Fast Break: Celtics steamroll Raptors in preseason
|12.21.11 at 10:03 pm ET|
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (17 points, 6 assists) got the preseason Garden party started, Greg Stiemsma (7 points, 5 rebounds) kept it going and E’Twaun Moore (11 points) closed it out in a 81-73 victory against the lowly Raptors finale on Wednesday night.
Heck, C’s fans were even treated to a Michael Sweetney sighting, whose bucket in the waning moments of the fourth quarter brought the house down and signaled closing time on the preseason.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Steamroller: Playing for a roster spot, 6-foot-11, 260-pound Greg Stiemsma turned in what might have been his best performance since leading the Randolph High Rockets to three straight Division 4 Wisconsin state titles. In between, he’s played in renowned basketball hotbeds like South Korea and Sioux Falls, S.D. Wednesday night, Stiemsma totaled all seven of his points in the first half, garnering more applause from the Garden crowd with each bucket. Then again, the Celtics were playing the Raptors … in the preseason.
JO’s D: In limited action, the 33-year-old Jermaine O’Neal let his presence be known. Showing what Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been saying throughout training camp — that his starting center has looked better than ever in green — O’Neal owned the paint on the defensive end, blocking four shots in 11 minutes. Although, O’Neal did leave the game to return to the locker room in the third quarter never to return (with no visible injury).
Rondo’s jumper: Perhaps the most encouraging sign — and the one that could benefit the Celtics the most throughout the season — was not only Rajon Rondo‘s willingness to shoot from the perimeter, drive through the lane looking for his shot and get to the free throw line, but his ability to score in all three aspects of the game. Rondo established himself early and often as the best player on the floor, draining a couple 18-footers, getting to the line six times and totaling 17 points in 22 minutes.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Bench scoring: Keyon Dooling, Brandon Bass and Co. looked active defensively off the bench, but where is the scoring going to come from that group? Stiemsma sure as heck can’t be counted on for seven points a night, and while Bass (12 points) proved capable of dropping double digits for the second unit, is there anyone who can create on his own on a nightly basis? Maybe E’Twaun Moore?
Bradley’s jumper: Avery Bradley continues to demonstrate his potential as a defensive stopper in the league, but his jump shot looked downright Rondoesque (circa . And that’s not a good thing. Bradley started 0-for-5 from the field, and it’s not like he wasn’t getting good looks.
Where’s JaJuan? While Moore earned plenty of playing time in Game 2 of the preseason, fellow Boilermaker JaJuan Johnson didn’t enter the game until the fourth quarter. He also only played seven minutes in the first game against the Raptors. With his roster spot all but secure, perhaps Rivers was just showcasing his other bigs, but don’t be surprised if there’s more to it than that. Not for lack of hustle, but Johnson seemed a bit lost on the defensive end.