MILAN — It’s only been a week and Celtics coach Doc Rivers already is sensing a weakness in his seemingly loaded roster. Rivers said because of the retirement of Keyon Dooling, the Celtics are lacking a true reserve point guard.
Jason Terry has been anointed the new reserve point guard, but Rivers said he is uncomfortable with Terry constantly handling the ball. So what to do? The Celtics don’t have a legitimate backup to Rajon Rondo, yet Rivers doesn’t feel the need to pluck one from the free agent market.
“I like his skill set, but honestly I’m concerned about our backup point; I thought so far, the way we’ve played, Jason Terry is handling the ball a lot,” Rivers said before the Celtics’ 105-75 win over Emporio Armani Milano Sunday. “I don’t want that. I want him to be a scorer and I think him handling the ball takes away his best ability. And as a staff, we have to figure out something better for him. Courtney Lee the same way, I don’t want him overhandling it either, and right now with Avery [Bradley] out, we’re kinda stuck.
“We have to figure that one out as a staff and put them in better spots, and I think that is on us more than them. But when Avery comes back, when those four guys come together, that’s a pretty good crew. I would say the best guard crew I’ve had since I’ve been in Boston.”
The question is whether a player such as nonroster invitee Jamar Smith or Dionte Christmas can emerge at that position. Smith was the first point guard off the bench Sunday as Rivers seeks to find the answer on his own roster. Smith finished with three turnovers and no assists in 12 minutes.
“We’re hoping Jamar can do it,” Rivers said. “Keyon, that’s a big loss. It’s funny, even as a coach, I don’t think you realize his loss until you see it on the floor in a game. And you realize, ‘Wow, that’s a bigger loss than I thought.’ But I am hoping we can figure that out without going out and getting another body. Jamar has a chance, [as does] the combination of Courtney and Jason Terry. That’s a big concern. After one game, if I had a concern, that would be it.”
Jeff Green continues his triumphant return, tying Rondo for the team lead with 17 points in 24:35. Green scored 16 points Friday against Fenerbahce Ulker after missing all of last season because of surgery to repair an aortic root.
Once again, Rivers used Green as the go-to guy in the second quarter, continuously asking him to capitalize on his mismatch at small forward, and he not only reached the free throw line six times, he drained all three of his 3-point attempts.
“I’m still tired, but Doc left me out there and I had to push through,” Green said. “I think [the second unit] came in and did our job. We got the lead and continued to build on it. When the starters came into the game in the second half, they led the way for us and finished the game out.”
Former middleweight champion, boxing Hall of Famer, and former Brockton resident Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who is a movie star in Italy, was in the house. Also on hand was EA7 owner Georgio Armani, who attends all of his team’s games, sitting in his courtside seat . . . Commissioner David Stern attended, and said he does not see an NBA franchise in Europe in the near future . . . Former Kansas standout Keith Langford did not dress for EA7 . . . Micah Downs returned from a sore left shoulder to play in his first preseason game and pulled down two rebounds in 4:27 . . . Rivers said he wants to get Jason Collins some game action, and he played 12 minutes, but the story again was Darko Milicic, who came off the bench for 1 point, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks in the second quarter. He appears to have the edge in the backup center competition . . . Chris Wilcox (back spasms) did not play and may be examined when the team returns to Boston . . . Rivers picked up his first preseason technical, telling David Guthrie to “pay attention!” after the official called an illegal screen on Milicic. Rivers thought Milicic was pushed . . . EA7 coach Sergio Scariolo inserted 18-year-old Dario Piva for the last 25 seconds of the game. Piva was a call-up from the Emporio Armani junior team.