With Paul Pierce still out due to his Achilles injury The Celtics rolled with Sasha Pavlovic in the starting lineup. If Paul is going to miss the season opener against New York I'd expect to see the same move. Judging from everything Doc has said Marquis is too valuable off the bench to screw up any chemistry that has actually formed, as little as that might be.
The Celtics started off on a strong 6-0 run and looked great on both sides of the court. Pavlovic had two nice defensive plays in a row, one he angled his man of and contested a shot at the basket, on the other he jumped the passing lane and got a fast break dunk. Sasha isn't going to be a great bench player, but if you need a spot starter he could definitely contribute.
Jermaine and Rondo also both looked great. 2 blocks from O'Neal, 2 jumpers from Rajon. I'd hate to jinx it but if J.O. can just stay healthy he really only has to block shots and convert open lay ups.
Brandon Bass was the first man off the bench replacing Kevin Garnett, the substitution was right at about 5:00 in like Doc was suggesting. Immediately after coming in Bass made a nice strong move against Bargnani.
Rondo is looking to be more of a factor compared to preseasons past. If Rajon is willing to not only take the open jump shot, but is also attacking the rim without fear of the dreaded missed free throw, then that puts him in that All-NBA status.
Once the lineup moved to the bench with Dooling, Bradley, Sasha, Bass, and Wilcox the defense suddenly started to show some weakness. After a glaring missed assignment Rivers called an immediate timeout to fix the problem.
At the end of the first the Celtics lead 22-13, Rondo leads all scorers with 10 but J.O. is the player of the game so far; 2 blocks, 2 rebounds, and a nice assist for the veteran big man.
Boston comes out of the break with a lineup of Dooling, Bradley, Daniels, Garnett, and Wilcox. After 20 seconds Doc replacing Chris Wilcox with Greg "The Steam Roller" Stiemsma. The new look unit shows immediate dominance on the defensive end then gets the big Badger an easy turnaround right under the basket.
At the 9:00 mark in the 2nd Avery Bradley is 0-5 shooting but looks great defensively and comfortable in the offense.
Pavlovic and Bass check back in for Daniels and KG at 5:36. Bargnani once again gets by Bass and takes it all the way for a nice reverse dunk over Stiemsma. A couple plays later Rondo leaks out, gets the outlet off the miss, then finds Steimsma who really runs the floor well for 6'11", 260. A 18 foot jumper off a Ray Allen offensive board and the Celtics now have their new "Great White Hope", i can see the t-shirts already.
Boston essentially get's out-hustled for the last few minutes of the quarter. Brandon Bass gets a great steal but once again mishandles the Rondo bounce pass. The big man hits a nice jumper the next possession but once again shows the lack of chemistry between the two young Celtics.
Boston goes into the half up 47-31. Rondo (15pts, 6ast)has shined all night, J.O (2reb, 2blk, 1ast) in the first quarter, Stiemsma (7pts, 2reb)in the 2nd.
The Celtics come out for the 2nd half with the starting five (with Sasha in for Pierce). Jermaine O'Neal continues to hold strong on the back lins of the defense, Rondo continues to dominate whether it's Calderon or Bayless, and overall the Celtics seem to be making a concentrated effort to help each other after mistakes.
At 6:10 The Celtics once again go with the bench, only this time Dooling, Moore (instead of Bradley), Sasha, Bass, and Wilcox. The offense immediately sputters as Brandon Bass falls to the floor and Moore is trapped in the corner... shot clock violation. Teams trade off a couple turnovers and the game stands 52-44. Looks like Doc could have another close ballgame to help judge his young guys.
About 5 minutes of sputtering offense from the bench before The Celtics get into the paint and find Moore open for the three. The 2nd unit is struggling offensive but is still looking good defensively against the Raptor starters.
Moore closes out the quarter running the point and, along with Bass, extends the lead that backups originally had lost. Celtics close the quarter up 67-53. E'Twaun Moore (9pts, 1reb)is the player of the quarter.
The 4th quarter has the first appearance Jajuan Johnson alongside Dooling, Bradley, Moore, and Stiemsma. Triple J opens up with some great defense on Bargnani, Bradley drills a three, then Stiemsma draws the charge. Gilbert Brown checks in for Dooling after the whistle.
At this point The Raptors are trying to take advantage of the rookie Johnson guarding Bargnani. Johnson gets called for a couple fouls but doesn't seem scared to take on the Spanish Dirk. On the third time down Bradley cheats in to help JJJ and gets the steal.
Johnson's struggles continue on the offensive end after he's called for a travel on what could have easily been and And-1. A timeout at 6:44 has Stiemsma and Johnson once against listening to the elder KG.
Michael Sweetney checks in at 5:40 and the game is over.
*Avery Bradley has Tony Allen type defensive potential.
*Greg Stiemsma can play.
*E'Twaun Moore may actually be the steal of the draft.
*Jermaine O'Neal looks like a potentially All-Defensive player IF he can stay on the court.
*Sasha Pavlovic actually can flourish if he has good players around him.
*Rondo to Brandon Bass chemistry, Brandon is still strugging with the lasers.
*Avery Bradley needs to get the shot up quicker once he beats his man, still getting blocked at the rim.
*Johnson's strength needs improvement.
*Despite showing potential on both ends Michael Sweetney is 70 pounds too heavy to help this team.
*Paul Pierce hasn't played at all.
. Jesse Dampolo 12/21/2011 10:11:00 PM Tweet Edit