Editors Note: This is likely Fabio's last report from Rome for a while but we at CelticsBlog wish to thank him very much for his detailed and insightful updates on the team this whole week. Don't forget that you can catch Fabio on the Celtics Stuff Live show tonight at 7:00 PM (Sean Grande will also be a guest).
As soon as the game at PalaLottomatica in Rome ended, I was eager to send a full report of the game, analyzing all the breaks and comebacks, when all of a sudden "Doc" Rivers made a statement by leaving all the kids on the floor in crunch time. That's when I realized that the net would have been clogged with reports saying that "in the first quarter the Celtics found out that there's a big difference between talking Big Three and playing like that", or that "as soon the defense clicked, Boston stormed back". That's why I thought that collecting my thoughts on what I saw would have been better appreciated, so here we go.
First thing, the "Triple Threat" (I like this, because, as Ainge said, the "Big Three" became that after collecting some NBA titles) is for real. It is not about the points they scored or the rebounds they grabbed, you could see the Raptors's defense guessing who they should double cover. Yes, the Celtics fell into a scoring draught in the first quarter, but my impression is that they were trying to overdo things, kind of worried about finding room to exploit all those skilled players in the proper way.
Boston was trying to settle down, to find the right spots, and as soon as defense began clicking, Toronto was in shambles. Garnett is terrific. Energetic, imposing: in the first quarter the Raptors tried to drive into the lane, but they soon realized that the area was closed. Only 4 of the 27 points scored by Sam Mitchell's bunch in the stanza were obtained in the paint, and that speaks volumes of Garnett's dominance (even though Bosh is no Tim Duncan, let me add), and when he went for 5 points and 7 rebounds in the third quarter, I was concerned.
Paul Pierce seemed to thrive on Garnett's and Allen's offensive presence especially in the third quarter, when he stuffed 13 points in 11 minutes on 5 for 7 shooting, leaving poor Jason Kapono totally bewildered. Ray Allen showed once more that he is gradually fitting in, although his shooting was - once again - less than memorable. He has all the tools, but apparently needs some more time to get adjusted to the new environment where he is not the main man but a (powerful) weapon in a mighty arsenal.
Kendrick Perkins: he started looking horrible, picking up 3 quick fouls and looking seemingly uncapable of guarding Chris Bosh. Then, after cooling down on the bench, little by little he put his clamps on the boards and was a perfect fit for Kevin Garnett.
Rajon Rondo: such a team oriented play. He missed a lot of layups in traffic, but I loved a couple of midrange jumpers which will be his bread and butter (I hope).
Eddie House: WOW. I know, Calderòn at times abused him, but the man is pure dynamite on offense, and with the "Triple Threat" spacing the floor, he will have plenty of good looks and opportunities to raise his career scoring average.
Posey seems to be "team first". I loved to see him hugging Pierce and Garnett before the tip-off, and telling them sweet nothings which are so good for team chemistry. And when he later took the floor, he was the usual warrior who will clean the dirty laundry while the stars look good.
Tony Allen was a bit tentative, turned the ball over a couple of times, missed a shot, but then, with 10'20" to go in the final quarter drove the lane and slammed down a thrilling left handed jam which sent people crazy. He is still not the old Tony, but you can see he is focused and headed the right way back.
Leon Powe tried to fit in, he probably understands that Pollard's ankle woes will grant him some time and he seems eager to make the best out of it. Still, you can see that he is not yet capable or willing to take the spotlight, he just works in the shadows, most often doing little pretty things (a steal, a rebound) and sometimes making mistakes (an offensive foul).
"Big Baby" showed he got game. Yes, he will be called for his share of charging fouls (yesterday he scored with a strong move which sent Jamario Moon flying), but he has gentle hands, and a beastlike istinct for the defensive rebound. He should shed up some pounds more, IMHO, but, well, that's what Auerbach used to say about all the Celtics, in his heydays.
Dahntay Jones didn't impress me. He missed a couple of shots with 15 feet of room, and he looked tentative. Perhaps he still needs to fit in, because his athletic istinct could be a nice addition.
Gabe Pruitt seemed to be a deer caught in headlights. It was his first official game as a Celtic, and he turned the ball over, shot an airball, called a timeout to save his life. Should the season start tomorrow, he'd be just garbage time material.
Brian Scalabrine didn't impress me too much, but I think we will see him at his best when the W's and L's count and he can play the best actor in a non-leading role.
Brandon Wallace scored a nice basket in the clutch, but he and Jackie Manuel did not play enough to add something relevant to what I had seen during the week.
Esteban Batista dunked pretty well during the warmups, but did not leave the bench the whole game. There are two distinct possibilities: the Celtics have already decided to keep him, with Pollard possibly sidelined indefinitely, or they have already decided to cut him. I would go with option one.
A couple of "color" commentaries: the Celtics sported a green, white and red "BOSTON" on the chest and tri-colored clovers on the back and on the shorts to honor Italy.
Kevin Garnett was called for a technical foul when he converted a missed shot into a thunderous dunk and, according to Dick Bavetta, hung on the hoop too long. Palalottomatica’s fans whistled the call: in Europe that’s the way fans boo.