Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls, preseason,  October 10, 2003
The Celtics Beagle hard at work reviewing another game Well, at least it won't count in the final season standings.

Tonight's second preseason game for the Celtics ended up much like last nights, though there were some improvements and some really nice moments.

Tonight, the Celtics made their way to Chicago, where the five people who aren't Cubs fans turned out for the game. 

To a large extent, it bacame apparent that this was a regionally televised practice for the Celtics.  Much as I'd prefer to win, even in preseason, it made sense.  There's not enough real practice time, and other teams have already littered their rosters with pointless preseason injuries.  Pierce and Walker are going to play easy minutes for at least the next few games.

This doesn't mean the C's tanked by any means, and the game was competetive for 2 1/2 quarters.  But there were a number of problems.  First, the offense off the bench.  There isn't any.  Second, this wavering between the stifling man-to man/semi-zone defense of last year vs. the "try actually helping on the boards" defense isn't helping anyone, least of all the guy who gets stuck alone under the hoop fighting five guys for the ball.  Third, the Celtics need to run.  Not just in the first quarter, which they did well, or the second quarter which they did ok.  The whole game.  Didn't happen tonight.  Fourth, free throws, free throws, free throws.  In the name of Linus and Lucy can someone PLEASE explain WHY the C's aren't converting free throws?  Even Pierce, normally a paragon at the line, looked awful.  Fifth, turnovers.  Ack.  Hold on to the ball and pass it properly, please!

Ok, now the GOOD stuff. 

Vin Baker fans, you might get to do some serious "Nyahh, nyahh, nyahh"s this season.  Vin started, was fast, tough, smart and--you're not gonna believe this--at one point, the defense collapsed on Baker and triple teamed him.  Yep, they tripled up the guy who last season could be counted on to commit a foul long before getting a basket or rebound.  Speaking of fouls, Vin's newfound speed has seriously cut down on his fouls.  He's no longer lagging behind the play.  In fact, he was often in the teeth of it.  He still blew a few passes, but he was not alone there.  Consider this: Last year, Vinnie averaged 5.2 ppg over 52 games.  Over the first two preseason games, he's averaging about 7 ppg.  He was scoring points long before fouls, and didn't pick up the third foul until the fourth quarter.  His shooting was a little suspect--most of his points came, amazingly, at the line.  They credited him with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal, but I think they gypped him a little on the rebounds.

Kedrick Brown fans will be pleased to know that he's not only spotting up jumpers that he was terrified to try last season (and hitting them), he went in for a monster two-handed dunk that made the basket yell "ouch!".  He's running nicely and getting his feel for the game back.

Kendrick Perkins is, as Mike Gorman said, "one huge human".  But he was noticably a step slow.  He just isn't keeping up with the MUCH faster tempo of NBA ball.  In fact, all the rooks said they were kind of blindsided by the speed of the game.  But IF he can learn to keep up, he'll be a solid (and I do mean SOLID) player.  Good rebounds negated by turnovers.

Waltah was forcing his offense, and while he had a couple of good assists and such, mostly he was just not into the game.  To Obie's credit, he left Waltah in, giving him extended time to try to get his game together.  Overall, a few players tonight got more time than the last game, like Waltah.

Marcus Banks is fast, but his lack of experience often negated his speed, as what he thought were openings closed up quickly when he predictably tried them.  He ran well, and passed well, but still needs to learn the right time to pass or shoot.  Percentagewise, he was actually better than Mike James!

Walker had a bad night offensively, and that was mostly due to his occasional backsliding to a three point attempt.  When he went inside, he did well.  He also needs to try passing the ball a little more often.  I think he's trying too hard.  He also tends to slow down the offense when he tries to dribble it up.

Pierce did well, working the flow of the offense, and passing out of trouble a few times.   This is the first season Pierce has come into a preseason without tons of summer basketball behind him, and it shows.  He's rested, but rusty.

Mark Blount was there, but only just.

Rusty LaRue played 2 minutes and accomplished nothing.

Tony Battie wasn't any help offensively, but was helpful under the hoop on defense. 

I think some of the bench players might have done better if more shots had gone in.  The C's scored 28 points in the first quarter, and it was near the end of the third before they got another 28.  The Bulls had it going offensively and that's what did the C's in. 

When the C's ran, they moved the ball reasonably well--if raggedly--but the shots didn't go, and some players tried forcing them.  They also missed opportunities at the line.  But once again, the second half saw a marked decline in running.  Even when they moved fast, they failed to pass the ball up, instead dribbling it up.  Chicago can move pretty fast too, and did so.

When the Bulls built up a double digit lead and Pierce and Walker remained on the bench, it became obvious to everyone that Obie was going to get practice time one way or another.  I think it's smart.  Let the vets get used to the pace and put the rookies through their paces.  I noticed a few times that the new guys played smoother on the break than they did with Walker and Pierce. 

I know it's only two games, preseason ones at that, but I liked Kedrick and Baker.  IF they continue to improve, AND the running game is FULLY instituted, the C's will be a monster team.  But there's going to be a LOT of turnovers, no way to avoid it. 

Next game is tomorrow night at 8:00pm against the Pacers.  Hello, Larry!

And that's the view from the doghouse.