After a lackluster performance in their first preseason game, the Boston Celtics fired on all cylinders to beat Milano EA7 Emporio Armani Milano by thirty points, 105-75. As I’ve said before, it’s hard to analyze an exhibition game between two teams that aren’t even in the same league or talent level. However, there are always positives that can be taken away, and in the last two games the second unit has shown us a lot.
Today, Darko Milicic was exceptional on defense, grabbing 9 rebounds and blocking 4 shots. The way he played in the paint today won’t show up on the stat sheet, but he played very effective minutes. Darko was much more comfortable and he had a better sense of where his man was, which in turn put him in the right spot to contend layups. I don’t want to buy into any hype, but the way he played today, I think he’ll be a great backup center. If he just comes in with the second unit, contests shots and grabs boards, the fans will begin to appreciate him.
In the last two games it has become clear to me that Jason Terry and Jeff Green are going to be a lethal scoring duo off the bench. They combined for 38 points today, and what makes them compliment each other so well is that Terry is primarily a perimeter shooter, while Green is the more aggressive, take the ball to the rim kind of player. These two players alone can ease the burden off of the Big Three this season, if they can consistently produce numbers like this.
Jeff Green showed his range by making all of his three point shots, and I have to say, I didn’t know he had a consistent outside shot. So far this preseason I’ve seen that he is not one dimensional, which is why I think he’s a very valuable player to the team. He’s going to be a work in progress this season, just in terms of getting back in shape and establishing a rhythm, but I’m impressed with how far he’s come this early in the preseason.
Jared Sullinger got the start at power forward today and continued right where he left off. He scored nine points to go along with seven rebounds, and did all the little things when trying to box out to contend for offensive boards. His defense is going to need some work, especially when covering some of the faster forwards in the league. There were a few times he’d be late rotating to his man off screens. For a guy his size, he does a very good job down on the block when getting posted up.
It’s amazing how productive the Celtics bench is, considering we haven’t seen Avery Bradley yet, and probably won’t until December at the earliest. When healthy, the second unit could be flat out dangerous. There aren’t many teams as deep as Boston, and if Doc Rivers can utilize the pieces he has, the starters will not be relied upon as much as they’ve been in years previous. Even though it’s just the preseason and we shouldn’t get carried away, this year’s bench is the deepest the Celtics have ever fielded since the championship year of 2008. If the last two games were any indication of what we might see this season, Boston is going to have a second unit that can score and do all the little things that carry the team far into the playoffs.