Health and rest were priorities for the 76ers entering the postseason. The first one appears to have been attained since coach Doc Rivers said that everybody participated in Tuesday’s practice, the first to prepare for the postseason.
The team practiced again on Wednesday, a rarity in this condensed season to have consecutive workouts.
The players, despite a frenzied second half schedule that included 36 games in 67 days, should enter the postseason well rested, at least by NBA standards.
The starters were all given the final game off, Sunday’s 128-117 home win over the Orlando Magic. The last time the first stringers played was in Friday’s 122-97 win over the Magic that clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
That means the starters will have eight full days off before Sunday’s first-round game at the Wells Fargo Center against the winner of Thursday’s play-in game between No. 9 Indiana and No. 8 Washington.
While it may be over the top to suggest that Rivers is running a boot camp in preparation for the playoffs, the practices, from all accounts have had more of a purpose.
Rivers wasn’t made available after Wednesday’s practice, but Danny Green, owner of championship rings with San Antonio, Toronto and last year with the Los Angeles Lakers, indicated that the last two days have seen some intense moments in practice.
“Today we got after it a little bit, yesterday we got after it a little bit, guys going at each other, competing,” Green said after Wednesday’s workout. “Doc liked some of it, Doc didn’t like some of it, but I think overall we were getting some good stuff out of it, hopefully communicating better.”
NBA teams have to pick their spots when to raise the intensity in practice and apparently this is the time for the Sixers, who have to tread that fine line between beating each other up but also attempting to simulate game conditions.
“I think we are in a good spot, we had a couple of days of rest that guys needed [for their] bodies, focus” said Green, who shot 40.5% from three-point range this season. “I think we probably needed to lock in and focus. Today was a good day to go at each other.”
And apparently, they really went after each other.
“Last couple of days guys have been at each other when we play, we had a chance to go up and down, which we haven’t been able to do in a while,” Green said. “So I think it’s good for the chemistry, even though it may seem like we need to take a step back and not compete with each other so much, we’re all on the same team, but I think it is needed.”
Matisse Thybulle would agree, and few need the amped-up practices more than the Sixers second-year guard. Thybulle, a candidate for all-defensive team honors, missed the last four games of the regular season with left hand soreness.
The practices have been just what Thybulle says he needed to get back into things.
“It’s been intense, it’s been good, it’s really good for me just because it was hard to miss those games leading into the playoffs,” Thybulle said. “I really didn’t want to not have had that many games under my belt before we went out there, but just with the intensity of practice and making it literally like a game as you can imagine, it makes me feel a lot more prepared than I was because of missing so many games, so yeah, the intensity of practice has been really helpful.”
The Sixers will back off and not have practice on Thursday. By the next time they meet on Friday they will know their first-round opponent and likely have one final spirited workout before their postseason begin.
Summer league to return
Last season the NBA finished its season in the summer and there was no summer league, but it will be returning in August.
The NBA announced the league will run Aug. 8-17 in Las Vegas.