Well the Celtics have made it through training camp, as well as a quarter of their preseason schedule. Clearly so it’s time to start making some early knee jerk thoughts about this upcoming season, based on what we’ve seen so far.
Celtics vs. Knicks Breakdown: While the game was about as ugly as they come offensively from both teams for the first half, there was a lot to take from the game in my estimation. It had the feel of a 3rd preseason NFL game with Doc Rivers rotating through only his main rotation players in the first 3 quarters.
By going only 10-11 deep it looked like Doc was trying to gain some consistency and familiarity with the bench unit while letting his starters begin to reestablish a rhythm as well. Guys like Michael Sweetney, J.R. Giddens and even Shelden Williams didn’t get a whiff of the pine until the 4th quarter. Granted, it was only one game but I think we are all ready getting a glimpse of what potential bench combinations Doc has in mind for his revamped bench this upcoming season. A few words on the players involved in these:
Lester Hudson: The point guard has shown some flashes thus far along with the usual rookie mistakes. Everyone knows he has a strong track record offensively, but it is likely will be his pesky defense on opposing point guards that will need to shine through to allow him to earn him a spot on the C’s active roster.
If Lester proves he can play solid D, his overall offensive game likely makes him a potential upgrade over Tony Allen for this team as the team’s 11 or 12th man off the bench. Hudson needs to show the ability to be the team’s 3rd point guard in a pinch, which would allow Doc to shift Daniels to the 2 or 3.
Hudson’s shooting abilities would give Doc an option to throw a smaller bench unit out there with five guys that can square up from anywhere on the floor in Hudson, Eddie House, Daniels, Scal and Rasheed Wallace. We saw this crew together last night for a few minutes in the 3rd, so keep your eye out for these five playing together more as the preseason progresses.
It’s too early to tell if Hudson will make the active roster on opening night, but his development will make him become a threat for that 12th spot off the pine if not now, as the season progresses. Speaking of that 12th spot, let’s talk about Hudson’s competition for it:
Tony Allen: TA made his preseason debut last night, and unfortunately for Celtics fans, it was more of the same frustrating play for the guard out of Oklahoma State. Allen is recovering from ankle surgery and looked to be moving fairly well out on the floor, while attempting to make some aggressive moves to the hoop. However, Allen led the way for a stagnant Celtics offense in the 2nd quarter, as TA’s aggressiveness worked against him in the form of a couple missed layups, an offensive foul and a bad pass in traffic with the 2nd unit.
It’s obviously early and not too much should be judged from TA’s first game back, but Allen will have to become a better finisher and less of a black hole on offense with the ball if he wants to see anytime on the floor or even be on the active roster once the regular season begins.
J.R Giddens vs. Michael Sweetney for final roster spot: Brendan touched upon this briefly in his recap of the game last night, but the prospect of the biggest man ever to wear a Celtics uniform making the team appears to be a possibility. Sweetney has showed more thus far in limited minutes this preseason, leading the team in points (and pounds) in their game against Houston Wednesday night. Neither saw much time in Friday night’s tilt so little could be gathered from that.
While the team is deep in the front court, if Sweetney is showing more potential than Giddens, he could become a candidate to be shipped down to NBDL to slim down and provide some insurance for the team. Giddens is helped by the fact that Bill Walker’s injury limits the team’s depth at the 2/3 spot for the time being. JR though is by no means a sure thing to make this team and will have to show something this preseason in order to guarantee himself a spot on the 15 man roster.
A couple quick hit closing thoughts before we go.
Brian Scalabrine: He will be doing a little bit of everything this year as 10th man off the bench. I will have a longer post on Scal evolution with the C’s later this week, but in what is now his 5th year with the team, Doc knows exactly what Scal can give him on the floor. He has Doc’s confidence and it will show as he will find the veteran minutes this year at the 3 and 4 despite the team’s revamped bench.
Rasheed Wallace: He is in love with the 3 ball and this may frustrate C’s fans at times. His rebounding and ability to bring big men out of the paint to cover him will likely overshadow any qualms his critics may have.
Kendrick Perkins: His offensive game will turn a lot of heads this year, and I look for him to step it up as he becomes a viable post threat down low, that will make the Celtics even more dangerous this year.
More thoughts to come tomorrow as the Celtics host the Nets at 1pm, during a very busy day for sports in Beantown.