MIAMI -- Ray Allen tried to greet his former teammates late in the first quarter Tuesday when he walked to the Celtics bench before entering the game. But one Celtic wasn't in a gracious mood as Kevin Garnett ignored Allen's offer of a handshake, the video immediately becoming viral on YouTube.
Garnett was asked why he passed on greeting Allen: "You know what man, I was just trying to stay as neutral as I could but obviously I'm an intense person. Other than that it was blank, I just saw the Heat uniforms and obviously he's on the other side and I just tried to play the game, man."
The moment many basketball fans were waiting for came with about two minutes left in the first quarter of the Celtics' season-opening game in Miami Tuesday.
Ray Allen, the former Celtic now playing for the Heat, checked into the game and approached the Celtics' bench to greet some of his former teammates. After hugging coach Doc Rivers and shaking hands with several others on the bench, he reached out and tapped forward Kevin Garnett on the shoulder.
Garnett's reaction? Let's just say frosty. Garnett stared straight ahead and did not acknowledge Allen.
A war of words has been waged since Allen's departure. Though the Celtics offered him a deal to stay in Boston, Allen accepted less money to play in Miami because he was dissatisfied with his role and had a rocky relationship with guard Rajon Rondo.
His reception by his former team was highly anticipated and the subject of much debate in the days prior to the opener.
Allen hit a 3-pointer, his signature shot, in his first attempt after checking into the game. During a trip to the free throw line, Miami fans chanted his name.
In a television interview after the game, Allen suggested Garnett did not see him.
"That's just KG. I love those guys. I can't say enough good things about them," Allen said.
Final, Heat 115-107 Dwyane Wade scores 29 points, LeBron James adds 26 in 29 minutes before of leg cramps and Ray Allen drops in 19 for the Heat, who led nearly the entire way. The Celtics got 23 points from Paul Pierce, 20 from Rajon Rondo, who fouled Wade hard late in the game and had to be removed.
Fourth quarter, 1:15, Heat 115-107 The Celtics cut the deficit to 4 with a 14-3 run but Chris Bosh has responded with 4 points of his own and the Celtics wasted a scoring opportunity on the last possession. Celtics ball.
Fourth quarter, 4:03, Heat 109-101 The Celtics are trying to make one last run and thank Leandro Barbosa for this rally. He has 14 points in 12 minutes while Kevin Garnett just completed a conventional three-point play to make it interesting. Dwyane Wade has 27 points, LeBron James 26 and Ray Allen 17 for the Heat.
Fourth quarter, 9:01, Heat 100-85 The good news for the Celtics is the bench is producing. Leandro Barbosa has all 9 points in the quarter and the bench has scored 20 points. The bad news is the Miami bench has 30, including 17 from Ray Allen and 10 from Rashard Lewis.
End of third quarter, Heat 93-76 Heat end the quarter on a 12-2 run and the Celtics look done, giving up their third straight 31-point quarter. Miami is shooting 56.7 percent and 7 of 13 from the 3-point line. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have a combined 22 points. Miami looks like the defending champions and the Celtics look like they have a lot of work to do.
Third quarter, 1:49, Heat 87-76 The Heat continue to flirt with putting this game away and Chris Bosh has scored 6 of Miami's past 8 points as LeBron James is being traded for an injury in the locker room. Bosh has 12 points, James has 22. Paul Pierce is the lone offensive threat tonight for the Celtics with 23 points in 31 minutes.
Third quarter, 4:40, Heat 79-70 The Celtics have no answer for LeBron James, who continues to torch them from the perimeter. He has 22 points, 7 in the quarter as Miami is threatening to pull away. The Celtics are not getting much from Courtney Lee, who has 7 points but four fouls and has not been an offensive weapon. Jeff Green has 1 point in 14 minutes.
Third quarter, 9:06, Heat 67-58 LeBron James begins the second half with an open 3-pointer and Dwayne Wade follows with a layup off a cut to the basket, so the Celtics continue to struggle on defense. Paul Pierce has 16 points for Boston.
Halftime, Heat 62-54: Celtics had a chance to slice the deficit to 2, but then miss a layup, commit a loose-ball foul for two Ray Allen free throws and then allow LeBron James to drive uncontested for a two-handed hammer dunk. So they trail by 8 after a putrid defensive first half. The Heat is shooting 51.2 percent and Allen has 13 points. James has 16 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists.
Second quarter, 2:18, Heat 57-50: The Celtics can't stop Miami's transition game and Ray Allen is becoming a big factor. He has 11 points, including a banked-in 3-pointer to beat the 24-second clock. Meanwhile, the Celtics still have no one to contain LeBron James who has 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Kevin Garnett has been a non factor with 2 points in 12 minutes.
Second quarter, 6:33, Heat 43-42: This game is very reminiscent of the past Celtics-Heat games where the Celtics are fighting to stay close. They are on an 11-3 run, thanks to 8 straight points from Jason Terry. The Heat have cooled off from the field after shooting 56 percent in the first one-plus quarters. They are down to 48.
Second quarter, 9:20, Heat 40-31: The Celtics are trying to beat Miami without playing defense and as you know that won't work. The Heat just canned their fourth 3-pointer of the game and are shooting 56 percent. The Celtics are shooting 54 percent but have nine turnovers and 2 points from Kevin Garnett, who refused to shake Ray Allen's hand when offered in the first quarter.
End of first quarter, Heat 31-25: Well, you knew this would happen. Ray Allen hit his first 3-pointer just seconds after entering the game and then added two free throws as the Heat shoot 52.4 percent and drain three 3-pointers for a 6-point lead. Boston committed five turnovers and shot 50 percent but got no points from Kevin Garnett.
First quarter, 2:45, Heat 22-21: Miami is on an 8-4 run as the Celtics appear tired and turnover prone. LeBron James has 6 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Ray Allen is about to check into the game. So far, no interaction between he, Pierce, Garnett or Doc Rivers.
First quarter, 5:39, Celtics 17-14: The Celtics are 7-for-12 shooting with three 3-pointers, including the first as a Celtic from Courtney Lee from the side pocket for the lead. A couple of points here, Lee's defense against Dwyane Wade has been effective and Shane Battier has picked right up where he left off last season with two 3-pointers.
First quarter, 7:40, Celtics 10-8: It's a 3-point battle so far as Paul Pierce has two for Boston and Shane Battier has 2 for the Heat. LeBron James has a midrange jumper while Brandon Bass has the other 2 points for the Celtics. Miami is doubling Rajon Rondo to get the ball out of his hands.
MIAMI -- Happy Opening Night folks!! We report live here from Miami where there is a sense of anticipation for the kickoff to the season and the Miami Heat ring ceremony. The Celtics will not be on the court to watch the Heat receive their rings because the Heat designated 20 extra minutes before the game for the ceremony.
The Celtics will remain in the locker room. All players expect Avery Bradley are healthy but the inactives will be Bradley and rookie center Fab Melo. There were no handshakes yet from Ray Allen to his former teammates. Allen came on the court hours before tipoff, in his customary ritual, talk with a couple of Celtics team officials but no players.
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
PG Mario Chalmers
SG Dwyane Wade
SF Shane Battier
PF LeBron James
C Chris Bosh
- Brandon Bass will start at power forward. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Bass plays well against the Heat and is more comfortable defending their pick-and-roll sets.
- Bradley had the fourth-year option picked up on his contract and he will be eligible for a long-term extension next summer. Bradley is expected to return to the lineup in December.
- Darko Milicic is not wearing any brace on his right hand, an encouraging sign that he's near completely healthy.
- Ray Allen told the Globe that he couldn't have gone wrong either way signing with the Celtics or Heat, but he did not that the Celtics could have eliminated any controversy of free agency by signing him to an extension during last season.
Why eight? Well, to be honest, we're not really sure of the number's significance, though we're pretty confident it's not some sort of hackneyed tribute to Antoine Walker.
After all matters of the 2012-13 Celtics were considered, eight just happened to end up being the number of questions we asked Boston.com Celtics writer Gary Dzen and columnist Chad Finn regarding this fascinating team, which tips off its season tonight against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and the rival Miami Heat. Here is their back-and-forth on what's ahead for the Green as they pursue Banner 18.
1. WHO WILL BE THE MOST IMPROVED CELTIC?
Dzen: Is choosing Jeff Green too obvious? Probably, but if we're adhering to the literal version of the question, Green will improve more than any other Celtic, and not just in comparison to last season, when he didn't play. After coming to the Celtics two seasons ago in a trade for Kendrick Perkins, Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games in Boston. That was way down from his 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds with Oklahoma City that year.
Expect Green's numbers to be right back near those Thunder numbers this season. For starters, he's healthy. That's obviously not a minor detail for Green after going through heart surgery in January. But he also knows the system now, having spent last season hanging around the team and taking it all in. He's motivated, and he's needed more. Paul
Pierce averaged 34 minutes per game last season without a viable backup. Expect that number to go down and Green's minutes to go up near 30 minutes per game. Green truly is a feel-good story, and there's no harm in getting on board.
Finn: If he were healthy and hadn't kept popping his shoulder in and out of its socket like Martin Riggs in "Lethal Weapon 2'' during the Heat series, I'd be giddy about watching Avery Bradley continue to build on his breakout sophomore season in which he did such things as ...
... posterize Kevin Durant and ...
... swat D-Wade and ...
... pull of the ol' you-can-pass-it-honest-I'm-just-tying-my-shoelace-over-here trick. I'm going to miss him while he's out, and I do wonder whether the accumulated guard depth is a clue that he may be out longer than they've acknowledged.
Anyway, most improved ... hmmm, I'm doubling down on your choice, Jeff Green. I don't think he's quite the force he was during the preseason, and the James Worthy stuff is insane even if it's partially tongue-in-cheek.
But as much as I value statistical analysis, I think there is a grayer area there in basketball than in baseball, and I almost get the sense that because he was habitually inefficient with the Thunder that some people are rooting for that to be the case in Boston just to vindicate the numbers. Consider this from ESPN's John Hollinger:
I can't stress this enough: Green is 26 and played four full seasons in the league, and after all that time there's no evidence he's actually any good and considerable evidence that he's a health risk. Yet he's being paid like a second-tier star. This was, without a doubt, the worst contract of the summer.
Without a doubt, huh? I'll take that bet. Green's a damn good player, a good shooter, a good slasher, and a good defender, and he has a point guard who has stopped throwing him hard-to-catch passes and will help him succeed. To put it another way: He's a hell of a lot more valuable going forward than Kendrick Perkins.
2. WHAT'S THE TEAM'S BIGGEST QUESTION MARK?
Dzen: Frontcourt depth continues to be this team's biggest weakness. That's not to say Danny Ainge didn't address it. He used his two first-round picks on what he thought were the two best big men available in this year's NBA Draft in Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger. He re-signed Chris Wilcox and added Darko Milicic and Jason Collins. The Celtics are much deeper in the middle than they were last season.
