Boston Celtics Preseason Game One: Things to Look for against the 76ers
There are a few topics worth discussing going into tonight's game against the 76ers.
Injury Woes Already?
Jermaine O'Neal has been battling a sore hamstring, and has been held out of practice for three straight days. Light shooting after Tuesday's practice is a sign of hope, but Doc Rivers has already ruled O'Neal out of the first two exhibition games.
Amidst O'Neal's extensive injury history, he has never had a hamstring pull:
“It’s kind of strange because I’ve never (pulled) a hamstring before, I just want to get back on the court at some time this week. There’s no substitution (for getting on the court).”
As a new member of the Celtics team, it would be ideal for O'Neal to feel comfortable in the system heading into the season. The Celtics have enough depth to whether the storm, and although hamstring injuries can be nagging, it's an OK time for such a problem in the scheme of things.
Good news from an injury standpoint is that the Celtics have announced that Delonte West will be in action tonight.
West missed practice on Monday due to back spasms, but was back Tuesday and should get some minutes against the 6ers. Even though West is suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season in accordance with the league's conduct policy, having the chance to mesh with the squad in the preseason is a blessing.
Make a Name for Yourself
Celtics fans should not look for starters to see many minutes. Doc Rivers has estimated 8-15 minutes as a likely total.
The best part of the preseason is an opportunity to see what the second team has to offer heading into the season. The games will give the likes of Von Wafer, Luke Harangody, and Semih Erden a shot to prove their abilities in a game situation. Their play may dictate how much playing time (if any) they get during the season.
Wafer is one of the more important cases, still looking to ensure the 15th spot. Training camp invitee Mario West has made a name for himself with his hustle and defensive intensity.
It might be difficult for Erden to find much time during the season with the abundance of more than capable height in Boston, but Rivers has suggested that Erden's role may be greater than expected while Kendrick Perkins recovers from surgery.
Harangody could make himself increasing relevant, particularly during veterans' nights off or in case of injuries (hopefully not).
When Tony Gaffney exited with an offer from Turkey, it looked certain that Wafer was safe, but West is hot on his tail. The choice for the Celtics could involve deciding who is more useful to the Celtics philosophy. A tenacious defensive player off the bench, or one with instant scoring abilities?
Wafer's shot reportedly did not look up to par in training camp, and that has hindered his stock.
The Second Team
Coaches and players alike have boasted about the depth of the second team, and deservedly so.
Marquis Daniels is supposedly exhibiting the kind of play the Celtics acquired him for.
Paul Pierce commented on Daniels to The Boston Globe:
"[Marquis Daniels] has a great IQ on defense. It seems like he’s always in the right spots, he’s always into his man, he has good lift on challenging shots, he has all the tools of a great defender...It’s all about the will, and he’s showing that will this year.’'
Pierce to the Boston Herald:
“Some days you have Nate (Robinson), Delonte (West) and Shaq (O’Neal) who get it going on the second team, then some days you have Marquis (Daniels) and Baby (Glen Davis),” he said. “They really have a good chemistry going. I really love our second team."
“I haven’t seen a second team like this since I've been in the league. I know when I come in I’m going to get better each and every day."
Wednesday's contest should allow for some solid time to see the second unit in action and get fans legitimately excited about the amount of depth the Celtics will benefit from this season.
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