The Celtics went in to Hartford and took down an Eastern Conference foe handily in last night’s preseason game. Much of the analysis going around had Toronto as a team to be feared with its new personnel but the Celtics went out and smacked the Raptors in the mouth and they never recovered. I was caught in the city (close to it) and I had to split time at two bars watching the game (props to The Roadhouse in Brookline and The Cherry Tree in West Newton). Here’s the interesting part though: I had to ask both bars to change at least one TV from the Boise State v. Tulsa game to the C’s game. C’mon Boston, where’s the excitement? Kevin Garnett is back! Speaking of Garnett being back, there are a few bullet points I’d like to mention…
Ahh! The first (public) Garnett alley-oop sighting! I got so excited I almost knocked over my IPA (drink responsibly). Still though, seeing the play didn’t out-weigh the fear in me when KG got smacked in the mouth and kneed in the calf. This is the second preseason game in which Garnett has been kneed in the calf. Are opposing teams head-hunting? No, this isn’t baseball and basketball is a contact sport. Knees in calves happen. Still, it doesn’t stop me from wondering, “It’s preseason, get ‘em out of there and let him get injured in the regular season!” But that’s just it. Garnett’s toughening up right now and getting better with each game.
KG is also having a positive effect on Giddens. Did you see that tip out rebound? It was vintage Garnett only from a 6’5″ kid. Both Giddens and a Toronto player went up for a rebound and knowing he wasn’t going to secure it with both hands, Giddens tipped it out toward the top of the key and it found its way to the Celtics. Great hustle play. In fact…
Great hustle all around. The bench was one of the biggest knocks last year and they are playing this preseason like none of them have guaranteed contracts. The bench had seven offensive boards and four steals- and those are only the things that show up in box scores. The bench were diving for loose balls, playing the passing lanes, and chesting people up. Almost unexpectedly, the bench also played calm and efficient on offense. Shelden Williams knocked down some open jumpers and Davis actually played well around the hoop. I think Davis is well on his way to a patented hook-shot and a patented fade-away in the lane. He’s just been so good with those two shots this preseason.
Pierce is playing unbelievably well. He seems extremely spry. Last night, he made two plays that stood out in my mind that he does not make if this is last season: one was the steal in transition where he had to jump and contort his back matrix-style in order to secure the ball and the second was the up-fake drop-step two handed jam. Pierce seems to be giving a big F-you to all the people who laughed when he said he felt he was the best player in the game. I don’t think The Truth is the best player in the game but he definitely deserves to be in the conversation of best all-around players in the league. He’s a bonafide superstar and he’s on track to have a huge season.
Kendrick Perkins just looks so fast and agile after he dropped a few pounds this offseason. He’s getting to balls he was routinely out-jumped for last season and it just bodes so well for the Celtics this season.
A day after he nearly messed around and got a triple-double, Rondo showed some veteran leadership and didn’t try to score a million points. Two nights ago, Rondo admitted that he wanted to lead the team past the Nets and it’s just so nice to see that the feeling didn’t transfer to the Raptors game. He came out last night, played efficiently and actually made some jumpers. His jumpers are also taken within the offense and with immense confidence which I love.
Sweetney Watch! Michael Sweetney played pretty well on offense making a nice pass to Davis down-low from the top of the key. Still, he needs to keep running up and down the court a hundred more times if he wants to help this team.
I think Hudson is going to help the C’s a lot. He’s quick enough and long enough to be a great defensive player. The most surprising thing is that he’s not going out chucking shots up. While in college, I always checked his games’ box scores to see how much he filled it up- my friends and I even took bets on it. But I never actually saw him play and how he got those points, boards, and assists. Right now he seems like the ultimate team-player and that’s the only thing he’s being asked to be right now.
The Raptors are going to be good this year. They’re not going to go away after short little runs. But this Celtics team is scary-good. In the spirit of some preseason-preemptive hyperbole, I like what ‘Sheed is sayin’.