“Somebody will win it,” Rivers said of the backup job behind Allen. “And we’re going to let them. We’re honest with guys. There’s a spot there, and all of you aren’t going to play it. So it’s been a competitive camp because of that.”
Of all the new faces, Moore has arguably been the biggest surprise thus far.
A late second-round pick in last June’s NBA draft by the Celtics, Moore has been among the more consistent performers for the C’s thus far in training camp.
That confidence and poise is in part because he spent four years in college.
“I was basically taking what they were giving us,” Moore said. “Just having confidence can lead you a long way. And I had confidence to knock down shots when I was open.”
“I know everybody is going to be working hard for that position,” [Avery] Bradley said of the backup job. “I’m going to be coming in and work hard and do everything Doc (Rivers) tells me to do. Whoever gets the position gets it, but at the end of the day I’m going to come in (and) I’m always going to grind and always going to work hard.”
The Celtics did not approach last night’s scrimmage like a practice session.
They checked into a hotel, had a team meal, went to TD Garden for a morning shootaround, and returned to be greeted by a national anthem singer and an enthusiastic crowd of invited guests and season ticket-holders.
“We basically did it like a regular game,’’ center Jermaine O’Neal said. “It really felt like a regular preseason game. It was the genius of Doc [Rivers] – that’s the first time I ever had an intrasquad scrimmage like that.’’
It was only a scrimmage, but Avery Bradley produced one of the biggest moments of his pro career when he splashed a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer lifting the Green team — also featuring Marquis Daniels, JaJuan Johnson, Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling, and Greg Stiemsma — over the White team — featuring Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Jermaine O’Neal, E’Twaun Moore, Rajon Rondo, Gilbert Brown, and Michael Sweetney — 52-51.
The Green team, which trailed for much of the night, had pulled ahead with 5.1 seconds to play when Chris Wilcox put back a Bradley miss, but second-round draft pick E’Twaun Moore answered with a clutch 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds to play. Unfazed, Bradley got caught with the ball in a late audible and calmly drained the winner as teammate Paul Pierce — who is nuring a sore right heel and, like Kevin Garnett (sore thumb) and Sasha Pavlovic (left wrist injury) did not participate in the scrimmage — spilled onto the floor in celebration.
Chris Wilcox had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the White team.
“I was really happy with the second-unit guys, they kind of hung in there just long enough,’’ Rivers said. “Chris was really struggling at one point and he kind of gathered himself at some point.
“I liked the ending, the calls, all that stuff was good. You kind of see how people handle it, get over it, and, so, a lot of good things. I wasn’t sure about it but I’m glad we did this. Instead of an open practice, where you’re doing a 3-point contest, we actually got something out of this.’’
O’Neal’s goal is to play upwards of 90 percent of Boston’s total games this season (that’d be nearly 60 of the 66 on this condensed schedule). He says his body feels up to the challenge and Rivers has his back.
“If we had an MVP trophy, and maybe we should have one for camp, I think he would win it,” said Rivers. “He’s been phenomenal throughout camp. He’s been absolutely wonderful.”
O’Neal? The same player Rivers seemed frustrated with for falling behind in camp last year when he was slowed by a hamstring injury, and who disappeared for a large stretch while he worked to get back in playing shape? The same O’Neal who initially elected against knee surgery, only to settle for the procedure a short time later, leaving little time to work his way back before the postseason arrived?
Yes, that O’Neal.
“No. 1, he’s bought in defensively, he knows where to be all the time,” said Rivers. “Now he’s become a talker. That’s one of the things — Kevin [Garnett], [Kendrick Perkins], [Glen Davis] and all those guys had — Jermaine was new to it. We didn’t have that a lot last year. Jermaine was learning it and you’ve heard [Shaquille O'Neal] talk before, so no one could understand what the hell he was saying — the mumble. It’s good that Jermaine got it. Offensively, he just knows where to be now. All those little things, and he looks healthy — he’s just healthy.”
Ray Allen on his NBA future: ”When I decide to stop playing, it won’t be because of me. I think it will be more because of my circumstances. … Obviously, for one, if I’m not here anymore, that’s a huge deterrent. You end up having to play somewhere that’s not to the standards of where I’ve been in here for these last four or five years. Physically, I’m in a great place. So, I don’t worry about that at all. But again, there’s so many unforeseen circumstances that can take place that can cause me to say it’s time for me to hang it up.”
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