Firstly, I want to voice my positive sentiments about Doc Rivers and his successful/non-threatening surgery. It was sudden but fantastic news knowing that the season would start without any concern over the beloved Celtics coach, and we could move onto the less important stuff.
As for the preseason, Lawrence Frank put it best:
"This isn't so much about winning in the preseason. It is about getting better and it's about our habits."
A 7-1 preseason means very little in the great scheme of things. The Cavaliers are 5-2 in the preseason and unfortunately for their already somber fans, that doesn't mean much.
We are now less than a week away from the Celtics regular season opener against the Heat, and the most important subjects leading up to the game will likely be overshadowed by the circus arriving at the Garden.
Jermaine O'Neal's condition is the greatest difficulty to greet the Celtics thus far.
O'Neal's back and hand have been causing him discomfort, and ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg reported Rivers opinion on the subject:
"He didn't do anything today," Rivers added. "That's rest; that's injury. It's disappointing, to be honest. He has not had the preseason that we would have liked him to have had. Sometimes you just can't avoid it."
It's already evident that O'Neal has not put in the kind of time the Celtics would have hoped for, but it is at least nice to be worry free in regards to the other O'Neal.
Shaq almost went for a double-double in a 107-92 win against the Nets Wednesday, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds. He is looking well conditioned in comparison to his time with the Cavaliers, which is cementing him as the starting center heading into Tuesday.
Avery Bradley's sore ankle has put him on the bench indefinitely. Bradley is in no way a vital part of the Celtics game plan, and setting aside time for rehabilitation is the wisest course of action. Pushing down on nagging injuries is no way to start a career.
In positive news, Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson (sore shoulders) along with Glen Davis (sore knee) all played 20+ minutes against the Nets and should be just fine for the opener.
Delonte West will be forced to rest his left glute injury while he will miss the first 10 games of the regular season following his conduct suspension. The preseason time was supposed to be a bonus for Delonte to mesh with the team. Still, his chemistry with Nate Robinson has been more than apparent, even in limited time.
The Final Roster Spot
Well, it's finally over.
The final spot was a key element of the preseason, and Von Wafer is officially a member of the Celtics final fifteen over Stephane Lasme.
Wafer went from shoe-in to question mark as training camp/preseason wore on, and he finally received his confirmation Wednesday.
Wafer's last two performances undoubtedly helped: a three 3-point performance on 4-of-6 shooting led to 14 points, three boards, two assists and a steal against the Raptors Friday, along with a "3-6" performance against the Nets.
Wafer played 12 minutes Wednesday, while Lasme only logged three. Still, several sources had already reported the Celtics likelihood to go with Wafer.
Although many argued for Lasme's height (and their UMASS bias), Wafer has more upside with a greater probability of receiving some minutes. He looked soft and unsure of himself early on but seemed to grow more comfortable while becoming reacquainted with NBA play.
The Top Five
The more-than-suspected starting five for Tuesday played 23+ minutes against the Nets. The only player not to post double figures was Rajon Rondo with eight (while totaling 12 assists and three steals).
The Celtics staff clearly wanted to ensure that the five exhibited some chemistry heading into the opener, and they were featured in the majority of Boston's 34-10 run in the second half.
The regular season is a different monster in terms of energy output, and there is no need to suspect that the Celtics will lack one bit of intensity.