While most teams used the day after back-to-back games or one of two straight off days as a break from the practice floor, invariably players would turn those days into a beehive of activity at the Berto Center. Beyond just coming in for treatment, they'd get shots up. They'd watch film. They'd look for ways to improve.
There may not have been an organized practice or media commitments on those days. But that's about the only thing different.
Why is this important now? When you try to cram 66 games into four months, practice time will be a casualty. One educated estimate has the number of practices for the entire season in the low 20s.
Thus, serious teams, those with continuity and commitment, could thrive.
"We have guys who won't shortcut anything," Luol Deng said. "That will be an advantage for us. Every game is going to matter. We've got guys who really pay attention. Whether we're practicing or just watching film, guys come in and get their work in.
"We're not happy with what happened last year. We won 62 games but we feel we can go further and do better. We all believe that and we're committed to do what we have to do."
Mental and physical breaks are needed in any sport. And the coaching staff will make sure players get them. But in a max-out season like what's coming, how free time is spent could go a long way.
"We'll maximize our time in our shootarounds and our film sessions and meetings," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "As the season goes along and there's an opportunity to get some good quality practices in, we'll take advantage of that.
"Each day, you're striving for improvement. You're trying to build the right habits so you're playing your best at the end. That's why your practices won't be as long. But you still have to get the work done."
The focus, for now, is to put in the right amount of preparation for Sunday's season opener against the Lakers in Los Angeles. But there's a back-to-back immediately against the Warriors. Then, two days off — one won't be on the practice floor — and another back-to-back against the Kings and Clippers.
Such is the frenetic pace of what's coming.
"The games are going to come fast and everybody will be in the same boat," Thibodeau said. "(Off days) mean we'll be off from being on the court in terms of practice. But usually when the guys come in on their own, they watch film and get some shots up. We'll continue to do that."
The goal is the same.
"Whether it's 82 or 66, we're going to play hard and try to win," Deng said.