With other NBA teams in states that don't have the stay-at-home restrictions of Massachusetts getting a jump on the Celtics by returning to their practice facilities for carefully controlled workouts in the coming days, C's coach Brad Stevens has stressed to his team to stay ready.
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"We’re basically on call," Stevens told a group of Celtics season tickets holders on a Zoom video conference call on Friday. "and so our talking point with the team has been trying to stay a week away from your best shape at all times because when we do come back, and ultimately are going to practice, we're going to have to plan those practices with our sports science group appropriately.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets returned to their facilities on Friday and other teams plan to return this week. No more than four players can work out at a time. The Massachusetts stay-at-home order is in place until May 18.
Among the ways Stevens has maintained contact with his players is through multiple team video conferences and virtual workouts in small groups since the NBA shutdown began on March 11. The coach said the layoff and disruption of routines is something everyone is facing through the coronavirus crisis, not just elite athletes.
"It's not an athlete thing, it's not a coach thing, it's an everyone thing," Stevens told Celtics.com host Amanda Pflugrad and season-ticket holders. "And so everybody is dealing with that, and I think that as an athlete, the different curveballs that come out of left field that you get used to hitting I think are good preparation for times that are going to challenge you like this.”
When the Celtics do return to games, they'll likely be played without fans, which NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discussed on a conference call with players on Friday. Stevens said it'll be another challenge for his players and the competition could get "feisty" without a crowd.
"I guess playing without fans would be much more like a typical practice environment, and I think that the one thing about these guys is they don't compete any less hard in practice,” Stevens said. “In fact, sometimes in those quiet gyms where you can hear everything somebody else is saying, it gets even more feisty. And so, I think that it would be great basketball if we're able to do that.”