Alas, Celtics basketball is back. Yes, the Celtics did lose to the Turkish team Fenerbahce 97-91. Yes they were exploited in a couple of key areas, but overall there are optimistic whispers surrounding the C’s, with a sparkle of hope gleaming in my eyes as the regular season is less than four weeks away. There is a light at the end of the tunnel– October 30th, and lord does it feel good.
Now to actually discussing what happened. The Celtics impressed me with the offensive flow that the second unit was able to establish in only a couple days of training camp. The Celtics played their starting five for limited minutes, and as a result there was a good sneak peak into how the bench might function. Even in the first game of the pre-preseason, there was a smooth offensive flow between some of the bench players, and a little teaser of a Jeff Green/Jason Terry pick and roll which was something I didn’t anticipate, but was happy to see. Something that the Celtics have been developing over the last couple seasons is Rondo’s post play. It seems like it could be the year where the C’s really go to it more often, and let Rondo work some of his crafty post moves which could provide an interesting twist to some of the normal offensive sets.
Unfortunately it was not all flowers and sunshine, as the Celtics caused some worries with their defense on the perimeter (specifically in the pick and roll), lack players to protect the rim, and rebounding. The Celtics continuously let the Fenerbahce guards fly down the lane reminiscent of the Kizilirmak River (an international themed simile, I thought it was appropriate given the occasion). Furthermore they did not have the rim protection to cover up the dribble penetration, as Darko and Fab were both a step slow on when hedging. The help defense will get better, but the lack of big men on the roster may force the Celtics to push the ball in transition (which looked great when Rondo led the break). The guys in green won the rebounding battle in terms of numbers but still seemed to lack communication as to who was pursuing the ball and who was putting a body on the opposing big men. Another thing we can most likely chalk up to ‘will come with time’, but certainly an area to keep an eye on. Playing Fenerbahce in particular made it abundantly clear what areas the Celtics need to improve on. Fenerbahce boasted a lightning quick backcourt with versatile big men (who all seemed to have a receding hairline reminiscent of Nenad Krstic) who knew how to run the pick and roll and spring off backdoor cuts. A good learning experience indeed.
It was hard for me to put aside my utter bliss for basketball being back to do some real analysis on this game. There is a lot to work on for the team by North Station, but a great deal of hope moving forward as the Celtics continue to learn to function as a singular unit.