Celtics Notebook

Simple approach nets another win

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / October 12, 2009

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Doc Rivers figured it would be a worthwhile experiment. He put in a play Saturday at practice. Nothing fancy, he said, mostly just for timing’s sake. Something to get the gears turning for the Celtics’ first unit.

He told his starters before the exhibition against the Nets that play was the only one he wanted them to run in the first quarter.

“I just thought it would be a good exercise in the preseason to see if we could run it for the entire quarter,’’ Rivers said after the Celtics’ 100-93 win at TD Garden. “They didn’t do it. But I wanted them to just run the one play. They did pretty well at times with it. After the fifth time the other team pretty much knows what you’re doing, and that’s what I wanted to accomplish. Trying to run things under pressure, you tend to see more stuff.’’

The Celtics slowly have been adding plays offensively. Rivers said he still hasn’t put in plays for Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. What he does have in place is mostly to establish continuity, which center Kendrick Perkins said is coming.

“I think we’re getting better,’’ said Perkins, who scored 4 of his 7 points in the first quarter. “Obviously, we went the whole last part of the season without Kevin [ Garnett]. So it’s good to get back to playing with him. You tend to forget what he likes to do and where he likes the ball. But we looked pretty good. I just think if we cut down on some of the home run passes and just make the simple pass, we’ll be all right.’’

Pierce’s 25 points and 29 minutes were both game highs for the Celtics. He and Perkins were on the floor with Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis, and Rasheed Wallace for a stretch in the second quarter. The familiarity the first unit already has is also an important element for the second unit.

“Being that we’ve been together for a few years now we tend to call plays that some of the guys on the bench don’t know,’’ Pierce said. “But we’re just working on our stuff and trying to get better.

“I think we have great chemistry as it is. We know where guys like to have the ball. We know where guys are cutting, we know each other pretty well. It’s about implementing the other guys and them learning, too.’’

Time management
The Celtics play their first of two preseason back-to-backs tomorrow and Wednesday in New Jersey against the Nets and in Hartford against the Raptors, and Rivers said Pierce, Garnett, Allen, and Wallace would sit out one of the two games.

“That’s a guarantee,’’ said Rivers. “I just don’t know which one. It’s rock, paper, scissors.’’

Feeling better
Garnett played 21 minutes, and afterward said he felt as if he was sprinting better than he had in either of the two previous outings.

“I thought today I got up and down, I tried to put the pressure on their defense and get in the middle and call for the ball,’’ Garnett said. “As far as being aggressive, this is probably the most aggressive I’ve been since I’ve come back and played.’’

One feature absent from Garnett’s arsenal, Rivers said, is explosiveness.

“There’s a couple of plays where a lob would be a dunk,’’ Rivers said. “Instead, he’s catching it and bringing it down, but that’ll come next.’’

Familiar surroundings
Will Blalock clocked 11 minutes for the Nets, scoring his only bucket on a jumper off a pass from Eduardo Najera. Blalock, who played at East Boston High and Notre Dame Prep, was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft by the Pistons out of Iowa State, went overseas to play in 2007, and played both in the D-League and overseas last season before earning an invitation to Nets camp . . . After playing eight minutes Friday against the Knicks, Tony Allen (offseason ankle surgery) sat out yesterday, and Rivers said the guard’s availability is game-to-game. “The plan right now, and honestly that may change, is to leave him at home for this little trip and let him work out with the strength coach and then see how he feels,’’ Rivers said. One lineup Rivers hasn’t had a chance to try but hopes to is Ray Allen, Garnett, Pierce, Wallace, and Eddie House.

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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