The Boston Celtics put their first exhibition game away early with defense. The regrouping 76ers didn’t know what hit them.
In a game played in Manchester New Hampshire, Boston ran out to a 19-9 first quarter lead, 49-22 at the half, and 70-40 at the end of three quarters. The Green Machine shot 57% to the Sixers 16% at the halfway mark.
All eyes were on the Celtics newest big man, Shaquille O’Neal and he didn’t disappoint. Shaquille O’Neal played his first official game as a Celtic and scored 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting. He also looked active defensively according to Greg Payne of Celticsblog.com
And a new Celtic big man helped in a big way. This big man was Semih Erden, the rookie from Turkey. Yeah, surprised me too.
On a team full of stars, 7′ Erden was active at both ends, scoring 13 points on 3-3 shooting, 7 of 8 from the free throw line and added 5 boards and 2 blocks. But that mostly came after the game was decided.
Doc Rivers on Erden, from Jimmy Toscano of Celticsblog.com….
“Defensively and offensively you can see he’s played the game,” Rivers said of Erden. “He has a really high IQ and he’s been able to pick up our defense pretty well. He had some coverages today that were fantastic. The bumps, getting back out, finding his guy in rotation – that takes a while to get and he has it already.”
Ray Allen looked crisp leading the Celtics with 14 points in 21 minutes, shooting 6 of 9 overall, 2 of 3 from downtown, while grabbing 8 rebounds. A week or so ago, Doc Rivers mentioned that the guards have to rebound more this season and Ray complied. In fact, Ray was the leading rebounder for the team last night.
In this game there were a lot of stars. Rajon Rondo had 7 assists and 3 steals in 21 minutes. Glen Davis added 13 points and lots of energy, grabbing 5 boards and making 3 steals.
Paul Pierce scored 8 points in 19 minutes and didn’t play in the second half. Coach Rivers said Paul was sick.
Kevin Garnett was active defensively, but went 0-4 from the floor and grabbed but 2 rebounds in 15 minutes.
Another surprise performance came from 6’ 8” Stephane Lasme, who is trying to earn a spot on the team. Very active defensively, Lasme score 12 points in 7 minutes and grabbed 4 rebounds.
A recovering Delonte West had 2 points but added 4 rebounds and a block in 22 minutes.
Luke Harangody and Nate Robinson were the brick brothers, combining for 1 for 11 shooting. This was Harangody’s first NBA live action and he most likely was affected by that.
It must be mentioned that Philly was without Elton Brand and team leader Andre Iguodala. New 76er’s Coach Doug Collins said that they needed a day off for rest.
Thaddeus Young Led the Sixers in scoring with 17 points. Drue Holiday, another guard, led Philly in rebounds with 6.
So the Celtics, on a mission to retake the NBA title, led with defense and the rebuilding 76ers were the victims.
The reinvigorated Celtics go to Newark to play the New Jersey Nets tonight at 7:00 pm