at New York Knicks (1-0) at Boston Celtics (1-1) Preseason Game #3 – Home Game #1 Saturday, October 13, 2012, 7:30pm ET TV: Comcast Sportsnet, MSG, NBA-LP (DTV 751) Radio: WEEI (93.7FM) XL Center, Hartford, CT
Even though the Celtics haveplayed two games in the pre-season, European teams play a different style and so this is their first test against NBA competition. The Celtics Notes list Sully and JT as starters but they could be going by who started the last game. As of yesterday, Doc was still saying he wasn't sure who he would start so this could change. Brandon Bass was running with the starters in practice so it's a good possibility that he will be in the starting lineup for this game.
The Knicks are now one of the oldest teams in the league but they still have plenty of firepower and they have a strong core. They are going to be tough competition for the Celtics in the division. Amare Stoudamire worked with Hakeem Olajuwan this summer and I'm sure he's anxious to show off his new post moves but he suffered a bone bruise to his knee in practice and is listed as questionable for this game. The Knicks have said they will be cautious with Stoudemire, who has a long history of knee problems.
As with most preseason games, the starters on both teams aren't expected to play heavy minutes. Both coaches will be experimenting with lineups and taking a closer look at players on the bubble. For the Celtics, Doc is still trying to find a back up at the point. It will be interesting to see whether Dionte Christmas or Jamar Smith steps up to show they can handle that position.
Celtics fans had high hopes for Gerald Green when he was drafted 18th in the 2005 draft. But he was drafted right out of high school and he wasn't really ready for prime time. After several years in the D-League and in Russia, Green is back. And, this time he's more mature and ready. He signed a 10 day contract with the Nets last season and impressed them enough to sign him for the rest of the year. In the offseason, he signed a 3 year contract with the Pacers for 3.5 million a year. It would appear from the video above that he can still jump out of the gym. I think that finally his work ethic and attitude have caught up to his athleticism.
Doc continues to mix and match his lineups. The Celtics are deep enough that they have 8 or 9 starting caliber players and Doc is going to have to determine which players work the best together as the starters and which players work best together off the bench.
Marc D'Amico mentions that Doc may try to run a lineup with Pierce and Green at the 2 and 3. That's the opposite of small ball. Doc is planning to use this lineup to try to create mismatches against some teams. Although he says it wouldn't work very well against the Heat, but we could see that quite often throughout the season.
We also could see a 3 guard lineup at times with Rondo, Avery and Jet. Or maybe Rondo Avery and Courtney. Or maybe Rondo Courtney and Avery. And then again there's Avery, Courtney and Jet. Every one of those lineups would be a fast break nightmare for most teams. Plus they would be a strong defensive team, even though a bit small.
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NBA-TV had their episode of Real Training Camp live from the Celtics training facility in Waltham today. For those who missed it, it will be on again at 2:30 pm ET tomorrow. It was great to watch them interact and watch the scrimmages going on. Here's a few random thoughts I had while watching.
The first thing I noticed was that even though they had microphones on Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger and Jason Terry, very often the loudest voice being heard was Kevin Garnett. He could be heard barking out instructions, corrections and encouragement throughout the practice. He also was often shown illustrating some move for the young guys and guiding them through it.
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You have to love Scal. Kobe Bryant has had the nickname of Black Mamba for some time now. Not sure how exactly he got the nickname. I read that he gave it to himself but that could be wrong. Scal has somehow gotten the nickname of White Mamba. In this video, Scal explains the difference between a White Mamba and a Black Mamba. And, while I'm at it talking about Scal, I'm really glad he's back with the Celtics. I loved his color commentary on the two games in Europe. He's a natural behind the mike and I'm looking forward to hearing him on CSNNE this season. It will make winning Banner 18 even more special with Scal along to call it.
We first heard that it might be January before we got to see Avery Bradley back on the court. Recent reports have Bradley ahead of schedule in his recovery and we could see him on the court as soon as mid-December. After yesterday's practice, Scott Souza tweeted this report:
#Celtics guard Avery Bradley has now gone through full shooting routine with Kevin Eastman. Know we haven't seen this yet in camp. Big step.
— Scott Souza (@scott_souza) October 11, 2012
During training camp practices, Bradley often works his way into a huddle. Sometimes a coach will be ready to put the guard on the floor before remembering that Bradley is unable to participate as he recovers from offseason surgery on both shoulders.
While Bradley has been involved with the team, and even in the huddles, he's been taking it slow and doing everything he's supposed to, which may be why he's ahead of schedule for his return.
