With their opening day matchup with the Miami Heat less than two weeks away the Boston Celtics are rapidly approaching the end of 2012 training camp. Having toured Europe, faced off with two top European squads, and gotten their feet wet with three NBA preseason games, Boston's roster is starting to take shape and fans are starting to get a better feel for what to expect from the C's this year. In this article Celtics101 sums up the latest from Celtics training camp.
Boston is 1-4 on the Preseason, but that Doesn't Tell the Story
The Celtics eased their way into this preseason, with a sloppy loss to Fenerbahce Ulker and an embarrassing route at the hand of the Philadelphia 76ers sandwiched around a win over Emporio Armani and an OT loss to the New York Knicks. However, after Philadelphia wiped the floor with Boston on Monday night, the Celtics got serious. They slimmed their roster down to 16 before their matchup with Brooklyn, shortened their rotation, and had the best of the play for much of the night before their third stringers ultimately gave the game away late. What with the tour of Europe and the arrival of so many new faces the Celtics really hadn't gotten going before Tuesday night, but they kicked into gear against Brooklyn and gave Celtic fans a much better idea of what the team is all about. Boston was waiting for the real Celtics to show up and they did on Tuesday night, producing their first full team effort before their third team stumbled at the finish line.
Roster Taking Shape
Avery Bradley is still out and Chris Wilcox is battling back spasms, but the rest of the Celtics roster is starting to come together. The Celtics entered training camp with Dionte Christmas, Jamar Smith and Chris Joseph all battling for the 15th and final roster spot. Well the Celtics cut Christmas and Smith before their Tuesday night tilt with the Nets, and while some training camp invitees are still hanging on (Mika Downs, Rob Kurz), the release of Christmas and Smith basically seals the deal for Joseph. He will be Boston's 15th man this year. It's hard to see Christmas and Smith go, as both had excellent Summer League performances, but Joseph ultimately had more value. Christmas and Smith's value was in their shooting, but the C's 15th man is not going to shoot much in his brief stints of playing time, and Joseph has the most well rounded game of three. End of the roster players have to find other ways of helping the team than scoring. Joseph has more ability in this area than Smith or Christmas and that is why he made the cut.
New Acquisitions Slowly Finding Their Way
While Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger have been exceptional thus far, fellow Celtic newcomers Jason Terry and Courtney Lee have not had quite so easy a time adjusting to life as a Celtic. Lee has showed a lot of potential, but it has taken him a while to find his feet with Boston's core. Playing alongside Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett can be intimidating, and it certainly seemed to have an effect on Lee early in the preseason as he looked awfully timid, particularly in Boston's loss to Fenerbahce. However Lee has gradually improved, finally getting a three to go down against Brooklyn, and getting more and more aggressive every minute he was on the floor. Lee is slowly getting comfortable and if this trend continues he should be all systems go when October 30th arrives.
Terry meanwhile isn't having any trouble getting comfortable. A guys as confident, if not down right cocky, as the JET probably wouldn't have trouble getting comfortable anywhere. However it is clear, at least in Celtics101's opinion, that the former Sixth Man of Year has not been getting enough shots thus far. Terry has been efficient in the preseason, but he has been a volume scorer throughout his career and needs to get more looks than he has been getting to be at his best. His role in Boston may be slightly different than it was in Dallas. He will have to handle the ball more due to the C's not having a pure backup point guard on the roster, and he may not be the second unit's top option what with Jeff Green playing so well. However the JET's game is built on making shots. He doesn't need quite the amount that he got in Dallas, when he basically was the second unit, but he does need to get more. The guy has made the fourth most threes in NBA history. If he isn't getting looks there isn't much point to having him. Shooters gotta shoot.
Starting Lineup Still Not Set
With Lee gradually finding his feet it seems pretty clear that he will open the season as Boston's starting shooting guard with Terry staying on the bench. However the power forward spot is still very much open to competition. It seemed pretty clear before training camp opened that Brandon Bass would be Boston's starting four, but with the strong play of Sullinger the situation has gotten murky. Bass hasn't had a bad preseason, but he has not been as impressive as many would have liked and has been outperformed by the rookie to this point. He is still the starter in Celtics101's mind, but he hasn't shown the amount of improvement that we would have expected. He has basically been the exact same player that he was last year and every day that Sullinger out plays him makes it harder to maintain that stance. Add in the fact that Bass has been better coming off the bench, the role that Boston initially acquired him for last season, and it is pretty easy to make an argument for Sullinger to start. Bass still has the edge, but it is not as clear now as it was three weeks ago.
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