That's all good, but the fact remains that just like last year, the Celtics are a Kevin Garnett injury away from being virtually irrelevant. Garnett is the plan in the frontcourt. There's no equivalent player on the Celtics, and that's fine. Had Garnett gone elsewhere, he would have been the best free agent big man on the
market for some other team. It's difficult to find a superstar big guy.
Brandon Bass is a fine power forward, and Sullinger looks like he'll contribute right away. But they're both power forwards, not center. Without Garnett in a preseason game against Philadelphia, using Sullinger at the five did not work (Evan Turner got to the rim
whenever he wanted). The Celtics might not need to go big often, but when they do they'll need their full complement of players to be at
Finn: You know, part of their appeal, I think they actually have a big question, at least one that doesn't have a logical, attainable answer. Sure, KG is irreplaceable, and should the knee injury from a couple of years ago recur, of course everything changes. No one wants to see Chris Wilcox and Darko Milicic splitting 46 minutes at center. (I'm accounting for two minutes of garbage time for Fab Melo there, though he'll probably be spending the majority of the winter in scenic Portland, Maine.)
But the Garnett injury thing isn't so much a question as it is a worst-case scenario. Instead, I'm looking at a couple of smaller questions that I think will be answered to their liking.
Can Garnett and Paul Pierce, who have a combined 71 years on this earth and roughly 97,000 minutes played in the NBA, continue to play at an elite level?
Can Doc Rivers, who likes to have a set rotation, utilize the unusual bench depth to greatest effect? It's going to be fascinating to see how he rations out the minutes between Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa and Avery Bradley once he returns.
Perhaps most important, can Rajon Rondo live up to his vow to be more of a leader, which includes keeping his temper in check and bringing it pretty much every night? He's permitted the occasional night off in Sacramento in January, since Dennis Johnson did the same thing from time to time and we all love Dennis Johnson. But this is his team now -- his 44-point performance in Game 2 against the Heat last year was the clearest reminder of what he can and should be -- and he knows this is his time. It's up to him to seize it, and I believe he will.
3. WHICH ATLANTIC DIVISION TEAM IS THE BIGGEST THREAT?
Dzen: I think it's the Brooklyn Nets, but I say that with a lot of uncertainty. On paper the Nets have the most talent with Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Kris Humphries.
Philadelphia should be a contender with Andrew Bynum, but we haven't seen it yet. I'm not convinced Bynum, once he's healthy, will buy into Doug Collins's system of getting guys to dig in on defense and spread the glory around on the other end (in other words, playing games with scores in the 80s).
The Knicks are now the AARP Knicks. I'm also not sold on any Carmelo Anthony-led team playing its way into serious contention. Too many matadors on the defensive end with that group.
Actually the more I think of it, Philadelphia could be interesting. Bynum gives them a player the Celtics can't match up. Put Lavoy Allen or Spencer Hawes next to Bynum and you've created a matchup nightmare for Boston.
Finn: I like your point about Philly, though with Andre Iguodala in Denver they're not what they were defensively. I agree New Jersey is the biggest threat. It'll take some time for Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to mesh -- for a guy who got way too many isos in Atlanta, Johnson can also be too unselfish, and I know that makes no sense -- but there are quality pieces (Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Celtics nuisance Gerald Wallace) who should fit together well enough for 48 or so wins, conservatively.
The if-you-can-make-it-here Knicks hype is nauseating. Marcus Camby will help Tyson Chandler bolster the defense, but he's also so old I think he was at UMass with Dr. J. Jason Kidd is 39, Amar'e Stoudemire is already hurt, and Carmelo Anthony plays efficient basketball only when he's surrounded by players of equal or greater talent that he respects. That does not describe this crew. That describes what happens every four summers.
Put 'em down for the eighth seed and let's see how they fare against the Heat.
The Celtics never had an end-of-game lineup problem with Allen here. He was the two-guard, no questions asked.
Boston added Terry and Lee to fill the loss of Allen, and both are good to very good players, but neither of them equals a Ray Allen on his own. In other words, is the sum of the team's parts greater than the individual if only one guy can play at a time? I have a hard time saying yes.
Look, there's been plenty of hatred spewed Allen's way since he signed with the Miami Heat. I get it, he signed with the enemy. But that doesn't mean he wasn't valuable here or that the Celtics won't miss him. Allen's ankle injury might also have fooled fans into thinking he was rapidly deteriorating. Remember Allen had surgery on his bum ankles just before he was traded here in 2007 and he was much-improved afterward. He's older now, but with his level of fitness there's a very good chance he regains some of his former form.
Who makes the big shots for Rivers down the stretch? It's probably Terry, and it may even be Rajon Rondo, who has shown he's looking for his own jumpers much more in crunch time. Someone else will shoot, but they may not go in as often as Allen's did.
Finn: Not as much as he thinks he will.
Listen, I loved watching him play here. You can make the argument that he is the best all-around shooter in the history of the league, and he's one of those guys who makes it look effortless through extraordinary discipline and hard work. You have to respect that, just as you have to respect that he occasionally was an afterthought until he was called upon to bail them out with late 3s, or that he sacrificed the most of the Big Three -- he averaged 26.4 points per game in 2006-07 for Seattle the year before he came here.
But he's also at the point where his ego has exceeded his ability. He's still a brilliant shooter when everything is right, but he's a liability defensively and is a downright poor ballhandler. As accomplished as he is, he has to be blind not to realize that inserting Bradley into the starting five was the right thing to do, and he's downright delusional to believe he was as vital to the Celtics' success last year as Kevin Garnett.
I'm sure it eats at him that Rondo, a smarter player who shunned Allen's attempts to mentor him, went to Doc and suggested Bradley should start ... and then Rondo was proven right. He hasn't forgiven Doc for that slight, which of course was no slight at all when it came to what was best for the team.
He left because he felt disrespected, and that's understandable to some degree. He probably ended up in a better situation for himself going forward. But with Terry, Lee, and eventually Bradley, the Celtics are better at shooting guard than they were a year ago. That concept is probably unfathomable to Ray Allen, 10-time All-Star and all-time 3-point champ, but it's the truth.
Rondo should be a virtual lock so long as he stays healthy. He may be the best point guard in the league this season. Garnett and Pierce both have good chances to make it. Why I give the edge to Garnett is because he exploded in the playoffs last season. People will remember that. Pierce is always under the radar, and while I'm not expecting him to be any less effective, I think he'll play less with Green in the mix. There's also the issue of position. Pierce's appears to be more crowded with stars, while Garnett could have less competition if he's listed as a center. All three players could make it, but I'm guessing two.
Green is a long-shot to make the All-Star team, but it wouldn't be unheard of if he had a stellar season off the bench. He wouldn't deserve a spot over Pierce, but juxtaposed with his recovery from heart surgery, Green could win some of the popular vote. Did I mention he's a longshot?
Finn: Who cares? All-Star Games are such a Laker thing. All right, I'll say this much: Rondo who is poised to be one of the top five players in the East if not the entire league this year, had better start. He's way overdue to get his due.
6. WHAT WILL BE THE BIGGEST SURPRISE, GOOD AND BAD?
Dzen: First the good: Darko Milicic will be more than a punchline. When the Celtics signed Milicic, fans let the jokes fly. The former No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft has not lived up to his draft position, and he never will. But that doesn't mean he won't contribute. Milicic is currently the top backup to Kevin Garnett with Chris Wilcox still getting up to speed. Darko is a legitimate 7-footer with good touch and strong basketball instincts. He rebounds and blocks shots. As much as fans loved Greg Stiemsma, Milicic is the vastly superior player. His issues are known, and they've started to show in preseason. He can lose focus, sometimes in the middle of a play. But he'll be a factor.
Now here's the bad. The Celtics will lose to teams they shouldn't lose to this season. As we've seen since 2007, nothing comes easy with this group. The Celtics are the best team in the Atlantic Division, but that doesn't mean they won't struggle to beat the Nets, Sixers, and Knicks during the season. There will be losses in places like Golden State and Detroit. That doesn't mean, however, that there's a strong danger of losing to any of these teams during a seven-game playoff series.
Finn: The Celtics have such an accomplished core and familiar bench that surprises with this group are hard to come by. We know who they are and who they should be. Even Jared Sullinger is a very well-known commodity compared to most No. 21 overall picks. I'll say Courtney Lee, because his profile is relatively low among casual fans for a player of his skill-set, and his attributes (hitting the corner 3, playing tough D) jibe perfectly with what Doc will ask him to do. Negatively, I think we're all intrigued by Darko because there was something there the led Joe Dumars to take him over Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh, and it's hilarious that he's apparently developed a bond with KG over their favorite 12-letter words, but he is what he is at this point. And what he is at this point is Dwayne Schintzius without the party in the back, a good-passing big man with a low motor.
7. WHICH BENCH PLAYER WILL HELP MOST?
Dzen: Jared Sullinger is going to have a huge year. He gets the nod over Green because he helps in an area where the Celtics are sorely lacking: rebounding. We've already seen what Sullinger can do with those big paws of his. He has a nose for the ball, can carve out space, and the ball just sticks to his hands. In this one area he is already a superior player to likely starter Brandon Bass. On offense Sullinger is also skilled, possessing an array of floaters and runners and baby hooks that may not look pretty but are highly effective. He'll play right away, and he'll play a lot.
Jason Terry and Courtney Lee also get votes here, but their roles are different. The Celtics are really looking for both players to combine into one Ray Allen. In that way, they're not really an addition to the team but more of stabilizing force. Lee can make more of a difference with his defense than Allen ever could.
Finn: The Celtics actually have a couple of potential Sixth Man of the Year candidates, and when is the last time we could say that? James Posey in 2007-08, maybe? Kevin McHale in '84?
It's tempting to say with Jeff Green based on the minutes he'll get and his encouraging preseason, but I'll go with Terry, who actually won the award three years ago. (Barbosa is also a previous winner.) Terry will shoot 36-38 percent from 3, make those clutch late 3s Allen was often called upon to make (Terry is a better 3-point shooter percentage-wise in the postseason than he is in the regular season), make 80-something percent of his free throws, and mesh better with Rondo on the court -- and off, obviously -- than Allen did.
He's a perfect fit in style and temperament -- he's so effervescent in interviews that a cynic might think he's auditioning. I think he's just a good dude who's happy to be here. I can't believe there was a time when I thought Miles Simon would be the better pro.
I don't think Sullinger will be a bench player by season's end. Wouldn't be surprised if he's the regular starter over Brandon Bass by the All-Star break.
8. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE OLD GUYS?
Dzen: It's not a big secret that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are getting older. The morbidly curious game is guessing whether Pierce (35) or Garnett (36) will break down first. I'm not a fan of using the term "break down" because I don't think it's that simple. But the skills of both players won't be as sharp in two years as they were two or three years ago. Some loss of effectiveness is going to happen.
