10 Things After Europe

1)  Just a few months ago we were mourning our crummy ping pong karma.  We thought we had done everything right:  We'd ardently prayed to the Hoop Gods.  Many Celtic fans had meticulously faked morally sound behavior in hopes of gaining divine favor.  Covering all bases, we even went coldly rational and sacrificed games in order to increase lottery percentages.  By season's end plenty of greenophiles cheered hard for tactical losses and mourned unnecessary wins.

When those fickle little white balls were finally counted, it seemed to have all been for nothing.  The Celtics ended up with the worst possible 5th pick.  Ugh.  Man did that ever hurt.

As the draft approached I was wishing for skinny raw Yi.  Here it is only four months later and I'm sizing up San Antonio for exploitable matchups.  This is beyond amazing.  Not to take away from Danny Ainge's skill, but I think that phony morally-upright scheme we had going really helped a lot.   The Hoop Gods appreciate all heartfelt efforts, even karmic fakery.

It's beseeching time.  Please bow your heads and pray with me now:  "Thank you almighty Hoop Gods.  Every one of us will be unusually good this season.  We will eat our vegetables and turn out the lights when we leave the room.  We promise.  One more thing: omnipotent Ones, if you must use your terrible swift swords, please continue to smite others and not us.  You Guys are the best.  Amen."

2)  On the subject of luck— winners earn their status but every one of them is also fortunate.  Look around the league.  This has been THE summer for bad luck and bad news:  The ref scandal.  The Knicks scandal.  Major injuries in LA, Charlotte, and especially Portland.  The Blazers were soaring on draft day, supercharged by two years of bold moves and even better good fortune.  Now there's nothing but question marks in the great northwest.

The point is, something fundamental seems to have changed.  The Celtics have brought in formidable talent but just as importantly they've gotten their enchanted mojo working again for the first time in many years.  The bad luck is everywhere but here.  Welcome back to the leprechaun!  Where the heck have you been for the past two decades, you feisty little emerald slacker?

3)  The games in Europe have created an unusual preseason schedule:  Two games overseas, then a long break to recuperate.  There's a week in between London and the next contest.  That's followed by five games in seven nights. (Hah!  Nights!  In your face Aristotle!)  
I believe Sean Grande pointed this out on the last CSL podcast: 5 games in 7 nights means this is when the final roster spots will be won.  Pierce, Garnett, and Allen will need rest and the bubble players will get their chance.  Everyone knows there are four bubblers battling for two jobs.  Big Batista will have to look really bad to not make it.  Manuel has practically no shot at staying, so the last spot comes down to Wallace or Jones.  I'm a card carrying Wallace guy but may the best man win.

4) The Celtics played really well in Rome. The team turned over 3/5 of their roster, so it was a group of guys playing together for the first time.  As the players get more accustomed to one another, they will dramatically improve, and that shouldn't take long.  We're not waiting for skill development to see positive change anymore; all that has to happen is veterans getting used to each other.

5)  Media coverage of this preseason has been fantastic.  Newspaper beat reporters are doing a good job while travelling with the team in Europe.  There's extended broadcasts on Comcast on the TV side.  On radio WEEI is on board now that they're airing the games.  On top of all that, there's been groundbreaking blog coverage with great behind the scenes reports from both Fabio Anderle on Celticsblog and Peter Stringer on his own Euroblog.
This buzz is taking place at the same time the local baseball club is favored to win it all, and the local football team appears invincible.  

6)  Do you think this season will see the largest cumulative rise ever in wins for the previous year's three worst teams?  Milwaukee, Memphis, and Boston look good, good, and damn good respectively.  

7)  Conversely in the upper left corner, Sacramento, Seattle and Portland look bad, bad, and damn unlucky (all of a sudden).  Minnesota's going to struggle too, but I don't feel right saying anything negative about the Wolves.

8)  After two preseason games the Udonis Haslem Effect is squarely showing itself in the newly lean and leaping Kendrick Perkins. (The U.H.E.: when a decent player is effective beyond all expectations because the opposition is too busy covering his superstar teammates.)  Perk was wide open time and again.  He shot perfectly against Toronto and had his own mini dunkathon in London as the Wolves interior defense kept leaving him to double Garnett.

9)  As for Mr. Rondo, he led the team in assists for the first two games.  That modest accomplishment wouldn't normally be worth mentioning, but a real passing point has not been seen in Boston for many years.  Get this: The point guard has been leading the team in passing.  The big guys have been leading in rebounding.  And the wings have been leading in scoring.  Why that's just the way it's supposed to be!  
Paul Pierce must be in heaven.  He can concentrate his considerable skills towards what is required for each contest.  He no longer has to lead the team in everything all the time.

10)  Mike Gorman mentioned at the end of the London telecast that he thought Celtics fans could get excited about this club.  I think we're already way there.  We've all done more than enough waiting.  The leprechaun is back.  The Hoop Gods are wearing green again.  All eyes are focused on the Celtics.  

Our time is now.

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