No, I am not the grand optimist, but let's forget about how the Boston Celtics lost last night and instead focus on the positives. For me, it was a happy day. There is plenty of good to take away from the day as a whole, including Bill Russell's shining moment, a glimpse into the future, and the emergence of Vitor Faverani.
Bill Russell Immortalized
This news reigns supreme over everything else: Bill Russell finally had his statue unveiled at Boston City Hall Plaza. Russell is a legend, not just as a Celtics player, but also as a human being. The greatest Celtic of all time won 11 titles in 13 seasons, became the first African American NBA coach, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts in the Civil Rights Movement. Watch the video embedded above to see Bill Russell's speech from the statue ceremony, where he discusses the importance of friendship, education, compatibility, and teamwork.
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future
Last night's 63-47 first half lead was a glimpse into the future of the Boston Celtics. The C's chose to fly like an eagle, passing with vision, playing with fearlessness, and defending with tenaciousness; they played with pace, energy, speed, decisiveness, and heart. Games like that are all a part of the long process it takes to become a champion. The first half allowed us to peek behind the curtain and see what this team could eventually become, but it'll take time for it to completely manifest itself.
The Celtics hustled the ball up the court after both makes and misses, creating easy transition opportunities for themselves. The half court offense was moving swiftly, contrary to what we saw in the preseason. And finally, the defense, especially the starting unit, appeared to be one organic part, stifling any attack by the Bucks. Fans shouldn't expect Boston to play like this every night, but take these positive signs in as they fight through the necessary growing pains to reach their full potential. It's only a matter of time. "Tick tock tick, doo doo doo-doo."
I got a fever and the only prescription is more Vitor!
I gotta have more Vitor! "El Hombre Indestructible" had 12 points, 18 rebounds, and 6 blocks in 37 minutes of play. Who does that? Robert Parish was the last Celtic player to do so, dating back to 1980. On the boards, Faverani looked a lot like Tyson Chandler, elevating over his opponent to snatch 6 offensive rebounds. Defensively, Vitor did a good job boxing out and then rebounding the ball at its apex.
The 25-year-old rookie center displayed the offensive savvy of a veteran, showing off a nifty hook shot, as well as the power to finish at the rim with loud dunks. What stuck out to me was his ability to carve out positioning on the low post, which allowed him to draw three fouls. Faverani's flexibility to play both inside and outside will only help the Celtics in the coming seasons.
Most impressive of all was Vitor's defense. According to ESPNBoston, Faverani did more than just block 6 shots. He allowed only .333 points per play and opponents shot just 2-of-11 against him. Interestingly, the greatest concern heading into the year was Faverani's ability to defend. So far, he has surpassed all expectations in that regard.
While it is too early to declare Vitor Faverani as a definite impact player, all arrows are pointing upwards. After only two games, it is becoming clear that is he is quickly developing into a fine player. The key for Vitor is to sustain this success and to continue to progress his skills.