Before the second half of last season it was easy to say that Garnett would lose more of his effectiveness before Pierce did. Then Garnett went out and was arguably the MVP of the team during the playoffs, while Pierce struggled at times. Garnett was fairly healthy, while Pierce labored through a knee injury. It will be interesting to see what kind of season Pierce has without being hampered. Given his status as a professional scorer, I expect it to be a good one. The addition of Jeff Green is huge and allows Pierce to get more rest. Garnett will get his rest no matter what, because despite the drop off without him in the game, the Celtics need him for the playoffs.
Finn: It's funny, "old guys'' should probably include Terry, who is 35. But he's a new guy around here.
We're talking about our old guys, I think, the guys who have been through the six- and seven-game postseason battles here. Which means KG and Pierce, heretofore known as The Big Two Featuring Rajon Rondo. To answer the question honestly, I have to say I don't know if I can answer it other than to say they will play with astounding toughness and pride no matter what their physical state happens to be.
I did not see Garnett's renaissance as a defensive force coming last year, and on the opposite end of that, it was jarring to see Pierce, who has always had an old man's game (I mean that as a complement), struggle to get the familiar angles and openings in the Philadelphia series. Part of that -- a large part -- was his knee injury, but it was also a window into what he will look like when his skills begin to noticeably erode.
The hope is that with the with the additional depth, any natural regression because of age is countered by Doc's willingness and knack for finding them a little bit of extra time off every now and then. That'll be easier to do with Pierce than KG, but it will be done, because this team is still about June, not November.FULL ENTRY
MIAMI – Celtic coach Doc Rivers is downplaying pre-game activities for the season-opener against the Miami Heat Tuesday night.
“It’s not that big of a difference because they’re going to start early,” Rivers said of the presenting of championship rings to the Heat, “when we would be in lockerroom, anyway. The only difference is there will be 16 minutes on the clock instead of 20. Our guys don’t usually come out until about 17 minutes on clock, anyway. So, it’s not going to be that big a difference. The only difference is we’ll hear it in the lockerroom, you’ll hear all the speeches and the noise.”
The ceremony is set to start at 7:30, lasting about 15 minutes. Then, the countdown to tipoff will begin.
“We didn’t really look forward to it, we were hoping that Oklahoma was playing Miami on opening night, to watch ring night,” Rivers said before the team’s shootaround Tuesday. “I don’t know why they chose us. They deserve it, they won it last year, they had their day. We had our day, LeBron (James) had to sit and watch that. He’s probably been through several of them, he’s been through two. This time is payback night and he deserves it, he really does. He’s probably gone through more scrutiny than any player, maybe any athlete, that I can ever remember. In that light, I’m happy for him. I just wish he could have waited.”
Globe NBA reporter Gary Washburn joined Boston.com readers on Tuesday to talk about the Celtics and the NBA season.
Review the discussion in the chat window below.
MIAMI -- Doc Rivers knows better than probably any other coach about the dilemma of defending Ray Allen. After five years of coaching Allen with the Celtics, Rivers is preparing his team to face Allen as a member of the Miami Heat in the season opener Tuesday.
"I think Ray Allen is going to get shots, just like he got them with us, because he's playing with great players," Rivers said before practice Monday. "He'll just stand somewhere, all by himself, and either you help or you don't. If you don't, LeBron [James] gets a dunk or [Dwyane] Wade gets a layup. If you do, Ray gets a jump shot. No different than when he was with us -- [Rajon] Rondo drove, Paul [Pierce] got to the paint, they had to double-team Kevin [Garnett]. Ray benefited from that and he’ll do the same thing here, maybe even moreso here."
Rivers said he expects to be quizzed about Allen, who signed with the Heat as a free agent.
"Ray's pretty good, he deserves that," Rivers said of the attention. "He’s on the team that beat us, so that's natural. But I'm still tired of answering. I don't know what you want me to say -- he went to the other team.
"Adding Ray and Rashard [Lewis] makes them better, and winning a title makes them better, because now they know they have it in them. That's the biggest advantage they have."
MIAMI -- It's one day and counting before Ray Allen makes his Miami Heat debut against his former club, the Celtics. And there have been words thrown around from each side after his bitter departure.
Doc Rivers again downplayed the matchup, saying he plans to prepare for the Heat's Big Three before Allen.
"Once the game starts, I am going to look across the court and see LeBron [James] first, [Dwyane] Wade second, [Chris] Bosh third, then I'll probably get to Ray," Rivers said. "Other than that, it will be different. I've been in the league a long time. I've seen guys in a lot of different uniforms, teammates, guys I've coached, You've seen Al Jefferson in a different uniform and [Kendrick Perkins] in a different uniform. It's part of NBA life."
Allen said opening night, when the Heat receive their championship rings, will be emotional for several reasons.
"You always have so many different types of emotions just regularly when the season starts off, obviously for me there's so many different ones because I am excited for (the Heat) having spent time around them the last two or three months, getting to know them and their families,'' Allen said. ''I'm happy for them that they won but at the same time they beat me [and the Celtics] and put us out.
"I understand the emotions that Boston will feel, the whole ceremony, but at the same time I'm excited for these guys. Once it's over with, it's business as usual."
Neither Kevin Garnett nor Paul Pierce have talked to Allen since signing with the Heat and both said Monday they aren't sure whether they will speak Tuesday night.
"As long as I was there, it's nothing personal," Allen said. "With anybody that's not on the Celtics team, it's always frosty. You don't like the other opponent. I don't think [not talking to Pierce and Garnett] is anything different than what would have been normal. Typically going into a season when we were coming back and amongst each other, you get away from each other and spend a lot of time with your family. So the five years I was there, KG and I didn't text a whole lot throughout the summer. You obviously knew you were coming back so it wasn't a big deal. I don't look at this any different."
When asked why he left the Celtics, he said: "There were a bevy of things I had to outweigh. I don't think right now in this setting I want to discuss it."
Allen said he harbors no hard feelings towards his former teammates despite the lack of communication.
"I think you guys think I have some type of animosity or bad blood against them, I don't," he said. "I've said it time and time again, we've shared, in my opinion, the most special thing you could do in sports is going all the way to the top. So that's always going to be No. 1 closest to my heart so when I see Paul, I'm not going to be like angry at home or anybody. I'm happy. I'm excited. I look forward to it, seeing all these guys."
MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade understand the Celtics are gearing solely toward his Miami Heat as the NBA season begins Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Every Celtic from Doc Rivers to Jared Sullinger has said the team is focused on overtaking the defending world champions, and Wade is not surprised.
"I expected that, when I heard (that we are the Celtics’ target) from Doc, I know Doc very well, as well it should be; our focus is on Boston," Wade said. "But we do look at other teams. We’re not going to say we’re just looking at Boston. We understand this league is good. When you talk about focusing on the Eastern Conference, you focus on the champs in the Eastern Conference and that’s the Miami Heat. So that’s their message right there more so than them saying I’m not worried about no other team because you can’t beat us four times and lose to everybody else. You won’t make the playoffs.
"I understand what he was saying at that standpoint and we look forward to the challenge every year. Boston is always the team that’s going to make us point fingers (at each other) in the game sometimes. They mess with your mind a little bit. It’s a great challenge for us and by the time you get to the playoffs, we look forward it. You have to be aware and focused on everything that they’re doing because they can beat you any given night.”
Wade said last year the Celtics could gear themselves to contend for three more years with the Big Three, a statement that caused reporters to giggle because it appeared the final run was nearing the end. He ended up being correct. The Celtics re-signed Kevin Garnett for three more years and added Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Chris Wilcox.
“When you got great players, no matter how old they are, you’re a great player,” Wade said. “KG (Kevin Garnett) is playing phenomenal, like he’s found a fountain of youth. Why break it up? You do the San Antonio (plan), you just add players around the great players. San Antonio has been very successful and it seems like Tim Duncan has been in the league 38 years. Why change that? And Boston has kind of did the same thing. They felt they needed a facelift but they kept three of their core four to come back and still make another push at it. Their just as good. It’s a different dynamic than having Ray but they got other guys that brings something different to the team that will be challenging."
Coach Doc Rivers is attempting to shift the focus from former Celtic Ray Allen before the the team's season-opener in Miami Tuesday.
"Honestly, it’d be nice to win," Rivers said after practice Friday. "But it wouldn’t feel good because of last year, it would feel good because now we’re 1-0. Honestly, for me, it goes no further than that. We blew them out two or three times (during the 2011-12 regular season) and they beat us (inn the playoffs). None of that really matters when the playoffs start, it just makes you have a better chance of getting home court."
Asked about competing against Allen, who left the Celtics for Heat as a free agent, Rivers said:
"I don’t think it’s Ray, honestly. I think it’s more the Heat. Maybe several guys want to play against Ray and Ray may want to play against several guys but this isn’t a Ray versus Celtics game. If it becomes that we’re going to lose by a lot of points because as good as Ray is, I know of two guys for sure, probably three guys on that team, who are a lot better than Ray. And if we’re focusing in on Ray we’re going to lose by 40."
Rivers, asked if he attempted to contact Allen during the free agency period, replied:
"I tried. I’m not going to get into Ray Allen stuff. Ray was great when he was here. If Ray wants to talk we’re going to just let Ray keep talking, that’s probably better for all of us."
WALTHAM – The Celtics developed the concept of the basketball "sixth man" in the 1960s, so it was probably inevitable that the team would employ some of the game’s best in that role. Now, with former Sixth Men of the Year Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry on the bench, there might be a call for a "Seventh Man of the Year."
In any case, Terry has set the tone for the Celtic reserves since arriving as a free agent, and on Thursday, he reiterated the second unit’s goal.
“Adding Barbosa made a deep bench even deeper,” Terry said after practice. “Not only are we deep but we’re very explosive and we are going to look to outscore everyone’s bench this season, every time we step out on the floor.
“We have the deepest bench in basketball. The Clippers might have something to say about that, but it’s us in this locker room. Our mission every night is to go out and outwork and outscore every other bench.”
Last season, Brandon Bass led the Celtics in offensive rebounding, establishing himself as a full-time starter in the playoffs. The fact that Bass will be in a reserve role this year is a sign of the Celtics’ improvement.
“Barbosa’s a scorer, also,” Terry said. “So now you have two guys off the bench who are able to penetrate and not only create for themselves but create for other people. And that’s where we’re going to have our strength.
“When I came here, I knew this team was very deep and very versatile. At every position, guys can create off the dribble, and also spot up and shoot. So with that comes a very difficult task for Doc [Rivers] -- to pick lineups and match guys together.
"It will be difficult for opponents to match up. A lot of teams, you can get caught up, gear up and load up for them. But with us, you don’t know who’s going to beat you with all the different lineups we can play.”
