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The old NBA adage remains: “Don’t jump to conclusions after preseason games.”

 

And for good reason.  There are too many factors that can play into the success or failure of a preseason game that have no bearing on the games that actually count.  Still, what we can do is keep watching and note some particular points of interest from one game and see if any pattern emerges.

Last night, there were quite a few moments worth discussing:

Rajon Rondo

Not only were the Celtic point guards pressuring the ball like crazy last night, but that pressure was paying dividends.  You could easily chalk it up to the pointguards’ hunger for real, organized basketball but in time this might end up being a new Celtics’ strategy.  Rajon Rondo was exceptional at applying on-ball pressure as Philadelphia’s ball handlers haplessly tried to push the ball up the floor.

The pressure was not the only noticeable addition to Rondo’s game.  When the camera first panned to Rondo bringing the ball up the court, the image prompted my girlfriend to exclaim, “He looks big!”  And it’s true.  Rondo’s arms look substantially larger than they did last year.  Aside from feeling totally emasculated by Rajon Rondo (nothing new), this transition may be the most interesting part of a player’s progression through his NBA career.  The transition to which I am referring is the one from stringy, deer-in-headlights, rookie to completely grizzled veteran.  Rondo made the official jump last year from “flashes of brilliance” to outright star but he still did not look like a guy who had been around the block.  Last night, Rondo did not just look like he had been around the block- he looked like he owned it.

Perhaps what exuded this “grizzled veteran” persona even more than the perceived added strength was the way Rondo displayed his confidence.  Usually, Rondo does not lack confidence when it comes to throwing a crosscourt pass and trusting in his teammates to know what to do with it.  Last night’s confidence was different.  In the third quarter, there were at least three instances where Rondo took it upon himself to post-up Jrue Holiday.  This facet of Rondo’s game was always mentioned in passing but had never become a reality.  The results were mixed but again, we cannot really derive anything definitive out of preseason performances.  I am eager to see if the Rondo post-up finds its way into the playbook- especially against the East’s little guys like Holiday, Jameer Nelson, and Darren Collison.

Semih Erden

I was wrong about Semih Erden.   I have previously referred to the Celtics new man in the middle as a “world-class stiff”.  Let me rephrase.  Semih Erden is a “world-class” stiff.

He is still a stiff, but the guy knows how to play basketball.  Erden may have trouble getting off the floor but he plays well with a team, has great hands, and finds himself at the right spots on the court at the right time.  Erden was also very efficient from the floor last night, going 3-for-3 and shooting well from the line (7-for-8).  Unlike most centers, let alone ones that are new to America, Erden does not look tentative and his teammates seem to like him on the court.

There is not a whole lot more the Celtics could ask of their fourth-string center.

Pace

Unfortunately, people do not really start tabulating numbers until the regular season but from the naked eye, the game looked fast.  From top to bottom, first string to third, the Celtics looked like they wanted to run.  A lot of that running could be due to the lack of time this Celtics team, as currently constructed, has spent feeling each other out.  After all, when in doubt, run!  Still, it was nice to see the young guys motor up and down the court in the fourth quarter of a blowout.

It will be interesting to see if the Celtics continue to dictate this pace through the preseason and into the games where they start keeping score.

Odds and Ends

Lots of people are high on Stephane Lasme right now and rightly so.  Lasme is incredibly athletic and is known to be a force on the defensive end.  Unfortunately, there is no track record I can point to that would suggest he would be successful guarding small forwards.  Lasme was an undersized center at UMASS, snagging rebounds and blocking shots next to another skilled big man, Rashaun Freeman, who played power forward.  I cannot wait to see if he gets any time defending small forwards before Doc Rivers makes a decision on the last guy standing.

Those that are high on Lasme right now are equally as low on Von Wafer.  We have yet to read about Wafer returning to his 2008-2009 Houston Rockets’ form.  Wafer’s performance last night also did not do anything to make fans more confident in the belief that Wafer will regain it.

The battle for the final roster spot is always back and forth, so it will be really interesting to hear what everyone has to say if Wafer starts lighting it up.

* * *

Tonight, the Celtics do it all over again with the New Jersey Nets.  Hopefully, we can start determining whether some of what we saw last night is here to stay or just the meaningless bouncing of balls.

  • Rangatiratanga

    I agree about Erden, he has great hands and looks in good shape.How’s his IQ? He could contribute, if either of the O’Neals go out with an injury.

  • Perry

    Doc hinted that a few guys may sit tonight off the back to back. If it’s Shaq does Erden get the start? Here’s hoping that Shaq plays and can put together two solid games since Lopez will be a bigger chore to defend over what was out there last night.

    JO is due back Sunday and it would appear the battle on which O’Neal starts has the potential to be the most interesting storyline of the pre season. Anyway you slice it, with one O’Neal on the bench flanked by Davis and Erden, the front court rotation is stacked.

    D. Harris will play tonight; it could be a chance for Wafer and M. West to showcase their game.

    If Lasme catches fire, but gets cut he could sign a D-league contract with the Red Claws. That would give us a pair of 6’8″ guys (Gody/Lasme) with different skill sets on retainer just in case of injury. Bradley could start the season in uniform given D. West’s suspension. Celts have a pair of back to backs and a tough 4 game road swing during those 10 games … Delonte will be missed.

  • joe

    Lasme played for Maccabi Tel Aviv last year, and was fairly pathetic.
    He has heart, but he doesn’t seem to know how the game is going, where the ball will be, quite often.
    Oh, well/

  • zebulon

    Jrue Holiday is not ‘little’ by any means. He’s listed at 6’4″, and measured around 6’3″ a the combine, without shoes. He’s significantly bigger than Rondo.

  • Batman

    Don’t worry Rondo emasculates us all

  • http://sss@sss.com LAKERS FAN

    I’d like to see a Lakers Celtics Pre season game

  • Jeremy

    your a fucking idiot erden can play moves well finishes defends well does every thing you want a big man to do. all americans have some stupid idea that only good basketballers come from america and if there not already playing in it they obviously cant . there are plenty of guys who could come over from all over the world and be great players in the nba. americans associate athleticism with upside there are so many freakish athletes currently playing in the nba who are plain horrible but as long as they can run and jump they will be considered to have potential

  • http://seattleballers.com/ Seattle Basketball

    Check out this 12 year old phenom Jashaun Agosto. Hopefully Boston drafts him.

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