Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, and Raef are just a Few of the Interesting Names Doc will be Juggling

October 29, 2005

WALTHAM Doc Rivers was not pleased with the way the Celtics looked during a three-hour practice that started at 10 o'clock yesterday. And that may be putting it mildly. After a brief break, the coach reconvened the players for a second session that lasted almost an hour and a half. He does not want lackadaisical practices to become a habit, especially with a team of impressionable youngsters. The second workout went much better.

"[The first] practice was horrible for the most part," said Rivers. "That's fine. That's why we keep practicing. That's what you have to do sometimes."

    With young players, an altered starting lineup, and a few additions to the rotation, Rivers expects inconsistencies over the course of the regular season. He just wants to keep them to a minimum as far as practice is concerned. Regardless of how the Celtics execute, Rivers wants the effort to be there.

"It was just everything today," said Rivers. "Actually, our veterans were the ones that practiced well. So, that was more disappointing. We talk about this push-pull theory. Usually, it's the young guys that have to push the veterans and the veterans have to pull the young guys along mentally. But today, it was almost the exact opposite. The young guys just weren't there. All of them."

Rivers had thought the Celtics were "very much" ready for the regular season. In the final three exhibition games, the starters appeared in fine form, with Ricky Davis riding a hot shooting streak and Raef LaFrentz and Mark Blount proving capable of posting double figures. The rotation players left the game with sizable leads. Despite foul trouble, Al Jefferson improved with every minute on the court since suffering a sprained left ankle.

And despite their minor practice setback, Rivers believes the Celtics will be ready for Opening Night against New York Wednesday at the TD Banknorth Garden. He understands the ups and downs a young team will experience because of the last season's growing pains.

"When you play young guys, young guys are inconsistent," said Rivers. "We have to find a way to limit that. I'm concerned about it, but I also understand it may be there with each individual player. What I have to try to do is not allow it to be an inconsistent team. I do think we will have inconsistent performances at times from some of our young guys. That's fine. The great thing about this team is then we have another young guy that we can bring in. Then, you have to pray he's not on his bad night as well."

So, yesterday was not a preview of problems to come.

"I'm not upset that we had a bad practice," said Rivers. "It's human. [Yesterday], you expected us to have a bad practice. That's what happens when you take a day off. That still doesn't mean I'm going to accept that. It was even going over [plays]. It was effort. Messing up doesn't bother me at all, if you mess up fast. It's when you do it at a slowpoke pace and then you still mess it up. That bothers me. Now, you're not playing hard or thinking."

After running the players a lot in the second practice, Rivers had no doubt today would work out much better.

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