NEWPORT, R.I. - When the Celtics open their preseason schedule against Philadelphia in Amherst, Mass., next Wednesday, the starting center could be Patrick O'Bryant, filling the role until Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) returns.
In Tuesday's opening practice session at Salve Regina University, O'Bryant worked out with starters Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo.
"It felt good, everybody kind of stepped it up to another notch," O'Bryant said.
The Celtics lost two key players in the offseason - P.J. Brown (retired) and James Posey (New Orleans) - and O'Bryant, who played for Golden State last season, signed as a free agent, projected as a replacement for Brown.
"Patrick gets to play with the starters and that's never a bad thing for him," coach Doc Rivers said. "Obviously, we're going to miss James Posey, but losing P.J. Brown concerns me as much. Patrick has a chance to fill that role. We have Leon [Powe] and [Glen Davis], and they don't have the length but they have other things they can do."
Rivers said the Celtics are behind in physical conditioning, partly because he requested that the veteran players not report early. "I could see it hurt them a little bit," Rivers said. "In the long haul it's the right decision, but in the short term you could see guys were [tired]." . . . Draft choices J.R. Giddens
and Bill Walker
made their first official practice appearances. Giddens made an off-balance lunge to foul Allen on a 3-point attempt near the conclusion of a scrimmage. "It felt like I was a little out of place," Giddens said. "But I don't know the plays yet and I'm just trying to pick things up. I'm doing more thinking than playing right now. As soon as I get back to playing naturally, I'll have a better practice." . . . Allen was encouraged by the first scrimmages. "It feels like we just left the court two weeks ago," Allen said. "We picked up where we left off." Said Pierce, "It feels good to be back out with the guys and building camaraderie like a year ago. You expect the first one to be a little sloppy; it's been that way every year since I've been in the league. It will get better as we go along."
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