By Kevin Henkin
Okay, we’re live from Providence to cover the second game of the preseason and, again, we’re pretending that the game is meaningful (see previous article) to add some spice to things. Onto the game summary:
Before the game. Leon Powe is given a microphone and addresses the crowd for about 8 seconds, most of it unintelligible. It’s not exactly the stuff of “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth…” but in Leon’s defense, he was a social welfare rather than a fancypants public speaking major in college.
The Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, the venue of the game, has just recently reopened after extensive renovations. Of note, the huge new scoreboard hangs precariously low over the center of the floor. This might not be much of a factor for the Providence Bruins but for basketball, it doesn’t make much sense (My point is later driven home at the end of the first quarter when one of the Celtics heaves a desperation shot as time runs out and it clangs off the bottom of the scoreboard).
I love the first six minutes of preseason games because they closely approximate regular season games. All the starters are in and, because they know they won’t be seeing too many minutes in the game, they play hard. After that, though, all bets are off. For example, it was fun to watch Tom Thibodeau managing the end of the first pre-season game with a Vince Lombardi face while he had guys like Gabe Pruitt and Tony Allen running the crunch time offense. I’m sorry but, as much as I appreciate the effort by the coach, it’s sort of like taking break dancing lessons before your wedding. In other words, why bother?
Garnett does a touch pass behind the back to a driving Rajon Rondo, which is just about as sweet a move as you’ll ever see on a hardwood floor. KG says “NO, MOTHER&^%$#!!!” to preseason rust.
Apparently Joey Crawford hates Rajon Rondo, considering he sneezes into his whistle every time Rondo makes physical contact with an opposing player. I wonder if Rondo made the grave error of laughing in the presence of Crawford. Bad career move, podna.
Darius Miles in the game at 2:30. Launches 19 foot airball at 1:49. I still like the cut of his jib, though. He positively exudes those “I’ve finally grown up, gotten religion and now just want to win” vibes.
J.R. Giddens is a confirmed headband guy. Not that getting sweaty has been much of an issue for the rookie as of yet.
Alright, I’ll say it. Tony Allen is BACK. The swagger is back. So is the aggression and the fearlessness of throwing his body into the play. It’s acknowledged that Tony Allen is no James Posey but he’ll at least help in filling those big empty Big Game James Posey shoes with a return to pre-injury form.
You honestly had to see this play to believe it: Bill Walker sneaks in for a Brian Scalabrine miss coming off the rim, stuffs it down with thunderous authority, hollers at the nearby Celtics bench and then proceeds to push LeBron James out of his way as he trots back up the court. This kid is about a mile away from a wide eyed doe rookie. It’s hilarious to watch, as long as he keeps playing well.
A rare J.R. Giddens appearance at the 4:37 mark! Because why would you want to use precious preseason minutes to assess your top draft choice? (Yes, I know, because they’re using those minutes to round Tony Allen back into form). Giddens airmails his first shot and looks forlorn on the other end of the court. A couple of plays later, he passes on an open look with the shot clock winding down. I think Giddens needs to borrow some confidence from Bill Walker.
Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown is too far away, so I can’t tell if he’s wearing eye-glass frames that match his jacket and shoes. But I’m sure they do. Somewhere, Red Auerbach snickers.
Glen Davis almost puts Cavaliers point guard Mo Williams in a body cast after he crashes into him running a play on offense but when the whistle blows for a foul, he looks around as innocent as a kitten. Ah yes, gone are the rookie days and their rookie ways. Doc Rivers isn’t impressed, though. His expression is that of a man whose puppy has just messed on the new rug.
This needs to be mentioned. The Celtics bench has been deeply invested during the whole game. It may only be preseason but it seems to me that they are treating each of these contests as a valuable means to an end: As a live-action team building exercise. As a way to build chemistry with the new players. As a way to get better each game by facing real completion, even though these particular games don’t count. It seems obvious to say “Well, duh, that’s how it should be”, but it has not always been that way around here before last year and it certainly isn’t that way everywhere else around the NBA. Exhibit A: The New York Knicks.
Tony Allen sees an opening to shoot a 20 footer and drains it. He now has 19 points. Did I mention Tony Allen is back? Preseason or no, TA has clearly gotten his groove back.
Glen Davis’s evening is over. His line: 6 points, 0 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers and 6 fouls in 16 minutes. His right knee is wrapped in ice. Of note, both of Paul Pierce’s knees are also wrapped in ice after 9 and half minutes of play.
Tony Allen just swished a 3. Not to belabor the point but last season, a swished 3 by Tony Allen was about as common as a sasquatch sighting or a good Dan Shaughnessy column.
Gabe Pruitt just took it end-to-end, weaved through the Cleveland defense and stuffed it down their throats. Nice work by the fourth string PG!
Doc Rivers rides a lineup of Giddens, Scalabrine, O’Bryant, TA and Pruitt throughout most of the fourth, then sends in Walker and Powe for Scalabrine and Giddens, down by one with about 2 minutes to go. Clearly, he’s going for the V without doing something so blatant and unnecessary as using his starters.
Boston pulls it out when Leon Powe corrals a rebound on the defensive end, draws an over the back foul with Cleveland in the penalty and sinks the freebies. Yay! Boston’s backups can beat Cleveland’s backups! The crowd files out in a hurry to catch the rest of the Sox Game 1 of the ALCS. Alas, it appears that the title defense campaign is back on track.