The veteran guard who spent the last five seasons with the Celtics before signing with the Miami Heat this summer told the Miami Herald Sunday that he was delegated to the role of a decoy in Boston.
"In Boston, they were telling me they were going to bring me off the bench — 'We're going to play you less minutes' — and all I asked was, 'How are you going to use me because the last two years you've been using me as decoys,' " Allen said. “ "'You're running all these plays for me just to pass it to somewhere else and you're not putting me into any scoring opportunities and I'm just standing over in the corner the majority of games.' "
While he was offered more money to play in Boston, he opted to join the Heat because they defined a better role for him.
But what's more, Allen said the steely relationship between him and Rondo was further complicated by an exchange regarding a possible trade with the Phoenix Suns in 2009. At the time, Allen said, Rondo wasn't getting along with coach Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge.
Allen said: "So, I called him and I told him, 'hey they're supposedly trading us to Phoenix because you and Danny and Doc don't get along,' " Allen said. " 'So, whatever you can do.
"So, for some reason, I guess he thought that I was … that I had something against him, or there were some issues. And I had no issues with him. I won with him."
Leandro Barbosa "had a great practice" in his first official workout with the Celtics Wednesday, according to coach Doc Rivers. And Chris Wilcox (back) returned at near full speed for the session.
"It's the first day, so I didn't expect too much," said Wilcox, who has been out since early this month. "My back feels great, everything felt great. So, hopefully, keep it up. I'm coming from scratch right now, so everything I do is trying to improve, trying to get better. So, I'm just out here working and feeling out where I need to be and get back in the flow of things."
Final: 76ers 88-79: A rather laidback effort from the Celtics, who never led in the second half as the Philadelphia bench, led by new acquisitions Dorell Wright and Nick Young, went to work on the Celtics defense. They combined for 35 points. Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green each scored 12 points for the Celtics, who shot 42.4 percent and committed 21 turnovers.
Fourth quarter, 8:12, 73-66: The Celtics just can't seem to catch the 76ers as Nick Young has hit 6 of the 76ers past 8 points. Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green each has 12 points for Boston while Courtney Lee has 10 points. Dorell Wright leads all scorers with 16 points.
End of third quarter, 76ers 66-62: Philadelphia continues to hold the lead behind 28 combined points from Dorell Wright and Spencer Hawes. Rajon ROndo has a double-double for Boston (12 points, 10 assists) while Jeff Green has 8 points and eight rebounds. Paul Pierce is 3-for-12 shooting with 8 points.
Third quarter, 6:24, 76ers 57-53: The Celtics went on a 10-2 run to even the game at 53 but the 76ers have scored the last 4 points, including Spencer Hawes on an uncontested dunk that caused Doc Rivers to call a timeout. The Celtics' first teamers are getting extensive minutes so far, each start having played at least 20 minutes.
Halftime, 76ers 51-41: Dorell Wright has 14 points and the 76ers have 14 assists on 21 baskets as they made a 10-2 run to end the half. Rajon Rondo has 10 points and five assists while Courtney Lee has 7 and Jeff Green 6.
Second quarter, 4:11, 76ers 41-39: The Celtics are making a run with their first teamers as Courtney Lee just hit a 3-pointer from his comfortable corner position and Rajon Rondo cashed in on two baskets, including a layup after a Jeff Green block. Rondo leads all scorers with 10 points.
Second quarter, 8:22, 76ers 31-30: The Celtics are just trying to execute plays and use their bench extensively. Seven Celtics have scored, including Kevin Garnett, who has 6 points. The 76ers have attempted 11 3-pointers, the Celtics two.
End of first quarter, Celtics 22-21: All the starters got decent minutes in the first period and Rajon Rondo leads the Celtics with 6 points and four assists. Jason Richardson has 8 for the 76ers. Jeff Green was in the starting lineup and pulled down five rebounds.
Final: Celtics 109-98: A 27-6 run to begin the fourth quarter helped the Celtics cruise to their second consecutive preseason win. Jeff Green led Boston with 25 points and Jason Terry added 22. Rajon Rondo scored 13 points with 11 assists. Chris Copeland tallied 34 points for the Knicks and James White added 16.
Fourth quarter, 7:32, Celtics 96-87: Boston is on a 16-4 run to start the quarter and Jeff Green just completed a zip pass to Courtney Lee for a dunk that would have made Tom Brady proud. Green has 20 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots while Jason Terry has 18 points.
End of third quarter, Knicks 83-80: The Celtics regulars -- minus Pierce, Garnett and Bass -- are making runs at the Knicks but can't overcome what was a 20-point deficit in the first half. Jeff Green has 18 points and Jason Terry has 16 for Boston. Chris Copeland has 28 points for the Knicks and Steve Novak has 15, all on 3-pointers.
Third quarter, 5:41, Knicks 68-63: The Celtics are playing Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Jason Terry and Jared Sullinger against the Knicks reserves and are making a run. Jeff Green has 16 points to lead Boston. Chris Copeland has 26 for New York.
Halftime, Knicks 52-47: Celtics end the half on a 24-9 run to get back into the game thanks to Rajon Rondo and Jason Terry, who canned a 3-pointer in the final seconds. Chris Copeland has 23 points in 18 minutes for New York while Steve Novak has 9.
Second quarter, 2:31, Knicks 50-39: The Celtics are showing some life but have no answer for Chris Copeland, who has 21 points and Steve Novak, who has drained three 3-pointers.
Second quarter, 8:14, Knicks 38-21: Rookie Chris Copeland has 14 points for the Knicks while Steve Novak has canned two 3-pointers for New York. Jeff Green has 7 points for the Celtics, who are shooting 42.9 percent with nine turnovers.
End of first quarter, Knicks 28-15: A forgettable first quarter for the Celtics, who are just trying to stay competitive with four starters on the bench. The Knicks reserves are playing well, led by Chris Copeland, who has 7 points.
First quarter, 2:59, Knicks 19-11: The knicks are launching 3-pointers and playing up-tempo basketball while the Celtics appear to be coasting at this point. James White has 6 points for New York while Rajon Rondo has 2 for Boston.
First quarter, 6:09, Knicks 12-9: Both teams are just racing the ball up the court and taking jump shots. Jared Sullinger has 4 points and has an interesting matchup with 17-year veteran Kurt Thomas.
ALBANY -- This will be a night where reserves are fighting for jobs because there will be no Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass or Darko Milicic for the Celtics and no Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler for the Knicks.
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Courtney Lee
SF Jeff Green
PF Jared Sullinger
C Jason Collins
New York Knicks
PG Raymond Felton
SG Mychel Thompson
SF James White
PF Henry Sims
C Kurt Thomas
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will be held out of the Celtics' exhibition game against the New York Knicks Saturday night, according to coach Doc Rivers.
Garnett will play against Philadelphia in the Celtics' final preseason contest at the TD Garden Sunday, but the status of Pierce, who twisted an ankle in the Celtics' 115-85 win over Brooklyn Thursday, has not been determined.
Brandon Bass (knee) and Darko Milicic (wrist) also were set to miss Saturday's game but are scheduled to return against Philadelphia. Recently-signed guard Leandro Barbosa will join the team in Boston and could be available, pending physical examination results, Rivers said.
"We wanted Darko to play but we will give (the wrist) one more day," Rivers said before the team's morning shootaround. "If it was a regular-season game, Brandon would play. And we'll see tomorrow with Paul."
Final: Celtics 115-85: By far the Celtics best performance of the preseason after a couple of disappointing losses. Seven players score in double figures, including Kris Joseph with 11 points in 12 minutes, including the Celtics' final 7 points. Next game is Saturday against the New York Knicks in Albany, N.Y.
Fourth quarter, 2:45, Celtics 106-83: Celtics on their way to the first preseason victory over an NBA team with an impressive performance. Six players are in double figures, including Jason Terry with 15 points off the bench, all on 3-pointers. Kevin Garnett's night is over with 14 points in 22 minutes.
Fourth quarter, 8:00, Celtics 94-76: The Celtics gave themselves more cushion with consecutive 3-pointers from Courtney Lee and Jason Terry and are now 8-for-13 shooting from the 3-point line tonight. Paul Pierce and Lee each have 18.
End of third quarter, Celtics 84-70: Amazingly, the Celtics are ahead 14 points despite the Nets shooting 31 free throws to their 6. Four Celtics are in double figures, led by Paul Pierce with 18 points, including 4-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Joe Johnson has 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting and the Nets have 17 turnovers.
Third quarter, 4:01, Celtics 73-61: The Nets are on a 10-0 run after the Celtics had just been dominating the quarter. It's the most impressive game of the preseason for Boston, which is shooting 57.1 percent and have four players in double figures. By the way, Brooklyn has attempted 28 free throws to the Celtics' 6.
Third quarter, 8:49, Celtics 65-51: Paul Pierce returned for the third quarter after tweaking his left ankle in the second quarter but Brandon Bass will not return with a right knee bruise that the team says isn't serious. Jared Sullinger is playing well but has five fouls in 17 minutes.
Halftime, Celtics 59-44: A fine half of basketball for the Celtics, who shot 56.5 percent and got 12 points and six assists from Rajon Rondo and 11 points from Paul Pierce, who tweaked his left ankle landing on Gerald Wallace after canning a 3-pointer but is expected to return. The Nets committed 11 turnovers and made 14 baskets. The Celtics committed four turnovers and made 26 shots.
Second quarter, 6:42, Celtics 41-27: Celtics on an 8-0 run as their defense continues to be stifling, causing nine Brooklyn turnovers. Kevin Garnett has already played 10 minutes and will return to the court after the timeout. Rajon Rondo leads the Celtics with 10 points.
Second quarter, 8:21, Celtics 35-27: The Nets are beginning to warm up and have also been to the free throw line 12 times to the Celtics' 2. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo have 8 points each while Jason Terry has two 3-pointers off the bench,
End of first quarter, Celtics 27-15: Best quarter of the preseason against an NBA team for the Celtics, who held the Nets to 3-for-16 shooting (18.8 percent) and seven turnovers. Courtney Lee collected three of Boston's six steals in the first quarter while Paul Pierce scored 8 points and Lee added 5.
First quarter, 5:16, Celtics 18-7: Paul Pierce continues his torrid 3-point shooting with two already as the Celtics are playing the best stretch of the preseason. Pierce has 8 points while Gerald Wallace has 4 for Brooklyn. The Celtics have five steals.
First quarter, 10:37, Celtics 9-0: The starters are trying to make a statement with 9 straight points, including three baskets off steals. Paul Pierce has 5 points, including a two-handed jam off a fastbreak.
The Celtics play their first game in Brooklyn's sparkling new arena, the Barclays Center, and are hoping for more complete performance than Tuesday's 97-96 loss to the Nets. Doc Rivers will go with his normal starting five and the more Jared Sullinger plays with the starters, the more it appears he will be the Opening Night starter at power forward.
