“Up and down, he’s getting beat up,’’ Rivers said when asked about Johnson’s progress in practice. “He’s excited when he actually gets the [scrimmage] refs to come on the floor, I’ll tell you that. But he did a couple of good things today. He’s starting to learn who he is. He knows he’s a jump shooter and he’s starting to become comfortable enough to take that shot.’’
“Today was the first day when he picked-and-popped, he caught it and shot it,’’ Rivers said. “The other two days he tried to make another play and got bumped off the spot, so I think he’s starting to simplify his game.’’
When asked if he expected Johnson to generate an interior game, Rivers said, “Nah. I mean, he’ll dunk because he’s athletic as heck, so we’re going to run stuff to get him rolling to the basket and throw it up in the air and he’ll go get it. But as far as post presence? Not really, but that’s fine. We don’t need that. We’ll try to get that somewhere else.’’
Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo also did not work out, but are expected to return in “a couple days,’’ Rivers said.
“Paul went [Tuesday] and then his foot got sore,’’ Rivers said. “So we just decided we’ll shut him down for a couple days.
“Rondo did some stuff [yesterday] but we didn’t want him running with a sprained ankle. It’s too early to push that.
“Not having two of your starters really hurts more than the Jeff thing because now the bench can’t get together because two of the bench players are starting. Keyon [Dooling] has yet to play with the second unit except for the first day. Marquis [Daniels] or Sasha [Pavlovic] are there on the first unit.
“It affects everybody. It affects Brandon Bass because instead of having Keyon making decisions, you have Avery [Bradley] and E’Twaun [Moore]. Trust me, the veterans know that, so they’re putting pressure on the bigs because they know our young guards are struggling getting them the ball. So they’re taking them out of the practice, and that’s frustrating.’’
“Kevin had a phenomenal practice [Wednesday], so that was good to see,” Rivers said. “He had his rhythm. He must have had a great pep talk after he made that tortilla that he had yesterday. That was one hell of a tortilla, by the way. I’ve never eaten a tortilla with all that stuff in it. I’ve clearly missed out. I told him, I didn’t know you fried it and microwaved it. I didn’t know you do both of those things to tortillas.”
When a reporter jokingly told Rivers that he clearly doesn’t know anything about cooking, Rivers nodded in agreement.
“Clearly. That’s what [Garnett] told me too,” he said. “He said, ‘You just don’t know enough about it.’ I said, ‘OK.’”
Rivers raved about both Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal after Wednesday’s session. Those concerned about whether O’Neal is fit to handle the rigors of a full season can rest a little easier (for now anyway) with a positive initial report from Rivers. “The other guy that’s been phenomenal has been J.O. He looks great,” Rivers said. “It’s amazing the difference watching him at this time last year in camp, just the fact that he knows stuff, and he’s comfortable.”
Not only is he back with the C’s, but the surgery he had following the injury has Daniels in the best health of his career.
“I feel stronger,” Daniels told CSNNE.com. “I feel like I can go to the basket a lot stronger, and just take more contact as opposed to last year or years before where I was like, trying to shy away from it. Now I’m just getting loose and trying to just play my game.”
“He’s playing great,” Rivers said of Daniels, who missed much of last season following a scary collision that resulted in a bruised spinal cord. “He’s moving well. He’s not afraid at all of taking charges, being physical and that’s great.”
When E’Twaun Moore returned from playing basketball with Brian Scalabrine in Italy, the Celtics rookie brought with him perhaps one of the greatest songs you can’t find on iTunes.
The unofficial Italian Scal anthem.
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