Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls,
preseason, October 10, 2003
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
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
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
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
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,
And that's the view from the doghouse.