The Celtics defeated Milano in their second preseason game 105-75 after turning up the defense in the second quarter, so it’s time to overreact to everything that occurred with a quick trip through the box score:
Kevin Garnett is taking it easy. Garnett posted zero points to go with four rebounds and two assists. It’s only the second game of preseason, Garnett is anchoring the defense and establishing some good post-passing rapport with his fellow big-men, especially Jared Sullinger. There’s no reason for Garnett to be grinding it out in the post on either end of the floor this early in the preseason. He only played 12 minutes tonight, he’s fine.
Paul Pierce ran the floor. Through two games the Captain appears to be in great shape, and him leading the Celtics fast-break is as good a sign as any. 14 points three rebounds blah blah blah he’s still Paul Pierce.
Jared Sullinger continued to impress, this time garnering the start from Doc Rivers and finishing the game with nine points and seven rebounds. Earlier this offseason I noted that if Wilcox was out Sullinger would have an opportunity to make an impact and he has. He crashed the boards, got easy baskets, and generally looked like he belonged. One negative sequence stuck out however: During the third quarter Sullinger got blocked in the post and grabbed the rebound, and then proceeded to go right back at his man and rejected again. When Sullinger is on a roll he tends to get a bit stubborn, in a situation like that he needs to settle down and send the ball back out. There will likely be a point where Sullinger has enough post moves to get around defenders like this but he needs to keep a level head and make the right pass until then. I’m nitpicking of course, Sullinger had a great game, but I do think his impact will be limited until he can play the five competently. Doc is limiting him to the four spot until he gets a better feel for how to defend and score against size.
Rajon Rondo had a spectacular first quarter where he scored 17 points on 7/7 shooting (including six jumpers and a pair of free-throws) and then took a back seat the rest of the game off, finishing with six assists and four rebounds to go with his 17 points. If Rondo can keep shooting like this Celtics fans have a lot to be excited about, some of these shots had a very high degree of difficulty. Rondo’s lone layup was an amazing trick-shot and he has yet to miss any free-throws this preseason.
Jason Terry also got the start along with Sullinger. There is no reason to believe this group will ever be starting this season, but I do believe in addition to rewarding Sullinger, Doc wanted to get a sense of how Terry fit in with the starting lineup since he will likely close the game with them. The Jet continues to be great all around; he finished with 11 points two rebounds and three assists, as well as two steals that were the product of some serious defensive hustle. So far Terry is 6-8 from downtown, and with the amount of defense attention Rondo, Garnett, and Pierce demand he’s going to continue seeing a lot more open looks than he did as the second option in Dallas.
Brandon Bass was sneaky good today with 11 points and eight rebounds. He did not miss a FG. I continue to maintain that Bass is underrated.
James Worthy Jeff Green was once again extremely productive with 17 points (on just nine shots) and three rebounds. Any speculation of Jeff Green being pushed by Kris Joseph can probably be put to bed at this point. Green is a legitimate 6’10″ and is taking advantage of mismatches at the three and the four. The biggest question that remains unanswered for Green is if he can do this with the starting unit. If Green can still be assertive when he shares the court with Rondo, Pierce, and Garnett he may actually live up to that $36 million dollar contract.
Darko Milicic had another good game. I’m not willing to buy into Darko yet because, well, he’s Darko, but he had another good game for the C’s. Darko finished with two points, nine rebounds, three assists, and four blocks. Even more incredible was that Darko was leading the team in assists at the half because the offense ran through him during the second period. I don’t know if Darko can keep up this level of play, or if the minutes will even be there for him because he lacks any versatility, but he might actually be an asset for the Celtics. If Doc Rivers can turn Darko around he should be a shoo-in for Coach of the Year. But seriously, it’s preseason, let’s not get too excited about Darko.
Courtney Lee did not start, but had a much better game than on Friday finishing with 11 points on just 5 shots including an athletic up and under layup as well as a poster dunk. I still think Lee fits in much better with the starting unit (at least until Bradley is back) because he doesn’t need the ball, so I wouldn’t read too much into this. The hip injury Lee has been dealing with as well as the shoulder injury he suffered during the game (he’s fine) are likely responsible.
The main takeaway from this game is that the Celtics bench is going to be loads better than last year. Even without Terry the bench scored 54 points today. Even if you flip Terry-Sullinger and Lee-Bass (taking a stab at the starting lineup here) the bench still has 52 points without Avery Bradley. Obviously the bench will not have this much run on a nightly basis and will face much stiffer competition but the talent and ability is there. Rondo might very well be right; this could be the Celtics best team since ’08.
Jamar Smith got another extended look at the PG position and again did not look very good, finishing with two points (on six shots) no assists and three turnovers. I was not a Jamar Smith believer before preseason, and right now the stage seems too big for him. My man-crush Dionte Christmas didn’t get an extended run but still managed to score nine points in nine minutes. If Jamar Smith continues to struggle, expect Dionte to get a shot at the point. Jason Collins is a foul machine, four in 12 minutes. He reminds me of a garbage man (in the best way), but the only big-man he’s ahead of in the rotation is Fab Melo, who had another fantastic goaltend. Chris Wilcox did not play again, and is scheduled for an MRI on his back when the team gets back to Boston.
(Editor’s note: In case you’re a fiend for Celtics analysis, Jay shared his thoughts at MassLive.)
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @OffensiveG.