4 Things We Learned About the Boston Celtics During First Week of Training Camp
Training camp is the time for coaches to experiment with their lineups and find out what works best for the team.
The Celtics' depth makes that job a little more fun for head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers has seemingly endless possibilities for situational lineups. The acquisition of new players mixed with the increased drive of old Celts creates an entertaining, intense training-camp atmosphere for Boston.
Some new Celtics are transitioning smoothly, while others need to put in extra effort to mesh. However, it's still only the beginning.
With the first week of training camp behind them, the Celtics can move towards molding great individual players into members of an outstanding Celtics team.
Jared Sullinger Is the Real Deal
After his breakout performance in the Summer League, there were questions about whether Jared Sullinger could continue to play at a high level in the fall. The good news is that, so far, Sullinger has brought his A-game to the table.
Sullinger has been playing more minutes than any other Celtic rookie so far. He put in 26 minutes in the first game and a solid 18 for the next. It's evident that head coach Doc Rivers is impressed with the rookie's game and production.
As the No. 21 pick, Sullinger was arguably the biggest steal of the 2012 NBA draft. The rookie is already blending well with the first unit. Even more importantly, he's grabbing rebounds—he racked up 15 boards in the first two exhibition games.
Don't be surprised if Sullinger ends up starting over Brandon Bass sooner than you think.
Courtney Lee Needs Time
Courtney Lee is having trouble adjusting to his new role with the Celtics.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo have been together for years. They have a flawless system and are one of the best cores in the league. Brandon Bass also fit right in when he became the starting power forward.
However, Lee is having a more difficult time as the newest member of the starting five.
Unfortunately for Lee, he committed five personal fouls in the second quarter of the opener, which caused Doc Rivers to start Jason Terry in the second half. Terry was also part of the starting lineup for the next game. The veteran has not replaced Lee as starting shooting guard, but Lee needs to find ways to integrate himself more.
With his teammates' help, Lee should be acclimated by the start of the regular season.
Jeff Green Is a Good Investment
Before training camp, Celtics fans wondered if Jeff Green would be limited when he returned to the basketball court. If training camp is any indication of what's to come, the Celtics don't need to worry.
Green came out strong in his first NBA game in over a year. He embraced his role off the bench and led a lineup of rookies that included Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Dionte Christmas.
Green scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, with most of his points coming in the fourth quarter. He also grabbed eight rebounds.
The Celtics need Green to show consistent production this season. Boston will rely on a solid secondary unit to be successful. As the primary backup for the aging Paul Pierce, it's important for Green to be consistent.
He needs to be more assertive than he was in previous years. His leadership with the rookies was an indication that he grew over the summer. Now that Green is more assertive, he also looks significantly more comfortable with himself on the court. That comfort will bring out the best of Green's game.
Darko Will Have Immediate Impact
Darko Milicic had a big impact in the Celtics' win over Emporio Armani. The veteran made himself extremely useful with two points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three assists. Not only did Milicic dominate on defense, but he also displayed an ability to create for teammates in the high post off pick-and-rolls and screens.
Milicic used his seven-foot frame to give him an advantage in multiple areas, including rebounding. Rebounding was Boston's greatest weakness last season, so this immediate improvement is an encouraging sign.
If Milicic can just find his niche with the Celtics and fill it out to the best of his abilities, the low risk might actually churn out a high reward.
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