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Jared Sullinger
C Kevin Garnett
PG Deron Williams
SG Joe Johnson
SF Gerald Wallace
PF Kris Humphries
C Brook Lopez
- Leandro Barbosa is officially a Celtic but not likely to join club until maybe Sunday's home game against Philadelphia. Rivers said he has no idea whether Barbosa is in shape.h
- Rivers said he would like to see Kevin Garnett get more work in the post. That's the reason he got seven touches in the third quarter Tuesday against Brooklyn.
- Darko Milicic sat in the locker room with his right wrist taped and iced. He is not expected to play the next two games. He has been nursing a sore wrist the entire preseason.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Guard Leandro Barbosa did not join the Celtics for a morning shootaround at the Barclay’s Center and is not expected to be with team for Thursday night’s exhibition game against the Brooklyn Nets. Barbosa has agreed to a contract with the Celtics but the deal has not been finalized, according to a team source.
“We’re looking for guards or bigs, whatever we can find,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We’re trying to improve our team. If we had a big that was better for us we’d sign him, too. We have a 15-man roster and we’re going to try to fill it up.”
Guard Leandro Barbosa has reached a one-year deal with the Celtics, a league source confirms to the Globe. The 29-year-old Barbosa will figure into Boston's backcourt mix in a reserve role.
Barbosa averaged 11.1 points per game with Toronto and Indiana last season. Known as a scorer, he could find a role as Rajon Rondo's backup, sharing time with Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. With Avery Bradley out until at least December, the Celtics seem to have a need for Barbosa, though he's unlikely to play substantial minutes.
The Celtics have won the NBA's Atlantic Division in each season since 2007-08, a string of territorial dominance that's often overlooked given their larger accomplishments. If you're looking for a good trivia question, ask someone which team last won the Atlantic that wasn't the Celtics. In 2006-07, that team was the Toronto Raptors.
That's a fairly clear illustration that competition in the Atlantic, unlike the wife of Brooklyn Nets minority owner Jay Z, hasn't exactly been fierce.
No one is mentioning Toronto this season, but plenty of attention is being paid to the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Tuesday night's Celtics opponent, the Nets. Through various trades and free-agent signings, all three of those teams have taken steps to better contend in the division specifically and the Eastern Conference as a whole this season. For the first time since 2007, the Celtics could have a legitimate challenger in the Atlantic.
The division is a hot topic right now, of course, because division games make up the entirety of Boston's stateside exhibition schedule: Knicks last Saturday, Sixers Monday, Nets Tuesday and Thursday, Knicks again Saturday, and Sixers Sunday. We were deprived of a truly interesting matchup Tuesday night when Brooklyn trotted out a starting lineup of C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans, Josh Childress, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche.
Still, the Nets may pose the biggest threat to the Celtics. They added Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, kept Deron Williams and Kris Humphries, and still have Brook Lopez. That's a fearsome five no matter how you look at it.
"They've had a heck of a summer," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before Tuesday's game. "They've obviously had a lot of game-planning about the summer. They must have had two game plans, the Dwight Howard plan and the secondary plan, which is still a really good plan. They've done it. They've pulled it off. I think the new arena and all [the move to Brooklyn] helped recruit players. I think it helped keep a player. I think Deron Williams, if they stayed in Jersey, probably wouldn't be there."
The Nets certainly think they're contenders. At the team's media day, Johnson said, "I think we have a chance to win the whole thing this year. I’m not just saying it. I honestly believe it."
Said Blatche, a center: “Looking at our roster, the guys that we have, we have a great team. We have a team that’s winning a title.”
Blatche had 23 points and 9 rebounds Tuesday night in a Nets win, so maybe he's onto something.
You really, really shouldn't be worried about the Celtics' 1-4 record to start the preseason. Really. But the Celtics have also faced the Sixers and Knicks and have seen the potential of those two teams first hand. After a knock-down, drag-out playoff series last season, Philadelphia rolled over the Celtics Monday night. The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, but the Sixers were without newly-acquired big man Andrew Bynum. Does Bynum make the Sixers a contender? Considering how close Philadelphia was to beating the Celtics last season, the addition of Bynum, Jason Richardson, and Kwame Brown to a core of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, and Lavoy Allen is at the very least intriguing.
The Knicks made moves as well in the offseason, skewing older by adding Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace, and 35-year-old rookie point guard Pablo Prigioni. New arrival Raymond Felton said his team was one to be reckoned with after beating the Celtics in Hartford Saturday night.
“Just two rival teams trying to make statements," said Felton. "This ain’t a real game but we’re still letting y’all know, it’s going to be a dogfight. And on both sides, we understand that, we know that.”
Rivers was asked Tuesday if he viewed the Nets as contenders.
"We're looking at everybody that way," said Rivers. "Our division is hard this year, and that's fine. Obviously we prefer it to be the way it's been, that was just terrific. But it's a hard division. It's not just the Nets, it's not just the Knicks, Philadelphia. It's just going to be a tough division."
Brooklyn's Williams made the cover of a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, a cover that celebrates both the team's talent on the court and new-found marketing ability. The last Nets player to make the cover of SI was Kidd in 2003. That was before the Celtics were perennial division winners, when the Atlantic truly was a dogfight. It may be that way again, but until proven otherwise, in the race for the Atlantic, all roads run through Boston.
Final: Nets 97, Celtics 96: A Kris Joseph heave goes wide as the Celtics lose. On the play before the Celtics drew up a great lob for Micah Downs, but he missed the layup.
What did we learn? Paul Pierce (29 points) is really good. Jeff Green (14 points, 8 free throws) is the focal point of the second unit. Jared Sullinger (9 rebounds) has some serious mitts. We learned absolutely nothing about the Nets, who sat all of their good players.
Courtney Lee (13 points) was also as aggressive as we've seen him in the preseason so far. He's going to be fine.
4:40 4th quarter. Celtics 91-83: The Celtics are shooting a respectable 49 percent in this game. Rondo (2 for 7), Terry (1 for 4), and Green (3 for 8) are the outliers.
8:45 4th quarter, Celtics 85-78: Without Darko Milicic, the play of Jason Collins becomes an interesting storyline. In 11 minutes Collins is 2 for 2 with four points. He has yet to collect a rebound. He doesn't look to be earning serious rotational minutes to this point.
End 3d quarter, Celtics 83-74: Doc Rivers said before the game that he might go home early and watch the debate. Well, he's watching the game from the locker room in the second half. I didn't think he'd actually do it!
4:52 3d quarter, Celtics 71-60: Pierce hits another three before missing the mark on one. He's 6-for-8 on 3-pointers in the game and smiling all the way up the court.
7:04 3d quarter, Celtics 63-58: Pierce hits a 3-pointer and then Courtney Lee nails one of his own. The whole Celtics bench was on their feet before Lee released that 3-pointer. Really cool to see.
9:10 3d quarter, Nets 58-53: Powerful block at the rim by Garnett on Carleton Scott (what, you don't know who he is?) leading to a fast break on the other end, but Pierce can't convert. Once KG sits down you're unlikely to see him again.
Andray Blatche is keeping Brooklyn in the game with 15 points.
5:11 2d quarter, Celtics 43-35: Back-to-back 3-pointers from Paul Pierce give him 20 points for the game and gives the Celtics a little lead. Pierce will never not be underrated, but in case we needed a reminder, he's really, really good.
8:53 2d quarter, Nets 28-27: Pierce is leading the Celtics with 10 points, but Jeff Green is clearly trying to get involved in the offense now. The Celtics are clearly making him the focal point of the second unit.
End 1st quarter, Nets 25-21: The Celtics started their regular starters against Brooklyn's backups and got beat. That sure ain't good.
In other news, I just had a fan behind me say, "There's no way Fab Melo is here, because he'd definitely start over Jared Sullinger." In Maine maybe.
4:15 1st quarter, Nets 15-14: Jason Terry into the ballgame. The lineup is Rondo, Terry, Pierce, Green, and Bass. Kind of like it.
7:40 1st quarter, Celtics 9-2: Jared Sullinger is really, really beastly on the glass. He tipped an offensive rebound up in the air, cleared space with his behind, and snagged it with those big paws. Fun to watch. Paul Pierce has five points.
Pregame: If the Celtics and Nets play a preseason game at TD Garden while there's a presidential debate going on, does the game still make a sound? Against better judgment we're going to blog this one. Keep it here for updates.
Here's Brooklyn's actual starting lineup: C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans, Josh Childress, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche.
Welcome to TD Garden, where the Celtics will play a game on their home court for the first time this preseason. The new-look Nets are in town. They're from Brooklyn now. I've already called them the "New Jersey Nets" and the "Knicks" on Twitter, so we're not off to a good start. Let's hope the game is better than Monday night's.
Every Celtic but Darko Milicic is available for Doc Rivers. Milicic has a mild right wrist sprain (Darko's hand was heavily wrapped), but Rivers said he doesn't think the injury is serious.
Tonight's projected starting lineups:
The game itself is obviously secondary to the teams preparing for the start of the regular season, which is two weeks from tonight. The Celtics have 16 players on their roster, but they don't seem to have a true backup point guard after Keyon Dooling announced his retirement. Rivers said the Celtics aren't necessarily in the market for a backup to Rondo, and he said he is comfortable with Courtney Lee and Jason Terry as backup ball handlers.
"I think every team is always looking," said Rivers. "If nothing comes, does that bother us? No. It would be great to get another guy at any position. Obviously that one would help. But we can't also forget that Avery [Bradley] is coming back, too. We don't want to overdo the point guard thing.
Bradley was out shooting free throws before the game. That's a good sign, but Rivers said Bradley is still expected to be out until December or January.
"Every team doesn't have two great point guards," said Rivers. "Most teams don't."
-- Celtics forward/center Chris Wilcox spoke to reporters before the game and said he is still a ways away from returning to the court. Both his conditioning (following heart surgery) and a back injury have kept Wilcox off the court.
"I'm just not ready, I'm just not comfortable," said Wilcox. "I don't want to get out there too early and have to sit out again."
-- Sullinger worked on a lot of pick-and-pop plays before the game. He also did some pick-and-rolls, but he only rolled about 6-8 feet away from the basket, where he threw in some hook shots. Sullinger is very skilled at a lot of funky in-between runners and floaters, so expect him to use a lot of them.
-- On the waiving of Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas, Rivers said, "Two good kids, both played hard. It just really came down to numbers. Just not enough room."
The Celtics announced Tuesday that they have waived guards Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas.
Smith, a 6-foot-3-inch guard, appeared in four preseason games and averaged 2.3 points and 1 rebound. Christmas, a 6-foot-5-inch guard, appeared in four preseason games and averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds. The Celtics roster now stands at 16.
Final, 76ers 107-75: It was as ugly as it looks, with the Celtics basically relenting in the third quarter and trailing by as many as 34. Paul Pierce led Boston with 16 and Brandon Bass added 11. Five 76ers scored in double figures.