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Last week, Rajon Rondo made this statement, "This is our best shot...If this team buys into the system the sky's the limit with the championship." Doc has proved that his system works with the right players playing the right roles on the team when they won the championship in 2008. Since that time, though for one reason or another, they haven't had the players they needed to fill roles. Some of it was injuries, some of it was a weak bench, some of it was not having the right players to fill those roles in the system.
Jason Terry has assumed the role of leader on the bench, a role that was vacant last season as the bench played with little direction. Kevin Garnett has accepted the role of big man coach and mentor for the young bigs. He is also willing to fill the role of center, if that's what Doc needs from him. Doc has mentioned having transitional starting lineups and so players have to be willing to accept and embrace their role, whether in the starting lineup or off the bench. Some will be scorers. Some will be facilitators. Some will be defenders and enforcers.
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The National Heart Association had a little post on their "You're the Cure" website about Jeff Green and his desire to help others by sharing his experience.
Jeff Green, took time to share his personal heart connection with a group of kids who have their own heart stories. The kids also filmed a PSA with Jeff about the importance of learning CPR in School, which will help further our policy priority of CPR as a Graduation Requirement.
One parent shared that her son, Ryan has a hard time accepting the fact that his heart is "different" and he never talks about his condition or his surgeries to anyone. After spending the day with Jeff Greene and being at the Celtics' facility Ryan finally had a good reason to talk about his heart. Ryan's mom said it was day that changed his life. Ryan said, "Mom-it was a dream come true!"
Jeff underwent surgery for an aortic aneurysm after a routine physical detected the problem last December. He joins Ronny Turiaf, Fred Hoiberg, Etan Thomas, and teammate Chris Wilcox in returning to the league after undergoing heart surgery. It's great that he is reaching out to kids who are struggling with heart conditions so that his experiences can help them.
He's definitely one of the good guys.
Courtney Lee has been on 3 different teams already in his 4 seasons in the league. He has played for Orlando, New Jersey and Houston, all good organizations. But, Lee says there's something different about the Celtics.
“The vibe here is totally different,” said Lee, who will start at least until Avery Bradley returns in December. “It’s one of the best 1-through-15 teams I’ve been on where everybody is being cool with each other and on the same page. The coaching staff is committed to winning a championship.
“That’s not a knock on any other team,” he said. “I’m sure the goal was the same everywhere else. But here you can feel it and see it, instead of just hearing about it. There’s the constant reminders, the constant videos in the locker room playing last year’s playoffs. The conversations you have with everyone from management all the way down to the ball boys and the equipment guys. Everyone is committed to winning a championship.
“Everybody does a good job of coming together. We have a lot of guys on this team with similar personalities and interests, all with one common goal: a championship. That makes it easy to give in and forget about being an individual and becoming a team.”
The Celtics are focused on a championship. They are rubbing salt in their wounds by watching the loss in last year's Eastern Conference Finals over and over. Even the new guys are feeling that loss and taking it personally. And soon, they will have to stand by and watch the Heat raise their banner and receive their rings. That will be a scenario that will stick with them through the season. That should have been us. That will be us next season.
Update from today's practice from Molly McGrath along with interviews with KG, Rondo and Doc.
KG likens today's practice to a playoff practice. Doc ran them a lot, trying to get their conditioning where it needs to be. He once again talks about possibly shaking up the starting lineup by moving a starter to the bench to shore up that unit. He's also still concerned about the back up point guard position.
Doc is like a kid in a candy store with all the options he has for every position and he's going to experiment with different lineups and allow the competition to decide who gets the playing time. It's going to be a very exciting season as all this plays out.
Now, I just read a post on WEEI by Paul Flannery that said that when the curtains went up on practice today, Jared Sullinger was playing with the starters and that Doc is having way more fun than I ever imagined. Jared started the game in Milan and played very well, but many felt that the starting power forward would still be Brandon Bass. And then I read this little tidbit:
Coach Doc Rivers said he hasn't made any decisions about starters yet, but he suggested that he could use several different lineups depending on the matchup. In addition to Sullinger or Brandon Bass starting at the 4, Rivers said he could use Darko Milicic at center and slide Kevin Garnett back to his familiar turf.
"We can slide Kevin over to the four to start games. The first half of the year I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, so Kevin doesn't have a wrestling match the entire season with the bigs," Rivers said. "There’s a lot of thoughts. We may go to a transitional starting lineup, have three different starting lineups. We’ve put a lot of thought into it, we’ll just figure it out."
