playing every other night, if not on back-to-back nights.

‘€œI think it’€™s coming at the right time,” said Kevin Garnett. “Practice makes perfect. We’€™re going to exercise that. We’€™re looking for to the days actually, because there hasn’€™t been a lot of practice time. …

‘€œIt’€™s essential now,” he added. “You don’€™t have a lot of time. Practice time is more valuable than anything, so when you’€™re in there, you want to be productive. You obviously want to get things done. That’€™s the way it’€™s been since I’€™ve been here. I see these days coming up as nothing less than that.’€

The Celtics have as many losses in the first eight games this season as they did in the first eight games of the previous four seasons combined, so this next few days could be just what the Doc ordered.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Keyon Dooling
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