Fourth quarter, 6:40, 76ers 96-67: Preseason games are meaningless but the Celtics aren't even being competitive. They have scored 8 points in the past 12 minutes. Spencer Hawes leads all scorers with 17 points.
End of third quarter, 76ers 84-63: Celtics get outscored 18-4 in the last half of the quarter and now this is a rout. The Celtics were 7-for-19 shooting in the quarter and committed five turnovers. Paul Pierce has 16 points and his night is done. This game is down to the Celtics third teamers.
Third quarter, 1:03, 76ers 79-63: A 13-4 run has given the 76ers their biggest lead of the game and the Celtics look listless. Thaddeus Young has 11 points in the quarter including 7 of the 76ers last 11. The Celtics got off to a strong start but now may be relegated to playing reserves the rest of the night.
Third quarter, 4:56, 76ers 68-59: The Celtics have gotten back into the game with some scoring spurts but missed shots have ruined their chances at a real rally. Paul Pierce leads all scorers with 16 points. Brandon Bass has 9 points.
Halftime, 76ers 56-42: The Celtics fell apart in the final 7 minutes of the half, getting outscored 20-7 and allowing Spencer Hawes to score 13 points while backup point guard Maalik Wayns added 8. The Celtics committed 14 turnovers in the half, eight in the second quarter as they look ragged and uninterested.
Second quarter, 5:40, 76ers 40-35: Spencer Hawes already has 11 points and backup point guard Maalik Wayns has 8 off the bench as Philadelphia is maintaining the lead. Brandon Bass has 9 points for Boston.
Second quarter, 8:49, 76ers 32-28: Brandon Bass is off to a hot start with 8 points while Jeff Green has a nice dunk off the bench but the 76ers are scoring with relative ease in the paint. Spencer Hawes has 8 points and Lavoy Allen has 4 in the quarter.
End of first quarter, 76ers 23-21: The Celtics committed six turnovers and allowed Spencer Hawes and Jason Richardson to combine for 12 points but still trail by a bucket. Paul Pierceh as 5 points for the Celtics and he may have seen his last action of the night. Dionte Christmas gets a nice round of applause in his first game in Philadelphia. Christmas attended Temple.
First quarter, 2:34, 76ers 17-15: A 5-point spurt gave the Celtics a 4-point lead but the 76ers have scored 6 straight points, the final four on easy layups and Doc Rivers is not happy about the defense. Jared Sullinger has 4 points on 1-for-4 shooting.
First quarter, 4:41, 76ers 11-10: Celtics have started 3 of 10 shooting but Jared Sullinger continues to plug away in the paint despite facing the bigger Lavoy Allen. So far Doc Rivers has yet to go to the bench.
First quarter, 8:00, 76ers 9-6: The Celtics have allowed the 76ers to get what they want offensively in the early going. Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Darko Milicic have the points so far for the Celtics.
The Celtics will get a good look at their bench tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers because coach Doc Rivers will hold out Kevin Garnett and limit Paul Pierce in the first game of a back-to-back. Rivers wanted Garnett to play Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics' first game of the season at TD Garden.
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Jared Sullinger
C Darko Milicic
PG Jrue Holiday
SG Jason Richardson
SF Evan Turner
PF Thaddeus Young
C Lavoy Allen
- Chris Wilcox continues to be sidelined indefinitely with a lower back injury, although he is working out lightly before games.
- The Sixers will be without Andrew Bynum (bone bruise, right knee) and Kwame Brown (left calf strain). Lavoy Allen, who gave the Celtics so much trouble during the playoff series last season will start.
- Rivers continued to lobby for Doug Collins as the 2016 US Olympics team coach, although Rivers appears to be a candidate himself. Regardless, Rivers said, it will be difficult for an NBA coach to lead the team because he'll be leading all NBA players who may carry grudges if they don't get desired minutes.
Garnett, 36, has played a total of 46 minutes in the first three preseason games and Rivers could give him a break before Tuesday's game with Brooklyn Nets.
"We play (a) back-to-back and I want him playing (tomorrow)," Rivers said.
RIvers said he was unsure what to take out of Saturday's 98-95 overtime loss to the New York Knicks but he wasn't thrilled to play overtime.
"I keep getting asked that question, I don't know what I am supposed to take," he said. "I kinda just watch the game and we're improving in some areas. Our weak side defense wasn't very good so we have to improve in that area. That's all I'm looking for right now."
Also, Rivers said he has no update on Chris Wilcox, who made the trip to Philadelphia but is out indefinitely with back issues. Asked if Wilcox's absence hurt the club, Rivers said:"That doesn't do a lot. We would love to have him. We would love to have an extra body but the other bigs are playing great."
Overtime, Knicks: Chris Copeland, who entered the contest late in the fourth quarter, scored 21 points over the final 19:23 of regulation time and overtime as the New York Knicks took a 98-95 win over the Celtics in an exhibition game at the XL Center in Hartford Saturday night.
End of regulation time, Celtics 86, Knicks 86: Jared Sullinger hit the second of two foul shots with 16 seconds remaining, then the Knicks failed to convert on the final regulation-time possession.
Fourth quarter, 3:30, Knicks, 84-78: The Knicks' bench, led by Pablo Prigioni, outplayed the Celtics for much of the final quarter.
Fourth quarter, 6:32, Celtics 78-72 : Both teams went deep into their benches for the final quarter.
End of third quarter, Celtics 66-62 : The Celtics led by as many as 12 points, but an attempt to go "small" backfired over the final six minutes of the quarter. Only Jared Sullinger scored for the Celtics over the final 5:47, the Knicks closing with a 12-3 run.
Third quarter, 3:39: Celtics 63-56 The Celtics went to a "small" lineup midway through the quarter, the Knicks capitalizing with pick and rolls to Tyson Chandler and a Carmelo Anthony 3-point play in transition.
Third quarter, 6:28: Celtics 60-49 Celtic captain Paul Pierce blocked a Carmelo Anthony drive, Kevin Garnett dunking in transition with 6:30 left in the quarter. Anthony was assessed a technical foul just before a timeout was called.
Halftime, Celtics 50-42 Celtic Jeff Green scored 10 points, dunking twice, in the second quarter.
Second quarter, :56: Celtics 48-41 Rajon Rondo returned to the Celtic lineup late in the second quarter, hitting a pullup jumper in transition for a 48-39 advantage.
Second quarter, 3:11:Celtics 45-39 Carmelo Anthony returned to the Knick lineup and hit a 3-pointer and a jumper in a 29-second span.
Second quarter, 8:10:Celtics 37-32 Jeff Green displayed his versatility, getting a one-hand slam, followed by a shot-clock buzzer 3-pointer in a 43-second span.
Second quarter, 11:38:Celtics 30-27 Kevin Garnett returned to the lineup at the start of the quarter.
End of first quarter, Celtics 28-27 The Celtics went with Brandon Bass, along with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Jason Terry in the starting lineup, Coach Doc Rivers began substituting early, Darko Milicic replacing Garnett with 7:41 remaining in the opening quarter.
WALTHAM – Kevin Garnett believes the Celtics have done some turning back the clock with the roster this season.
“We have a lot of options, we’ve been playing with them in practice,” Garnett said after practice Thursday. “We did a lot of things overseas with different matchups.
“Playing with the lineups we’ve been playing with reminds me of the ’07-08 year. We had four smalls and one big, we had shooters, we had different dynamics to score the ball.”
Celtic guard Avery Bradley resumed training Thursday and said he is "ahead of schedule" in rehabilitating from two shoulder operations.
"I didn’t think I would be feeling this good right now," Bradley said after practice. "Right now, I feel good. I started conditioning today, lifting with the strength coach. I’m definitely ready but I’ve got to take my time right now."
Asked about a mid-December return, Bradley replied: "That’s what they have right now. Like I said, take it day by day and see how I feel. But I’m ahead of schedule now, so you never know."
There's been a lot of talk this week about Celtics starting lineups. Doc Rivers started rookie Jared Sullinger at the power forward position Sunday in an exhibition vs. Armani Milano in Italy. Rivers said Wednesday he'd like to try Sullinger out some more in place of usual starter Brandon Bass.
"I'm going to try [Sullinger] a couple of games, and then I'll throw Brandon in, and then I'll put Darko [Milicic] in a couple of times," Rivers said. "You can read into it whatever you want. But there’s been no decision made on anything."
Nor should there be. It's the preseason. No better time to figure out what you have and how to employ it. Sullinger's emergence is only a good thing for the Celtics. He could be the steal of the draft. But it's doubtful that Doc's tinkering now really reflects the coach tinkering with his starting lineups for the regular season. The veteran Bass will more than likely get the nod. A training camp "competition" both encourages Sullinger and motivates Bass. It's a win-win.
The more interesting debate is who closes games for the Celtics. In other words, with the game on the line, what is the team's "best" lineup. Rivers hinted at this Wednesday when talking about the starters.
"There’s a lot of thoughts," said Rivers. "We may go to a transitional starting lineup, having three different lineups. So we put a lot of thought into it. We’ll figure it out."
The debate over Boston's best lineup to close games will likely leave out both Sullinger and Bass. Barring a matchup in which the Celtics need to go big, Boston's best closing lineup is probably Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, and Kevin Garnett. If the Celtics need to go bigger, that's where Bass and Sullinger come in. The competition now, then, is really a competition that looks at which players mesh better with the Celtics' top unit when it counts. It's not how you start but how you finish.
For the first time in a long time, Rivers has some decisions to make on his closing lineup. The big men are in question, but to me the more intriguing competition is at the guard spot. Rondo is a lock, and Terry's experience and shooting ability make him the likely two-guard on the floor to end games. But it's not hard to see a scenario in which Avery Bradley or Courtney Lee earn that role instead. While Terry is the instant offense Rivers may need to close, Bradley can be instant defense. Lee may be the best 3-point shooter of the group. There's certainly room to mix and match and sub offense for defense, but with Ray Allen the Celtics had a no-brainer backcourt to end games. Figuring out what the new closing lineup will be might be the most interesting storyline of the entire season.
What do you think? What's Doc's best lineup? Do you want to see Sullinger or Bass play more?
WALTHAM -- There was obviously more to Rivers starting Jared Sullinger on Sunday against Emporio Armani Milano and the rookie has made quite an impression in training camp. Rivers said he is open to anything that will boost the versatility of the bench, and the addition of a pick-and-roll shooter like Brandon Bass in place of Sullinger may be a strong consideration.
“I’m going to try (Sullinger) a couple of games, and then I’ll throw Brandon in and then I’ll put Darko (Milicic) in a couple of times,” Rivers said following the team's workout Wednesday. “You can read into it whatever you want. But there’s been no decision made on anything.”
Rivers again reiterated that Sullinger has caught the organization by surprise with his maturity and ability to learn the offense. Sullinger dropped in the draft because of rumors about potential back surgery because he has not had any issues during camp.
