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Stiemsma’d! Celtics 76 Raptors 75

 

Greg Stiemsma tipped in the winning basket on the final Celtics possession as Boston took down the Raptors 76-75 in the first game of a home-and-home mini-series.

Of course, that game-winning putback may prove to be the highlight of Stiemsma’s season. Which is the standard lesson of all pre-season basketball: Read too much into the results — both team and individual — at your peril.

Of course, there were some notable happenings this afternoon. A few highlights:

STARTERS

Kevin Garnett logged 24 minutes in Doc Rivers’ new rotation, which has him playing repeated five-minute bursts rather than the long stretches he’s traditionally handled the past 15 years. The agenda here is to keep KG fresh into the spring, facilitate him going up and down the court while playing center in small lineups and encourage him to attack more regularly on the offensive end.

Jermaine O’Neal was terrific anchoring the defense, in no small part because he’s come to camp leaner and more focused than last year, when Rivers spend the early part of the season coding his disgust at O’Neal’s absence for media members. O’Neal put up two blocks and moved well all day, finishing at +13 overall. Given how well the Celtics played last season with a true center, be it J.O. or Shaquille O’Neal, his continued health and production are crucial for this team.

Starting in place of the injured Paul Pierce (heel), Marquis Daniels looked like a new man out there in his third go-round with the C’s. His offensive game is a major boon to this team when he’s assertive. He can work in the post, handle the ball and hit the mid-range shot. Quis played only 51 and 49 games with the Celtics the last two years so expectations are tempered across the board. But if he can stay healthy this year, he can not only position himself for a multi-year contract but suck up many of the minutes originally slated for Jeff Green.

RESERVES

E’Twaun Moore already appears to have surpassed JaJuan Johnson on the depth chart, in part because Johnson’s stuck behind a logjam of power forwards but also because Moore looks confident on the court. The second-round pick shot only 2-6 and doesn’t come with great athletic gifts but appears to be positioning himself to grab some condensed-season minutes (that’s a fun sideline to the crazy season ahead — who will prove themselves legit rotation players in the league when forced into action by the dense schedule?).

Brandon Bass (9 points, 5 boards, 3 steals) and Chris Wilcox (7 points, 5 boards) look like excellent fits for this bench and the kind of guys who will benefit from working in the Celtics’ offense (once they learn to keep their heads up for Rajon Rondo’s any-angle passes and KG’s dropoffs in the paint).

Neither is an offensive savant but Wilcox offers the C’s some much needed offensive rebounding ability and Bass shoots better from the perimeter than Glen Davis. Both are also on the Rondo side of 30, which means they can fill lanes on the break. Watch for both of their at-rim shooting percentages to rise this year. Bass should also see lots of open looks in the mid-range.

(Unrelated: for all the talk of Rondo benefiting from the presence of the big three, he’s never had the kind of young athletes around him that would allow him to thrive in transition on a regular basis. That hasn’t been completely rectified this season but the new bench is a step in the right direction).

Avery Bradley and Keyon Dooling each played 18 minutes at the backup guard spots (Bradley will be a backup-2 this season, almost exclusively if Doc is to be believed). It’s far too early to make any concrete assessments but Bradley looked more confident than last year, getting to the line four times. And Dooling looked competent even though he struggled to turn the corner on the pick and roll a couple of times.

Leaders: Ray Allen had 12 points in a team high 28 minutes, Garnett had 7 rebounds, and Rondo led the team with 8 assists and 4 steals.

The Celtics now have 72 hours before their final preseason game against the Raptors which tips Wednesday night at the TD Garden.

  • Zee

    Sorry, but from my estimation, Bradley look far from confident. He didn't make wise decisions either. He would almost pass the ball instantly, or either go to the rim instantly (and get it blocked; he got his shot blocked more than once). At the line he did well. Still, I didn't see the confidence needed to be a contender. Maybe compared to himself last year, more confidence. But compared to what we need? Not quite there in my opinion. Dooling looked much better in my opinion.

    • Morpheus

      Yeah, i want to believe Bradley will step up this season, but he did not look good to me out there, or maybe i'm reading too much into a pre season game….i don't know. When he does get to the rim he's a weak finisher and his confidence looks incrementally better than last season at best.

      We will see with Bradley soon enough though. If i was to give him a rating, i'd give him a D.

  • Zee

    I agree on the pick and roll thing with Dooling. But that can be easily fixed. At least I didn't see any lack of confidence like I saw with Bradley.

  • ElRoz

    Rondo still cannot make mid-long range 2-pointers…..so far there seems to be no progress with him.

