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Celtics look sharp in beating Raps

10.14.09 at 10:05 pm ET

Earlier this week Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked how many preseason games he’d like to have before the season started. “In a perfect world I’€™d get to five games, maybe six, tops,” he said. “That would be perfect. You do need games to see what other teams do against what you run and also to play in front of a crowd.”

The Celtics put their fifth preseason game in the books Wednesday night with a 106-90 win over the Raptors in Hartford, and aside from a tough shooting night for former UConn homeboy Ray Allen (1-for-7 from the floor) they look more than ready to start the season. It was one of the Celtics’ sharpest games offensively as they shot 46 percent from the floor and had six players score in double figures led by Paul Pierce’s 17 points. (Click here for a recap).

It’s been a very good preseason for the Celtics so far. Consider the two biggest question marks facing the C’s this October: Kevin Garnett’s health and the revamped bench. Both seem like they’ve been answered positively already.

Garnett was again spry, getting up for a couple of lobs and jumping out on the high pick and roll. While the bench, even without the services of Rasheed Wallace (ankle), turned in another solid effort. In the first half the second unit changed the energy level and extended the lead, two things that were in scant supply last season.

A couple of other observations:

Shelden Williams might have some game: The new big man’s job is simple. He has to be ready to play at all times, even if it doesn’t look like he will. If (and that’s a mighty big if) Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Wallace all stay healthy Williams could go weeks without seeing the court once the regular season begins. But if one of them goes down or gets into foul trouble Williams has to be ready to go.

So far this preseason he hasn’t shown much of an offensive game. Indeed, on his first touch Williams looked stiff and predictable working on Chris Bosh in the post and Bosh easily swatted away his shot. But Williams then rolled down the lane and tossed in a nifty little jump hook. He followed that up by hitting a pair of 15-foot baseline jumpers.

If the Celtics wind up looking for offense from Williams then there in trouble, but if he is able to provide something dependable–like that baseline jumper–then he will fill his role nicely.

The rotation starts to come into focus: In the first half Rivers went with Eddie House and Marquis Daniels in the backcourt along with the three frontline starters. In the second half Rivers went with House, Allen, Pierce, Davis and Perkins. In both sets, Pierce brought the ball up and initiated the offense.

It’s no secret that the Celtics want to hide House’s weaknesses as a ballhandler when he’s in the game, and also take advantage of his strength as a 3-point shooter. With Pierce and Daniels they have two forwards who can handle the chore.

Lester Hudson continues to make a case: It happens every preaseason. A rookie plays well in the exhibition games and gets everyone projecting great things about their future. It’s difficult to say what, if any, role Hudson will have with the Celtics this season. In fact, one can make the argument that if he does have a role they might be in some trouble.

But Hudson is showing in spurts that he might have the skills (and toughness) to make it as a reserve guard. Hudson needs to continue having a strong preseason because at 25 years of age he won’t have a lot more chances to show what he’s got, but it’s to his credit that he’s taken the third point guard job by the throat and played fearlessly.

The C’s and Raptors play again this Sunday at 3 p.m.

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