“He doesn’t think like a rookie, he thinks like a veteran,” Rivers said. “He plays a great pace. He’s one of our best rebounders. He can pass the ball and so he does a lot of things that helps our team. And so we want to keep those guys around.”
When asked if he would consider starting Sullinger, Rivers did not deny his considering the possibility: “I said that when we drafted him but I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t really want to get into who’s starting who’s not yet. We’ll see. I’m not worried about our starting lineup. I’m far more worried about our second lineup, and that’s the lineup that we’re going to keep moving guys around.”
Celtics, 105-75 The Celtics pull away for an easy victory behind 17 points from Rajon Rondo and five other scorers in double figures, including Jeff Green with 17.
Fourth quarter, 3:32, Celtics 96-61 The Celtics are cruising with the reserves in the game to finish it out. Rajon Rondo has 17 points as well as Jeff Green. Brandon Bass has 11 points and eight rebounds.
Fourth quarter, 8:54, Celtics 87-59 The Celtics' reserves are back in the game and a great sign is the long-range shooting of Jeff Green, who has canned three 3-pointers so far. Brandon Bass is also getting warmed up in the paint with 11 points and seven rebounds. Rajon Rondo leads all scorers with 17 points.
End of third quarter, Celtics 81-59 The Celtics have held EA7 to 11-for-46 shooting and 28 points since its 31-point first quarter. The Celtics have played with more passion and execution tonight in front of Marvin Hagler and a horde of Italian Celtic fans. Rajon Rondo has 17 points, Paul Pierce 14, Jeff Green 12 and Jason Terry 11 for Boston.
Third quarter, 2:10, Celtics: 77-55 The starters have joined the fun as the Celtics are pulling away and look to go home with a victory. Jason Terry has just drained consecutive 3-pointers while Jared Sullingers is putting work in the paint with 9 points and 7 rebounds. Jeff Green has hit two 3-pointers.
Third quarter, 6:40, Celtics 64-48 The Celtics are playing with some intensity tonight and Rajon Rondo is controlling the show for the starters. He has 17 points.
Halftime, Celtics 55-42 A "that's more like it" session for the Celtics as they stymied EA7 Milano defensively, holding the Italian club to 4-for-19 shooting in the second quarter and 11 points. Doc RIvers played the bench all of the second period and Jeff Green produced 9 points while Darko Milicic has 1 point, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocked shots. Ioannis Bourousis has 10 for EA7 Milano.
Second quarter, 4:40, Celtics:52-35: The Celtics are playing their best defense of the short preseason, holding EA7 Milano to 4 points on 2-for-19 shooting in the quarter as Darko Milicic is controlling the paint with his defense. Jeff Green has 9 points in the period.
Second quarter, 8:34, Celtics 34-33: The second unit is in the game and while they have held EA7 Milano to one basket, they can't find a way to score. Doc Rivers just picked up a technical foul for telling official David Guthrie to "Pay Attention!" after calling Darko Milicic with an offensive foul. Rivers claimed Darko was pushed into the illegal screen.
End of first quarter, Celtics 34-31: EA7 Milano trimmed a 10-point deficit to 3, thanks to former Oregon Duck and San Antonio Spur Malik Hairston, who has 7 points while Antonio Fotsis has 6. Rajon Rondo was brilliant in the period with 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting with two assists and a 3-pointer. Paul Pierce added 9 points in 7:33.
First quarter, 4:27, Celtics 24-17: Rajon Rondo is putting on a show so far with 12 points, including an acrobatic layup that wowed the crowd here that seems to be rooting for both teams. Paul Pierce has 7 points, including a contested 3-pointer.
First quarter, 5:55, Celtics 17-15: The Celtics are scoring at will but have to learn how to defend the 3-pointer has EA7 Milano has three already to keep close. Rajon Rondo is popping his open elbow jumper and already has 8 points.
First quarter, 7:43, Celtics 11-10: The Celtics have more energy but EA7 Milano has stayed close with two 3-pointers. Rajon Rondo already has 5 points and Paul Pierce (or Piersa as the PA announcer is saying) has 4
MILAN -- The Celtics are a few minutes from tipping off with EA7 Milano. This venue is 25 years old and pretty much looks it in comparison to the Ulker Sports Arena in Istanbul, but the crowd is rabid and includes former Brockton resident "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, the former middleweight great who is now an accomplished actor here.
There has been a lot of talk about the Celtics losing their opening game against Fenerbahce Ulker. Coach Doc Rivers said winning tonight will not be a major emphasis but just growing and getting better. Expect Jason Collins to get playing time as Rivers said he wants him to get more acclimated to the system.
So take a few months from your NFL Sunday to following the blog and we'll have all the details from Milan.
MILAN, Italy -- Doc Rivers opened up Saturday afternoon about how he plans to approach members of his team in this critical season. He talked with the Italian media for about 20 minutes and said he plans to take time reshaping mentalities and approaches.
On Darko Milicic: "He just needs a chance; he just needs a team that wants him to do his job without asking him to be the No. 2 pick in the draft. We’re just asking him to be part of a group and part of a team. We give him roles on the team. I think he likes the roles that we’ve given him and he didn’t feel any extra pressure. So far so good. We just have to keep him in that frame of mind that he’s in now.
Milicic has obviously been bogged down by the pressure and expectations of being selected so high in a draft class that has become one of the best in recent memory.
“You can see that he gets frustrated easy,” Rivers said. “So we’re trying to eliminate those episodes. Our thing right now with Darko is to play forward. From being around for a short time, as a coach I can probably feel he’s played his career backwards. He lives in the past a lot and we’re trying to get him to live in the future. I told him (Friday), the only time I’ll take you out is if you make a mistake and make another mistake because you’re thinking about the last mistake. I won’t take you out for making a mistake. So hopefully that works.”
Rivers also touched on Rajon Rondo take more of a commanding role with the team.
"Basketball-wise we want him to make his jump shots a little bit more, we want him to make his free throws," Rivers said. "But leadership is the wrong word, it’s more being the team general on the floor. That’s to me where I want him to really improve. I’m really pushing him this year to think like me on the floor. The better he does that, I can sit on the sideline and maybe have a cup of coffee or something during the game. I just think it’s really important for him because of our offense. He doesn’t need to look to the sideline for every set, he can feel it; he knows it, having him draw up plays more. I think it’s a good progression for him."
And finally on whether the Celtics should target the Heat and the Lakers in making their title run: "Just Miami," Rivers said, "The Lakers have won nothing. They just have a lot of players. A lot of good players."
Final: Fenerbahce Ulker 97, Celtics 91: The Celtics really didn't deserve to win this game. They committed 25 turnovers and never led in the second half. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger each led the Celtics with 16 points.
Fourth quarter, 1:30, FBU 94-89: The reserves are all in but the Celtics have the ball and can actually make this interesting with another basket. Jeff Green has looked impressive with 14 points and four rebounds.
Fourth quarter, 5:10, FBU 91-84: The Celtics' reserves are trying to make one final run as they really don't want to lose to a team from Europe. FBU is shooting 48 percent from the field and 7 of 17 from the 3-point line. Romain Sato has 21 points and point guard Bo McCalebb has 20 with 4 assists and 5 turnovers.
End of third quarter, FBU 79-72: Amazingly, the Celtics, for as poorly as they have played, are within striking distance. Rajon Rondo, who has played 30 minutes, leads the Celtics with 13 points and nine assists. Jared Sullinger and Jason Terry each have 12.
Third quarter, 2:10, FBU 72-64: Fenerbahce Ulker played each of the past two nights but it looks fresher and more passionate than the Celtics, who have 20 turnovers before their first 20-point scorer. Rajon Rondo has five of those, including a couple of silly backcourt miscues. Kevin Garnett has 6 points in 15 minutes.
Third quarter, 5:47, FBU 68-58: It seems to be Fenerbahce's night, it is hitting everything from the field and the Celtics look plain flat after some hard practices over the past few days. Jason Terry has 12 points and Jared Sullinger 10 for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo has 7 points and 7 assists. Romain Sato has 18 points and Bo McCalebb has 11 and four assists for Fenerbahce.
Halftime, FBU 55-45: The Celtics are playing horribly, having committed a whopping 14 turnovers and allowing FBU to shoot 51 percent. Also, Boston's pick-and-roll defense has been nonexistent as the FBU big man have been cutting to the basket with ease. Former Xavier standout Romain Sato has 16 points for Fenerbahce. Jared Sullinger has 8 for the Celtics.
Second quarter, 1:53, FBU 49-43: FBU is pick-and-rolling Boston right out of Turkey and the Celtics are helpless. Romain Sato has 14 points for FBU while big man Oguz Savas has 8 -- all off layups. Jared Sullinger is scoring but he can't stop the bigger Savas defensively, something that could be an issue as the regular season approaches.
Second quarter, 8:30, FBU 39-35: Fenerbahce Ulker has drained four 3-pointers in the three minutes of the quarter and the Celtics look a little ragged. Doc Rivers called a timeout in the middle of an offense possession, so he's not happy. Rajon Rondo has 7 points and Kevin Garnett has 6.
End of first quarter, Celtics 27-26: After looking a bit uninterested in the first half of the period, the Celtics bench picked up the intensity and ended the quarter on a 19-8 run. Jeff Green scored 5 points, Jared Sullinger scored a bucket off the bench and Rajon Rondo has 7 points. Romain Sato leads FBU with 5.
First quarter, 2:55, FBU 22-18: The Celtics have finally arrived here in Istanbul and the bench is making the rally. Jeff Green already has 5 points and a great sign for the Celtics is that he looks comfortable and smooth. Rajon Rondo already has three assists.
First quarter, 5:43, FBU 18-8: Fenerbahce is on an 11-0 run as the Celtics have grown cold from the field and are making silly turnovers trying to impress the Turkish crowd. Meanwhile, FBU is using a passing game to break down the Celtics' defense. There is a lot of work to do for Boston.
First quarter, 8:20, FBU 9-8: The Celtics look comfortable against Fenerbahce but Romain Sato and shoot from long distance and he already had 5 points. Kevin Garnett has 4 for Boston.
The Celtics' season is finally here and we'll have all the updates for you as they take on Fenerbahce Ulker of Turkey at 2 p.m.
As for the game, Chris Wilcox (back spasms), Avery Bradley (shoulder surgery) and Micah Downs (sore left shoulder) are out. The injury really damages Downs's chances of staying longer in training camp.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the starters will play about half the game and he'll allow the younger players to go most of the second half.
Two players to watch for Fenerbahce Ulker are point guard Bo McCalebb and center Michael Batiste. Batiste, a former Long Beach State player, is a European veteran. McCalebb played at the University of New Orleans and is considered one of the best point guards in Europe.