So, we may see different starting lineups depending on the matchup. So, Darko may start vs Philly where he would be opposite Andrew Bynum so that they could bang each other around instead of KG having to do it. That's very interesting. And, no, Lex, I didn't miss the part about Darko possibly starting. Doc also said that he's not as worried about the starting lineup as he is the second unit and by putting a starter in with the reserves, it could strengthen that unit. Am I hearing the prelude to starting Green in place of Pierce? I've already had a few musings on that move and possibly this is a prelude to Doc making that move eventually sometime in the year. One thing I do know is that Doc is going to have fun moving all the pieces of this deep roster around. As for Sully, Doc, Rondo and KG all were singing his praises. We may see him starting sooner rather than later. Here is what Rondo had to say about the rookie:
"He’s probably the smartest rookie we’ve had since I’ve been here," Rondo said. "He’s very intelligent. High basketball IQ and he’s very unselfish. He doesn’t need a play called for him. He’s been getting his points off the dirty work."
The Celtics have a deep team this season and because of that, there are going to be some battles for playing time and for starting and back up positions. The Celtics are a close bunch and have developed great chemistry already, but that won't stop them from competing hard to win playing time. Larry Bird used to credit Greg Kite for making them a championship team because Kite pushed them as hard as he could in practice. The same could be said for players on this team who will be pushing each other as hard as they can to make each other better and to earn more playing time.
We know that Rondo will be the starting point guard, but there has to be a back up. There are 2 players who are competing for that honor as well as for the final spot on the roster. Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith will be working hard and pushing each other for the chance to back up Rondo and to earn that last spot. And in the meantime, they are also pushing the other guards on the team as well.
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First of all, it's good to see Zach Lowe writing again. After leaving SI, he's now writing for Grantland. In his first article, he details the contenders and everyone else. He lists just 4 teams as "The Real Contenders" including the Heat, Thunder, Lakers and Spurs. In the next tier, he lists just one team with "A Puncher's Chance", the Boston Celtics. Here is his take on the Celtics for 2102-13:
Boston knows it went about as far as it could with the league's best defense and an offense that ranked 24th in points per possession. Score at that rate, and it's very hard to beat just one top team four times in seven tries — even when that top team is missing Bosh and has yet to figure out the best way to optimize its talents. Boston overcame its own injury issues, but those setbacks didn't have the same impact of Derrick Rose's ACL tear and Bosh missing the first four games of the conference finals.
Jason Terry is a borderline elite offensive player, the rare guard who combines star-level long-range shooting and off-the-bounce creativity. Avery Bradley will be back soon, and Boston's starting lineup with Bradley in Ray Allen's place scored at a league-best level. Courtney Lee is a solid two-way player who is money from the corners, and Jeff Green, bloated contract and all, might help in the right matchups.
This is a team built to face Miami — to play varied small lineups, have Green share LeBron-guarding duty with Paul Pierce, and hope its offense can score enough to give it a chance to win late. But it's an old team, one vulnerable to injuries, and one that must prove there is anything better than a league-average offense here. If that's all there is, they'll still need some luck to upset Miami.
This season is all about 18. The Celtics are focused on winning the franchise's 18th title this season and everything in Celtic Nation is focused on 18. It would seem that the omens are good so far. The odds for the Celtics to win the title this season - 18/1, of course.
2013 NBA Title Odds
Miami Heat: 11/5
Los Angeles Lakers: 5/2
Oklahoma City Thunder: 9/2
Chicago Bulls: 14/1 Boston Celtics: 18/1
San Antonio Spurs: 18/1
Los Angeles Clippers: 25/1
Brooklyn Nets: 30/1
Dallas Mavericks: 33/1
Indiana Pacers: 35/1
I wrote yesterday about the point guard position being the one weak spot on the roster. Today I read something that may have some bearing on filling that spot in a very unexpected manner. The Herald this morning has a quote from Doc that had me smiling.
The more Doc Rivers sees Darko Milicic, the more he appreciates the talents of the Serbian center.
Milicic had nine rebounds and four blocked shots in 19 minutes Sunday against Olimpia Milano. He also had three assists, and often kept the second unit in a flow.
“He’s been phenomenal, with his defense and passing,” said Rivers. “We were really using him as a point guard on the floor with that second unit, because we didn’t have a real point guard on the floor. He’s been wonderful.”
Of course we have the point guard who runs the offense. And thanks to former Celtics, Don Nelson, we have the point forward concept and Paul Pierce has filled that admirably at times. Now, it seems we have the point center. It's a novel concept, but Doc may make it as common as Nellie's point forward has become. But then, I can't talk about point centers without mentioning Big Bill Walton. He was one of the best passing centers ever.
