BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics tipped off training camp on Wednesday, and their first day of practice ended with a highlight that Boston fans hope to see a lot when the season rolls around.
Kyrie Irving capped off Boston’s first scrimmage by draining a go-ahead three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock, giving the Celtics’ starters (Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford) a victory over the team’s reserves. It was the end to an extremely busy day for the C’s, with head coach Brad Stevens wasting no time to implement lots of new tricks that he came up with over the summer.
“Brad put in a (expletive) ton today, but that’s who he is. He’s a basketball genius for me,” Irving said after the session. “When he’s out there teaching us, you just appreciate it.”
“We put in a ton this morning, and with the amount of guys we have back, I think that was appropriate,” explained Stevens. “”They can pick up some of the things we did last year, and some of the new tweaks that we’re doing they picked up pretty fast.”
The number of players returning from last year’s squad is a stark difference to the beginning of last season, when just four players returned from the previous season. This season, the Celtics have 12 players back from a team that came up just short of a trip to the NBA Finals.
One of those faces is Gordon Hayward, who went through his first day of practice since last October.
“I think just being comfortable with everybody; knowing the staff, knowing the players, knowing the defensive system, what we’re trying to accomplish — all of that stuff is a lot easier this go-around,” said Hayward.
The forward said there were only a few occasions where he landed on his left ankle and thought back to last season’s injury.
“I think that will slowly go away,” said Hayward, adding that it was more awkwardness than any lingering pain.
With Hayward and Irving back in the mix, the Celtics are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Their lineup and rotation are still a few weeks from being completely ironed out (though Tuesday’s starting five is the likeliest to take the floor Oct. 16 against Philadelphia), but their depth will be on display in the next three weeks leading up to the new season.
“We have so much talent,” said Hayward. “We were pretty even throughout the scrimmage. I think that stood out more than anything, just different guys playing throughout the whole game.”
Stevens said they won’t be adding too much more throughout camp, instead focusing on the details on the new plays and sets implemented on Tuesday. One thing is certain, the Celtics are not going to rest on last season’s success or all the preseason hype that is surrounding the team.
“Human nature would suggest after a good season that you skip steps and don’t control all the things that got you to where you went, but the fact we were still smarting from that last loss should give you something of that human nature,” said Stevens. “We don’t play hard the right way together, we’ll get beat and the game will be honest with us. Then we have to go back to square one. We embrace all of that stuff, then we have a chance to have a really good year.”
The Celtics tip off their preseason slate Friday night in Chapel Hill, North Carolina against the Hornets.