The Celtics play their first exhibition game of the preseason Friday afternoon vs. Turkish team Fenerbahce Ulker at 9 p.m. Istanbul time. You can watch the game live on Comcast Sportsnet New England at 2 p.m. Eastern.
The Celtics begin their exhibition season today in Istanbul. As the the games begin, our roster focus ends. Here's the last edition (note: it was difficult to find a more current photo).
7-feet, 250 pounds, 27-years-old
2012/13 salary: $1.3
Strengths: We've saved the best for last. I'm being facetious, of course, but the point of this little exercise is to identify actual strengths or weaknesses of these players rather than hammer home perceived notions. Milicic is a legitimate 7-footer. He can rebound and block shots, and he has a good variety of post moves. He's a perfectly capable second or third-string NBA center.
Room to improve: Milicic could get better in all of those areas. The Celtics will settle for defense and rebounding.
Projections for 2012/13: 57 games, 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 blocks
Outlook:Milicic will never live up to being the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft (ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh). But he also doesn't have to be a punchline. Frontcourt depth is something the Celtics have needed most of all, and Milicic is an above-average reserve. The Celtics can use him when they go big and sit him in other rotations, and by the end of the season fans will be grateful he is there.
ISTANBUL -- After instituting some new offensive sets, Celtics coach Doc Rivers just allowed his team to freely scrimmage without many constraints Thursday. What's more, he allowed players such as injured guard Avery Bradley and reserve Dionte Christmas to draw up key plays for the White team (the reserves and camp invitees) against the Green team (the first eight players).
What resulted at the Darussafaka Spor Klub Dernegi was a competitive but lighthearted practice, followed by some fun with Turkish students at an NBA Cares event.
"I just wanted them to get up and down the floor," Rivers said. "I just walked around and watched."
The Celtics are preparing for Friday's preseason opener against Fenerbahce Ulker of Istanbul at the Ulker Sports Arena.
Rivers said he plans to play the starters about half the game; he wants his players just to compete and get accustomed to playing opponents again.
"The preseason game, if you win, that'd be great," said Rivers. "If you lose ... I don't want to lose. I'm just trying to get them ready for Miami [in the season opener]. As a player, you can't wait to play somebody else because when you call out the set, they don't know it."
The Celtics reserves were able to defeat the front-liners, 14-11, in the first scrimmage, a sign that the team is deeper.
"It’s good, because it’s only going to make us better," said Paul Pierce, referring to the strength of the reserves. "If you have a third team that can come out there and push the second unit and first unit, it’s only going to make your team better.
"Usually, your third team, that’s always getting blown out, losing every game, but that’s not going to be the case here. I think these guys have a great makeup. They’re going to be good for us throughout the year."
In the NBA Cares event, the Celtics held clinics with groups of kids.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before the season begins. Today it's Jason Terry.
6-feet-2-inches, 176 pounds, 35-years-old
2012/13 salary: $5 million
Strengths: Terry is instant offense off the bench (15.1 points in a reserve role for the Mavericks last season). More than that, he can run an offense as a backup, which is something the Celtics haven't had in a while. With the ball in his hands, Terry makes things happen. Experience and confidence are also strengths. Terry has been here for five minutes and has already established himself as one of the team's leaders.
Room to improve: It will be interesting to see whether or not Terry can fill Ray Allen's role at the end of games. While he should be a dynamite backup to Rondo, Terry's real value could be as a closer. Allen was the perfect complement to Rondo in that he didn't need the ball in his hands to be effective. Will Terry be able to run off screens and knock down the open 3-pointer in the clutch?
Projections for 2012/13: 77 games, 12.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists
Outlook:Terry has endeared himself to Celtics fans. He's taken shots at Miami and the Lakers, and he got a tattoo of Lucky the Leprechaun before he even stepped foot into the Celtics practice facility. He's all in. But the question remains as to whether he can be as effective as Allen in the role Allen played so well since 2007. It's one thing to dismiss Allen because he signed with the enemy. It's another to objectively look at Terry and figure out just how he fits in.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before the season begins. Today it's Jared Sullinger.
6-feet-9-inches, 280 pounds, 20-years-old
2012/13 salary: $1.3 million
Strengths: Sullinger has excelled at every level of basketball. He was a two-time All-American in two years at Ohio State after being one of the best high school players in the country. Scoring and rebounding ability highlight Sullinger's strengths. He can post up, face up, and knock down jump shots. He has a nose for the ball on the glass that the Celtics have lacked in recent seasons.
Room to improve:It's simplistic to say Sullinger would be better if he were taller and slimmer. He isn't. Where Sullinger will have to get better in the NBA is on defense. He needs to be able to defend his own man, and he needs to fit into Boston's complex defensive schemes. He'll also have some work to do against bigger, stronger NBA players. The days of him overpowering his defender and easily getting his own shot should be over.
Projections for 2012/13: 67 games, 6.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 22 minutes/game
Outlook:I think Sullinger's going to get some run this season, which would go against Doc Rivers's usual strategy of not playing rookies. Sullinger is a better backup option than Fab Melo, Jason Collins, and Darko Milicic. Chris Wilcox is theoretically ahead of Sullinger on the depth chart, but Wilcox admitted Friday he was only at 90 percent following heart surgery. Look for Sullinger to be a major part of the rotation.
The session was mostly scrimmaging and the players were intense despite arriving in town less than 24 hours before. Kevin Garnett sank the winning shot in the final scrimmage, one of his customary midrange jumpers, as the session went into overtime. Players were battling and there was even a brief shoving match that involved Garnett and Dionte Christmas.
Courtney Lee jokingly stepped in the middle of the fray and cooled any tensions. Afterward, the players and coaches were available to the local media and Turkish reporters and camera poured onto the court for interviews. Friday's matchup against Fenerbache Ulker is a significant one locally because Fenerbache is one of the favorites to win the Turkish League and perhaps compete for a Euro League title.
"They're a really good team, I don't know a lot about them," Rivers said. "Even if it was a game we were playing the Knicks tomorrow, we wouldn't talk about the Knicks because it's the preseason. In preseason, the way I coach, I rarely bring up the other team. I just focus on our stuff. Our goal is to be ready for opening night."
- Chris Wilcox sat out with back spasm but he was jogging the sidelines with teammate Avery Bradley. Wilcox is considered day-to-day.
- Three Celtics, including Dionte Christmas and Darko Milicic, slipped on the slick court and took ugly tumbles, but every player came out of practice healthy.
- Rajon Rondo. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were surrounded by local media and talked mostly about the team's chances this season. Garnett, in a jovial mood of late, even grabbed a reporter's tape recorder and used it as a microphone.
- The Celtics return to practice in the same location Thursday morning at 11 a.m. local time before lunch and an NBA Cares event in the afternoon.
ISTANBUL -- The Celtics could have easily rested at their team hotel to recover from their 10-hour flight, which stopped in Iceland for refueling and arrived in Turkey at approximately 1:30 p.m.
But coach Doc Rivers ended any thoughts of a day off by holding a short workout at the Besiktas Akatlar Arena. The Celtics practiced for about an hour before returning to the team hotel for what was expected to be a long night of rest in preparations for an 11 a.m. workout Wednesday morning.
The Celtics face Fenerbache Ulker on Friday at 9 p.m. Istanbul time.
"I thought if we went straight [to the hotel] and let them do nothing, they would fall asleep," Rivers said Tuesday evening. "We went back and forth on it, but just getting them in the gym was the right thing."
Said Paul Pierce: "I'm still a little jet-lagged, trying to catch up. All of us are. So we're trying to figure out.
"It's good for us to get up, get into the gym, after practice and go have some dinner and just kind of be on a regular clock schedule. So we have can have fresh legs for tomorrow's practice."
Everybody participated in practice, including Courtney Lee, who said he was fighting a deep thigh bruise the past few weeks.
Rivers said he is not concerned about any security issues, and he trusts the NBA and its security force with protecting the team
"I am aware of it, but not much," he said. "Look, I have blind trust sometimes, probably foolishly, but I do. I just figure we wouldn't be here if it wasn't safe.
"No. 1, the NBA is smarter than that. You can't walk anywhere without bumping into a black suit or security. That's great, and I travel a lot, too, so I don't give it much thought."
Rivers said the team is working mostly on defense but the goal is to have just enough offense to play a game. And he also likes playing two European teams to begin the preseason because they run mainly pick-and-roll offenses.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before the season begins. Today it's Chris Wilcox.
6-feet-10-inches, 221 pounds, 30-years-old
2012/13 salary: $1.3 million
Strengths: Wilcox gives the Celtics an athletic big man off the bench. Before he was diagnosed with an aortic aneurism last season, Wilcox was a capable running mate for Rajon Rondo, finishing several fast breaks with dunks. A mobile big man is a rarity in the NBA, and Wilcox possesses the athleticism to help the Celtics as a backup to Kevin Garnett.
Room to improve: Wilcox is an inconsistent rebounder. In three seasons in Seattle Wilcox averaged 8.2, 7.7, and 7.0 rebounds per game. In his other seven seasons he's averaged more than five rebounds only twice. He is yet another Celtics big man who doesn't list rebounding as his best asset, and yet Doc Rivers may or may not care about that.
Projections for 2012/13: 60 games, 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds
Outlook:Wilcox said at media day Friday that he was about 90 percent of where he thought he would be following heart surgery in March. Conditioning remains an obstacle for him, a problem that is highlighted by the fact that before the surgery, he liked to get out and run. It's going to take him some time to get back into basketball shape, and he may not play as much early in the season as later on. When at full strength, Wilcox is Garnett's No. 1 backup.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before the season begins. Today it's Rajon Rondo.
Starting point guard
6-feet-1-inch, 186 pounds, 26-years-old
2012/13 salary: $11 million
Strengths: Rondo is the best passing point guard in the NBA. He affects the game in ways that don't always show up in the box score -- he's the best player in the NBA between the 3-point lines, wreaking havoc in the passing lanes on one end and thinking four moves ahead on the other. A leader on the floor since Day 1, Rondo has become one of the team's leaders off of it. There's always talk about whether or not you can build a team around Rondo, and that's ludicrous. He's the best player on the Celtics and it isn't really close.
Room to improve:Free throws. I won't even say shooting because I think most of the time Rondo makes the shots he should. But getting his free-throw percentage up over 65 or 70 percent needs to remain a major goal. If Rondo can do that, it keeps the ball in his hands at the end of games and keeps the threat of him driving to the basket and getting fouled in key situations.
Projections for 2012/13: 78 games, 12.1 points, 11.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds.
Outlook:Rondo's proven he can lead a team during the season and in the playoffs. He rises to the occasion in big moments. It's clear Doc Rivers trusts him, and at 26-years-old he still has room to improve. The Celtics have a ton of competition for the NBA title, but Rondo gives Boston a dimension none of the other teams can directly match. He was recently ranked the No. 12 player in the NBA by ESPN. That seems about right.