    • redcon

      why does everyone show disdain when someone mentions a obvious attribute lacking in rondo`s game .I do agree on avery offensively he still hesitates too much but defensively he seems find moore is a very good shooter but if you watch the entire game you will notice he struggld to stay in front of anyone JJ seemed lost but his athleticism jumps out as soon as you see him i believe he will contribute down the line in the interim he needs to learn the plays

      • redcon

        "he seems fine"

        • Batman

          who showed disdain? people just downvote EIRoz because of his droll manner

    • Morpheus

      Agreed, it's looking like he's suffering from "can't shoot" syndrome, and there's no cure for it. I guess we'll have to live with this weakness of Rondo's for as long as he's a Celtic.

      Those underhanded passes of his, has to be a trademark now.

      • Mr Cross

        mind you, rondo still nursing that ankle injury.
        i had one recently and trying to shoot is somewhat harder
        give him a couple of games before passing judgement

  • ripsonics

    the funny thing to me is with the announcement of Jeff Green being out for the season, everyone is saying that the celtics are dooooooooooooooomed!

    Was Jeff Green really the reason we were going to be good this year? Sure he was going to back up Paul Pierce and be able to guard the lebrons of the league (is there more than one lebron..?), along with the ability to go small.

    May I remind all of us that Jeff Green did not do as great of a job guarding the 3's last year as we had hoped, and when we went small with him at the four, we sucked. So if people were hoping that during camp he would have figured all of those things out, I would like to meet those people and shake their hands because their level of optimism knows no limits!

    If for some reason people believed Jeff Green was going to make leaps and bounds over last year, than they too deserve a hand shake. I am sure he made improvements, and was going to come back 'better' — but to me, Jeff Green was not the player that was going to make or break our year. The player(s) that make or break our year are on the bench… plain and simple. Has been that way every year. So I think if the bench is the same or better than years past, I think we will be just fine.

    Go C's

    • Batman

      he was actually pretty good defending 3s according to Hollinger
      surprised me greatly

      • ripsonics

        yeah I am sure that he was good against other 3's in the NBA but he was brought in specifically to guard lebron and melo, and wasn't very good at doing that.

        • Batman

          well is Daniels can stay healthy we'll be ok

          • ripsonics

            absolutely batman. absolutely.

          • Morpheus

            "The player(s) that make or break our year are on the bench… plain and simple. Has been that way every year. So I think if the bench is the same or better than years past, I think we will be just fine."

            Then you are wrong. Sorry, but our bench was terrible last season and really wasn't that much better previous. The best bench we've had was back in 07-08 with Posey, House, Powe, PJ, BBD(rookie), Cassell. None of those players are with us anymore.

          • ripsonics

            well.. actually you are wrong. "years past" does not just mean last year

            When our bench is good… we'll be good.

            our bench was bad last year – we were bad. It was pretty good – ok actually every year but last year with all the injuries

          • Morpheus

            Oh yeah i forgot TA, maybe because he was injured for most of that season

        • OKCeltic

          Who is good on those two on a regular basis?

          • ripsonics

            2009-2010 was an 'ok' bench.. Tony Allen, Rasheed, Glen Davis – but again, they were not that great.. My whole comment has to do with when the bench is good we'll be good.. years past really only meant 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 when we were pretty damn good until KG went down with an injury. '08 – '09 had davis, powe, house and tony allen all averaging 7+ points off the bench.

            Just sayin Jeff Green was not the make it or break it to this season.

  • yeah

    Avery Bradley needs to listen to hypnotherapy confidence tapes in his sleep

  • http://twitter.com/CelticsDaily @CelticsDaily

    We are gonna win against Toronto. Go Celtics, we will not let Rondo go! http://bostoncelticsdailynews.com/

  • CG12

    Bass and Quisy both looked really good vs. Toronto. It would be nice to have Green, but it seems like a real stretch to say his absence is really going to hurt the Cs. The Cs have a deep bench this year and there were already a lot of questions about what could be expected out of Green. Dooling, Quisy, Bass, and Wilcox are a really good bench line-up. Doc has talked like Pavlovic will be in the running for real minutes, but I don't see that happening unless 3-point shooting is an issue with the second team, because Dooling is really the only guy who can make them with that group.

    Did anybody notice Sweetney on the bench in Toronto? Holy moly! That guy is not an ounce under 400 pounds.

  • http://twitter.com/seanthoughtwhat @seanthoughtwhat

    Unrelated, but Perk was 6-8 at the line for OKC in their game.

    • Batman

      really man? was this comment necessary?

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