PRESEASON: CELTICS VS. DETROIT
As Preseason 2003 got underway, there were a number of questions facing
Celtics Coaches, Players, and Fans.
Will the running game take hold? Will Kedrick Brown get out of
Connecticut without another ankle injury? Will the rookies be as
explosive as campers predicted? Will Vin Baker play like the
player of old, or like an old player?
This was the C's first preseason game, while the Detroit Pistons got
their butts whipped by Cleveland last night. Don't let that final
score throw you, Cleveland led by 23 points late in the third.
Sad to say, the Pistons got the win, but the C's answered a lot of the
questions in a positive manner.
The Celtics began the game with their first new player, Mike
James. The C's tried him out at point guard and he did very
The Celtics also unveiled their running game, and it paid quick
dividends with easy baskets. Everyone seemed to be buying into
it, which is the nice way to say, Yes, Antoine and Paul ran too.
In fact, the three point shot was nearly absent in the first half as
the C's pressed the offense early and often. Sad to say, I missed
the middle part of the first quarter as the only serious storm in the
northern half of Florida erupted directly over the dog house.
That caused a break in satellite reception during the minimonsoon.
But the picture came back in time for Vin Baker to take the court, and
show his stuff. Vinnie ran hard, rebounded, and got points.
He had five points BEFORE picking up his first foul. In fact, Vin
was playing so well, only a bruised heel kept him from playing long
enough for double figures, finishing with 8 points and a handful of
Kedrick Brown seems to be over that ankle injury as he might have to
wear a helmet if he jumps any higher.
Walker was working his way inside, and making good passes for easy
Not that the Good Guys didn't have problems. Detroit wreaked
havok with a defensive press. The C's apparently haven't done
much work preparing for that, and Boston made a lot of turnovers off
the defensive pressure at halfcourt. In addition, The Celtics
blew a number of fast break opportunities by missing passes that
haven't been attempted in Boston since Pierce and Walker were in
But the C's were going in for rebounds at both ends, fighting for the
ball and mking the outlet pass on occasion. They did run well
when they ran. Walker even got a fast break pass from James for
an easy two off a made basket by Detroit.
For the Pistons' part, Ben Wallace had his best offensive year since
Moochie Norris had short hair. They were also running, and the Celtics
weren't really stopping them. The C's were making hay on the
offensive end, while Detroit was better overall at both ends.
Darko Millicic was obvious by his absense in the first half.
Oddly, Pierce hit double figures very quietly tonight, and didn't
appear to be a great factor, Walker forced his offense a bit in
the first half, but Kedrick Brown was motoring downcourt like he'd been
bitten on the behind at the other end.
Kendrick Perkins showed flashes of what the C's want him to do in a
year or two, even as Baker was looking more relaxed and focused as he
spent more time on the court. Yes, he is a big, big guy.
Marcus Banks did some real nice work at PG, though I think James will
be the starter for now. Banks does still have lessons to learn,
especially about getting off picks. The team as a whole kept
blowing individual defensive assignments as the Pistons scrambled
around the court.
Waltah played, but was the only player not to score. Frankly, he
was a nonentity in the game. No love from Tommy tonight!
At the end of the first quarter, the Pitsons led it, 26-23.
When the second quarter got underway, the C's kept up the speed.
It was really nice to see a Celtics offense that wasn't moving up the
court slowly enough that FSNE prohibited slo-mo replays. But
Detroit, by this time, had figured out that the C's didn't react well
to pressure defense.
It was really nice to see Vinnie Baker backing people up under the hoop
and he was moving infinitely better than at any time last year.
He seemed to have a much better idea of where to be and what to
do. He dropped a few passes, but frankly, everyone did tonight.
Kedrick Brown was showing he felt better by taking a charge, and
getting right back up.
Rusty LaRue came in and showed a very high arcing shot--same form he
uses at the free throw line. However, he needs to learn when to
pass the ball. He did show a willingness to hit the floor for the
Speaking of free throws, the team as a whole needs to practice
them--Pierce included. He didn't look sharp at the line at all.
The C's kept up the pace throughout the second quarter, and were it not
for the turnovers forced by Detroit pressure, might well have built a
solid lead. The subs in particular looked pretty good.
The C's apparently forsook individual defense in favor of defensive
rebounding, but it hurt them tonight.
Things got a little
when Detroit Coach Larry Brown apparently went out of his way to draw
two quick technical fouls and get ejected. The Pistons didn't
morale boost, as they were ahead and playing pretty well. It made
some entertaining, if quizzical, action.
Banks continued to set up people well, including Vin Baker, who
Things continued apace until halftime, which came with the Pistins
maintaining their lead, 51-47/
At halftime, the teams both were shooting well, at 49% from the field,
and there were a total of 8 three-pointers attempted, four by each
team, none falling. Detroit held a slight edge in free throws,
going 13-16, while the C's were 9-14. The Pistons also
outrebounded Boston 19-16. But Boston had an 11-9 edge in steals,
and the transition points were all Boston, by a whopping 18-4 margin.
If the C's kept this up, they were going to make believers out of those
who felt the Turtle Celtics were here to stay. But there was
still the problem of turnovers under defensive pressure, and the blown
The third quarter, however, started the C's going downhill. At
first, I blamed Antione Walker, as he seemed to be strangling the
running game by forcing his offense, but the whole team slowed down to
a grinding halt. Unless the C's shoot lights out from the arc,
they don't win with a halfcourt game. To their credit, the threes
weren't prevalent, except for a couple of minutes. This was
apparently in response to focus on stopping Detroit's running game,
which had limited success.
Detroit was still harassing the C's on every possession, and without
the fast movement of the first half, Boston looked bad in the face of
Only when the subs came back in for the final quarter did things speed
up again. The entire third quarter and the first half of the fourth was
an offensive waste for Boston. The game ended with Dedtroit
All in all, it wasn't a bad game to be blown out, as it gave us an
extended look at the new guys and Vinnie. But I'd have preferred
to win, too. :>) The C's failed to keep the running
promise of the first half, and paid for it with a lopsided loss.
I liked what the rookies had to show me, and Vinnie looked good.
The next game is on Friday, against the Chicago Bulls at 8:30pm
And that's the view from the doghouse.