Before I gush too much about Boston’s defensive performance, let’s just go over a few things first:
1) Elton Brand, Andres Nocioni, and Andre Iguodala were out
2) Philly was on the second night of a back to back
3) This is their second game under Doug Collins, so this young team probably haven’t even remotely learned his offense yet.
4) The Sixers may be very well one of the least talented teams in the league this year
With that said though, you can’t help but be enamored with the effort from both units in this laugher, as the C’s cruised to a 28 point win that wasn’t even remotely as close as the score indicated. You could go throw a laundry list of impressive numbers to show the defensive domination….forcing 9 first quarter turnovers, limiting Philly to 17% shooting, 9 first quarter points and just 22 first half points.
The starters set the tone from the opening tip and the second team picked up right where they left off. Philadelphia probably would have made any defense look good tonight, but you couldn’t help but be encouraged by the all-around effort this evening.
Doc commented that the D was far ahead of the offense at this point before this one started and he certainly wasn’t selling his guys short as garbage time began halfway through the first frame.
Enough about the D though, let’s take a look at a few storylines that may actually matter from this one:
Hitting The Glass
Biggest thing that stuck out to me about the starter’s play was just how much Ray Allen and Paul Pierce was hitting the glass. Allen led the team with 8 boards in his limited minutes, while Pierce chipped in with 4, and it seems like both man made a concerted effort to get in there and get their hands dirty, especially for the preseason game.
Rebounding opportunities should come more readily for both guys with Shaq occupying multiple bodies in the paint while he’s in there, but this will be something to keep an eye on as we progress to the opener and watch this unit mesh without Perk’s presence.
Big Baby Showing Offensive Balance
He started as a banger, shifted to a more perimeter focused game, than back to a banger last year with Sheed in the fold. He complained about this shift last week, but tonight we saw on full display a perfect balance of these two offensive components within Baby’s game as he was the clear go to guy for the second unit. 19 points overall, with a team high 10 trips to the line, Baby did it by slashing off of pick and rolls, while also mixing in a couple jumpers to keep the defense honest.
I’m excited to have this guy healthy for a full season during a contract year, as long as he doesn’t pull down his pants anymore while on the court.
The Erden/Lasme Show
Let’s start with the Turk, who has a special opportunity to showcase himself with the second team this week, as Jermaine O’Neal rests his hamstring. Semih really made the most of his opportunity, showing composure while finishing around the basket and also getting to the charity stripe regularly (7/8) on his way to 13 points.
Besides the offensive output, I particularly liked how Erden crashed the offensive glass hard, something this team could clearly use some help in this year. Also 2 impressive blocks for his trouble. I guess all the Erden Watches during the FIBA Championship actually may have been useful after all.
Meanwhile, if you want to see how to make an impact in just seven minutes of preseason play, just watch Stephanie Lasme’s effort from tonight. 12 points in 7 minutes. The guy was everywhere on offense, cutting to the hoop, hitting the glass, pure energy out there. Again, this was garbage time in preseason, but the man made the most of his opportunity out there.
I’m not going to waste time discussing his chances of making this squad, there is too big of a logjam in the frontcourt for him to sneak in, but I’m be thrilled if Danny could sneak him to Portland without some other team grabbing him after final cuts. The guy is still raw offensively, but with some more seasoning could be a useful energy guy down the line a couple years.
*Bubble watch continues with Von Wafer and Mario West. Neither did much to distinguish himself tonight. Wafer seemed to be trying a bit too hard to distribute the ball and make the extra pass offensively, then just had trouble getting the ball altogether once the entire third unit came in. I’d love to see him get some run with the second unit soon, to see what he could do with some open looks.
* The outlet passing was exceptional, especially by the starters tonight. It’s nice too the second unit has a couple ballhandling options now to pass to.
* Speaking of the second unit, was surprised to see Marquis Daniels running a little point out there with West and Nate manning the wings on offense for multiple possessions. I guess I see where Doc may be going with this, since it’s nice to have your shooters off the ball to help spread the floor, but definitely didn’t expect Quisy to be an option at the one at all after last year. Something to keep an eye on.
* Was it just me or did it look like Rondo was taking batting practice for most of the 1st half with all those home runs balls he was throwing? He’s getting ridiculously good at them too. Nice to be able to do that with guys you’ve played with for four years now.
* Pierce looks more refreshed than ever.
* Evan Turner is an early favorite to be the biggest bust of this draft.
* Shaq’s offensive really isn’t pretty but it still gets the job done.
* Loved how much the bench was into it at the end of the fourth quarter, especially for Lasme. Reminds me of the first year they were all together. Love the camaraderie and sense of urgency it help creates for everyone to play their butt off until the end.
That’s all for now, the guys are back at it in New Jersey tomorrow night. We’ll have you covered here. Meanwhile, what stuck out to you guys about this one?