Boston Celtics: Excitement Abroad
There is a familiar sentiment associated with the Celtics recent trip to both Turkey and Milan. One could say the familiarity is eerie, however, having a negative reaction just wouldn’t be proper. In 2007, before the start of the season, the Celtics traveled to London and Rome with a host of new pieces, including Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. That trip is what helped establish “umbuntu,” a common phrase used by the Celtics to demonstrate their loyalty to one another during a season where they raised the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Flash-forward to this year, 2012, GM Danny Ainge has given the roster another pricy overhaul, and the Celtics are attempting to create more title magic for the upcoming 2012-13 season. Without a doubt, a trip abroad should quickly elicit fond nostalgia for many Boston fans.
Over the course of their journey, Boston played well on the court and also struggled. When they returned home, they were 1-1 in preseason play; however, it was obvious that the primary goal of their journey was team bonding over their win/loss record. Newcomers Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger, Courtney Lee, and Fab Melo will all benefit from this experience as they look to get acclimated into the rotation for the upcoming season, which begins October 30th in Miami. Also worth noting in this “newcomers” equation is Jeff Green, who missed last season and never looked comfortable in his half a season on the court with Boston in 2010-11.
Due to their travel schedule, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Celtics were unable to get many on-court activities accomplished. However, in the two games they played, there were flashes of brilliance from Lee, who looks primed to start alongside Rajon Rondo in the backcourt while Avery Bradley recovers from surgery. What’s nice about Lee is that he has made it clear that he wants to be in Boston. He took less money from other suitors to chase a championship, and is exactly the kind of player that Doc Rivers can count on. He can shoot the three ball (Lee shot 40% from downtown last season) and plays lockdown defense on multiple wing positions. At his finest, Lee will allow Rivers to apply a backcourt pressure along with Rondo. Additionally, with developed chemistry between the two, the Celtics are easily one of the deepest teams at the guard position. So far, Lee has said all the right things.
Another addition making the Celtics one of the deeper teams in the league, at the guard position, is Jason Terry. While it is already known that ‘Jet’ will provide instant offense off the bench (he scored 12 and 11 points in the games overseas), he also will provide flexibility for Rivers off the bench. There are endless lineups that Doc can tinker with, which has to be an exciting proposition following past seasons where he has been thin on bodies. Terry figures to give Boston not only a 6th man, but also a scorer who can play both guard positions.
Speaking of flexibility, Rivers has to like what he sees in his frontcourt. I believe this is where the most important, yet enigmatic, Celtic will make his bones. As a fan, you have to like the opportunity this trip provided Jeff Green. He looked misplaced when traded back in 2010-11 for Kendrick Perkins, and it seemed as though he never identified a role for himself on that Celtics team. Coming off surgery, this trip should give him the opportunity to flourish with the second unit, and perhaps the first unit as the season winds on. He showed that he is ready to be a contributor, scoring in double figures against both Fenerbache and Milano with 16 and 17 points respectively.
While saddled with a loss in their first game, the voyage served its purpose for the Celtics. Rivers got a first hand look at what he has both on and off the court, while the men in green had the ability to bond in a place that was foreign to them. Let’s hope that the comrade forged abroad will bring forth another run at the Larry O’Brien trophy and Banner 18. Next stop, Connecticut to take on the Knicks.