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Celtics end preseason on positive note, look towards Tuesday

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Here's to hoping the Celtics starters can pick up on Tuesday against the Heat where they left off tonight against the Nets.

For most of the first half it looked like the C's were bored with the preseason and the Nets. Sound kind of familiar? The last time the Nets came to Boston, they took down the C's 104-96, sparking a "maybe we're just bored of the regular season" theory that lasted throughout the rest of the regular season.

That wasn't the case tonight.

Trailing by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, the C's went on a 34-10 run, the majority of it coming with the starting five on the court. The reserves held the lead as the C's won 107-92

True, the game means nothing. But the fact that a) the starters wanted to come back out and play the second half of a meaningless game, and b) they turned it on and dominated the remainder of the game, is something to take from this game.

"Well, we wanted to play better," Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank said. "We were disappointed with the way we played in the first half. We wanted to get some positive results.

"This isn't so much about winning in the preseason. It is about getting better and it's about our habits. From one through five in that starting lineup they knew that we could do better and we wanted to show that we could. Once we did show that we could do better than it was time to get them out."  

Rotating between the Knicks, 76ers, Raptors, and Nets, it's safe to say that the Celts didn't play the toughest of teams and certainly none that should make much, if any, noise this year come the playoffs.

For that reason, the Celtics cruised through the preseason, going 7-1 as they prepare for the regular season.

"You want to sort of build something going into the season individually and as a team," Paul Pierce said. "It's about getting confidence going. You want to be playing well not just as a team. Trying to figure out some things I am trying to do offensively just to get some confidence to know I can get the job done during the regular season."

While the team is certainly confident in their ability to compete with the best, they're not all there yet, at least as far as Ray Allen is concerned.

"Team-wise we have to put together four quarters," Allen said after scoring all 14 of his points in the third quarter. "We talked about some of our weak points.  Rebounding and we turned the ball over. We have to just rely on each other more than we've been doing just consistently over the last couple of years. Just making the simple pass, the simple play."

New Celtic Shaquille O'Neal finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in just under 24 minutes of playing time. Shaq has fit in nicer with the first unit than most people had originally thought. He's not clogging the lane on the offensive end, but he's certainly making his present felt on both ends in the paint in a positive way. The nagging injuries to Jermaine O'Neal will make the Shaq the starting center on Opening Night. With the preseason over, Shaq is ready for his 19th NBA season.

"The real thing is on Tuesday," O'Neal said. We had a pretty good training camp, pretty good preseason. He guys are getting to know each other, having fun out there, and learning. It's going to be a very, very, exciting season."