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Progress as usual for Celtics

10.11.09 at 5:16 pm ET
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Before dissecting the Celtics‘ 100-93 win over the Nets at the TD Garden Sunday afternoon (recap here), let’s get the preseason disclaimers out of the way:

Devin Harris didn’t play for the Nets.

Ray Allen played 15 minutes in the first half and got up exactly one shot.

The Celtics first unit ran the same play, and only that play, during the entire first quarter when they were operating in the half court.

In other words, it’s dangerous to read too much into any preseason game, let alone one that featured 35 turnovers and 56 personal fouls, but for the purposes of discussion, there were several bright spots for the Celtics on Sunday. Of note:

Kevin Garnett’s comeback continues: Garnett logged 21 minutes and scored 12 points to go with six rebounds. He was also moving up and down the floor with a noticeably easier gait.

“Sprint,” Garnett said when asked what he was most encouraged by. “I thought today I got up and down. I tried to put pressure on their defense, get in the middle, call for the ball. As far as being aggressive this is probably the most aggressive I’ve been since I’ve come back and played. Reaction time was a lot better, a lot faster.”

Garnett was also back to old feisty self as he got mixed up with New Jersey’s Yi Jianlian during the first quarter.

“Wasn’t nothing,” Garnett said. “He don’t know me, I don’t know him.”

Good day for the captain: Garnett shot 6-of-8 from the floor but he wasn’t the Celtics’ most effective scorer. That was Paul Pierce, who scored an almost effortless 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting, operating mostly against New Jersey rookie Terrence Williams. But once again the most encouraging sign for the Celtics beyond their general health was the play of the second unit.

“To tell you the truth I thought our second unit was a lot more impressive than we were,” Pierce said. “They were the ones that pushed the lead out and they’re looking like they’re jelling well together. We are still coming along as a unit, but that’s the process of preseason.”

The rotation begins to take shape: Much has been made about the versatility of the C’s second unit thanks to veteran additions Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels, but as good as they’ve been, the team will begin to integrate the starters with the reserves into forming a cohesive rotation.

From the beginning of the preseason Doc Rivers has brought Wallace in first off the bench to get him time with the starters, but beyond that look for a few more combinations to begin taking shape.

“The one group we haven’t had — Rasheed, Kevin, Eddie [House], Paul and Ray — that’s a group that you’d like to have on the floor,” Rivers said. “You have to be careful with the point guard. The three teams that we’ve played all pressure all the point. That’s dangerous for us.”

Rivers has a bunch of options at his disposal, and depending on matchups, foul trouble or injuries, he can mix and match as the season progresses. Finding ways to utilize House (who scored 13 points) always will be a top priority.

As the preseason games begin to pile up, Rivers said he’ll give veterans Pierce, Garnett, Wallace and Allen time to take some games off. The Celtics have two back-to-backs coming up, with the first set coming this week when they play at New York Tuesday and then the Raptors in Hartford Wednesday. They have another back-to-back set next week as well, which seems like a good time to work out some rotation kinks.

Health update: Everyone played, with the exception of Tony Allen, who is working his way back from an ankle injury. “There’s going to be good days and bad days [for Allen],” Rivers said before the game. “We’re not going to know until he gets on the floor.”

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