But back to Darko. In just 2 games, he has proved that he is way better than the "bust" label he has worn since being made the #2 pick back in 2003. He has done everything that the Celtics have asked of him and then some. They expected some defense and rebounding, but this passing thing I think even took Doc by surprise. At the half on Sunday, Darko was the leading assist guy. Who would have thought that?
So far, the Darko experiment has been a smashing success. He is picking up the defense quickly but then with his size, if he just stood there he'd make people have to change a lot of shots. The guy is huge!! But he is playing defense very well and getting to the right spots on the court. And he is rebounding, you know, that concept that was pretty much foreign to the Celtics last season. And biggest surprise of all, he is making some impressive passes and creating a whole new concept for the Celtics. Darko Milicic: Point Center. Who would have thought?
I know this isn't basketball, but it's so good, I had to share it. Keyon Dooling has a newsletter where he sends interesting sports related stories and videos and this was one of the items in the latest newsletter. In the video, a dodgeball player avoids getting hit and then slams an opposing player with a matrix-like spin move. It's really amazing. (H/T to Sporsality Newsletter and Youtube user eebtek)
Rajon Rondo on winning a title: "This is our best shot...If this team buys into the system the sky's the limit with the championship."
— Molly McGrath (@MollyAMcGrath) October 7, 2012
We know that Jason Terry has said several times that he is pretty confident in this team and that he feels that they will win it all this year. Rondo has said that this is the best roster and most talented team since he's been here. And, I'm assuming that means the championship team included.
He feels that if every one buys into the system, the sky's the limit. So far, getting the team to buy in hasn't been a problem. They all flew out to LA to work out together and bond before camp started. The young guys have been in town all summer working together. Some of the new guys, along with Rondo, have been working out in Waltham since the beginning of September. They are bonding and developing chemistry.
The players have all expressed their faith and admiration for Doc as a coach. Obviously, they are all hard workers. Even Kevin Garnett has been impressed with their work ethic. I don't see any problems with them buying into the system. I would add another condition to Rondo's. If this team can stay healthy, the sky's the limit. And, after all they went through last year, I'd say they are due to have some luck in that area this season.
The Celtics are deep this year. As Lex mentioned the other day, they are built to withstand injuries because of their depth at every position. Because of the versatility of the players they have, every position is four deep. That is, every position except one.
At Power Forward, the Celtics could use any one of 4 players in a normal rotation: Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green. At Small Forward there are Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Kris Joseph, and Courtney Lee. Center we have Kevin Garnett, Darko Milicic, Jason Collins, and Fab Melo. At Shooting Guard they are again four deep with Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Avery Bradley, and Deonte Christmas.
With the retirement of Keyon Dooling, the Celtics are down to one pure point guard. They don't have any clear cut choice to back him up. And, should Rondo be out for any time, the dilemma becomes even more concerning.
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Chris Wilcox tweaked his back in practice and sat out both games, listed as day to day. A Sherrod Blakely tweeted that he will have some tests on the back when he gets back to Boston. Wilcox had major heart surgery 6 months ago, so it's amazing that he's back on the court already. The Celtics stated earlier that this injury isn't associated with the heart surgery he had last season. Hopefully it's minor and he'll be back on the court soon.
The Heat played their first preseason game today and lost 92-79. It's not a really big loss because Wade, Chalmers and Haslem sat out. But I thought it would be good to do our part as fans and start hating on the Heat early. It is interesting that they are already seeing the problem with Ray needing screens to get open beyond the arc. They are also already questioning LeBron's shooting. Several are also feeling that one of their big free agent acquisitions, Rashard Lewis, is finished. When you compare these comments to the optimistic comments from Celtics fans, they are a pretty sad group. Good times.
Battier still has the hot hand Can't wait for Allen and Battier to be on the floor together
Rebounding kind of a concern, but well get it going. Ray Allen looks good in a Heat uni.
Damn still looks weird that ray Allen is in a heat uni
Since there aren't comments from the opposing team's fans for today's game I thought I'd do something a little different and gather Celtics fans comments. There is a very good feeling in Celtic Nation after the first two games and I thought it would be fun to let the kool-aid flow a bit. Enjoy today's comments from the Celtics' side and get excited.
The interview with sullinger before the game made me smile. he's just asking questions and will do whatever is needed.
So uh. Rondo looks super confident with his shot. Amazing sign
Our offense will really open up if Rondo can force defenses to respect his shot. It looks real good so far.
