In the final game of the preseason, the Celtics lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 88-79 (box score), and they will take the next nine days to prepare for opening night against the Miami Heat. Here are some notes from the game:
- The Celtics brought out an interesting starting lineup in Rondo, Pierce, Green, Bass and Garnett. Bass and Pierce both played despite their small physical ailments. Neither JET nor Darko made an appearance.
- The most important take-home from this game was Jeff Green’s continued great offensive play; he and Rondo make a very explosive fast break. He had a few more dunks which had me fist pumping in anticipation of what he will look like when the games matter. Green also did a great job defending Evan Turner, who had 10 points on eleven shots. Those two guarded each other for a good portion of the game as they both started at small forward.
- Courtney Lee is showing improvement as the preseason continues, looking more comfortable at both ends of the court. He played great hustle defense on Nick Young all night, getting up under Young especially on isolation plays.
- It looks as if the Sixers are going to use the Orlando Magic blueprint of having the team centered around an all-star big man down low (Bynum) and surrounding him with good outside shooters (Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Jason Richardson, among others who played with the team last year). The 76ers took 24 three-point shots in comparison to the Celtic’s 10.
- Food for thought: Who takes technical free-throws now that Ray Allen is gone? My inclination is to go with KG, who seems like a lot more consistent free-throw shooter, but it might be a ‘Pierce has been here longer’ type thing. Pierce took the one technical free throw in the game and missed it. Pierce shot 85.2% last season from the line compared to 85.7% for Kevin Garnett.
- Rondo played 33 minutes in the preseason, and it is difficult to imagine him not playing 40+ in important games this season.
- The Celtics seem to be gang rebounding a lot better and more effectively in the preseason than the team did last year. It seems to be a point of emphasis as it was a weakness of the C’s last season which was not addressed with some of the off season moves. The Celtics out-rebounded the Sixers 38 to 37.
- Seeing Lavoy Allen exit the game after fouling out made me think of the Celtics’ recently departed Temple Owl, Dionte Christmas. Best wishes to him where ever his basketball playing takes him.
- Courtney Lee played point guard for the better part of the fourth quarter, and it was dicey at best. It seems as though Terry will be the primary ball handler for the team when Rondo is out of the game.
- Tommy Heinsohn said that he thinks the 76ers are better than both the Knicks and the Nets. I agree, especially with a healthy Bynum.
The close of the preseason means the opening of the regular season is next. The next week of practices will determine who makes the final squad and what player combinations the Celtics will attack the Heat with.