The Celtics closed out their European camp with a big win over EA7 Emporio Armani Milano. The play of starters and bench alike had Celtics fans feeling very good about the upcoming season. The turnovers that plagued their first game were gone and the defense was tighter and players seem to be getting more used to playing with each other. Sully, Darko and Green all impressed once again but from top to bottom, the play was solid.
Boston Celtics' Jared Sullinger, left, and EA7 Emporio Armani's Ioannis
Bourousis fight for the ball during an exhibition basketball game in
Milan, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Doc shook up the starting lineup, inserting Sully at the 4 and Jet at the 2 along with Pierce, KG and Rondo. It seems that Rondo to Jet is going to replace Rondo to Ray just fine. And the best part about it is that they don't have to set 3 screens to get him open. He gets himself open and can bring the ball up and shoot the three off the break or he can catch and shoot and will be very effective with both. JET showed that he can run the point efficiently along with running with Rondo and finished with 11 points on 4-8 shooting (3-5 beyond the arc), 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Rondo had a perfect first quarter on the offensive end. For the second game in a row, he shot the ball with confidence. He didn't hesitate when the defense sagged off of him and the shots went in. Rondo was 7-7 from the field and 2-2 from the line with 2 assists in the first quarter. After sitting out the second quarter, he came back in the 3rd and concentrated on distributing the ball. Finished with 17 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
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at Boston Celtics at EA7 Emporio Armani Milano
Sunday, October 7, 2012
12:00 PM ET
TV: NBA-TV, CSNNE
Pregame on CSNNE at 11:30
Mediolanum Forum (Milan, Italy)
Celtics complete their 2012 World Tour with a stop in Milan to face EA7
Emporio Armani Milano. EA7s the most titled basketball team in Italy,
having won 25 Italian Championships, 3 European Championships, 4
Italian National Cups, and 1 Intercontinental Cup. Their last
championship was in 1996. Several NBA players have been a part of this
franchise including Bill Bradley, Antoine Carr, Mike D'Antoni, Joe
Barry Carroll, Bob McAdoo, Antonio Davis, Darryl Dawkins,Rolando Blackman, Thurl Bailey, Beno Udrih, and others.
arriving at their hotels around 5am on Saturday after their game in
Istanbul, Doc gave the players their first day off since camp started.
After a day to rest their achy muscles and to catch up on some rest, the
players should be ready to take on another challenge. Hopefully this
time with a different result.
I expect Doc to once again make
player and team evaluation his main objective in this game. He will
more than likely start the first unit and then let the reserves close it
out as he did in the first game on the trip. Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Darko Milicic
impressed in the first game. It will be interesting to see if they
once again step up and also to see which other players step up their
game. With one game under their belts, hopefully this game won't be
quite as sloppy with fewer turnovers and missed defensive assignments.
The Celtics turned the ball over 25 times in their first game, which
could be chalked up to first game jitters and rust and learning to play
with new teammates. The rebounding was encouraging in their first game
as they won the battle of the boards 37-32 and they corralled 14
offensive rebounds. Hopefully that will become the norm this season.
The Celtics should also be concentrating on closing holes in their
defense as Fenerbache were able to get to the basket the entire game for
easy baskets. The Celtics must defend the pick and roll better along
with closing out on the 3 point shooters better.
this game, the Celtics will return to the States for the remainder of
their preseason schedule. Hopefully, as in 2007-08 when they last began
their season in Europe, the Celtics will return with a renewed sense of
team and a championship level of chemistry. Note the early tip off
time for this game at 12:00 pm ET. Read more » Leave a comment Link backs Tweet
Rondo is BIG at the NBA Cares event in Milan. That would be awesome to have that just hanging around the house. I used to have a life sized Larry Bird in my classroom when I taught. It was quite a conversation piece. This is bigger than life and that would be even more fun.
Milan fans showed a lot of love...... Too much at that. A lady grabbed my butt and said "romper" 😳😳😳😳 but I appreciate the love tho lol
— Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) October 6, 2012
It appears that Jared Sullinger felt loved in Milan. Maybe a bit too much.
Rondo discovered that there are Rondo Cookies in Turkey. I wonder if he packed a suitcase full of them to bring home with him. I know he's going to have a few new Italian suits.
And finally, here is Jason Terry mic'd up for practice. I love having him on the team. It's going to make a big difference having a leader on the bench who can and will hit the big shots in crunch time. Love how he asks Rob Kurz what his name is. If you want to see Jet and PP shooting 3 pointers at practice, check out the video on Lex Nihil Novi.