C's Blow Out Emporio Armani for First Win
MILAN – Rajon Rondo came out of the gates firing tonight against EA7 Emporio Armani, scoring 17 points in the first 10:37 of playing time, but it was the second unit that sparked the Boston Celtics to a 105-75 blowout victory.
Doc Rivers went with a fivesome of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Darko Milicic beginning at the 7:32 mark of the second quarter. At that moment, the Celtics had a marginal two-point lead, at 35-33. It didn’t take long for the group to blow the game open with a 17-2 run over the next 3:45 of playing time.
Green was the man who got it all started. He continued to display the level of aggressiveness that we all saw in Boston’s first preseason game. Green began the run by hitting three consecutive free throws before Bass chipped in a jumper. Green then drilled a 3-pointer from the right sideline to give the Celtics a 43-35 lead.
Lee and Terry got into the mix shortly thereafter, combining for the game’s next seven points. Lee hit two free throws, Terry drained a 3, and then Lee hit a jumper to take Boston’s lead up to 15 points with 4:26 remaining in the first half. The 17-2 run was capped off by a driving layup by Green and a free throw by Milicic.
The C’s led 55-42 at halftime thanks to that performance by the second unit.
“Oh, I’d like to get comfortable with that,” Rivers said of the second-quarter run.
The head coach was elated with Boston’s second unit, and their performance is beginning to convince Rondo that he’s surrounded by more talent than he’s ever been around.
“We have a lot of talented guys – the most talent we’ve had since I’ve been with the Celtics,” Rondo said after the win.
Rivers reverted to the talent that was in his starting lineup when the team returned for the second half. That starting group continued to pile it on Emporio Armani in the third period.
The Italian team, trailing consistently by double-digits, decided to employ a 2-3 zone for nearly all of the second half. If their goal was for the zone to help the team crawl back into the game, it resulted in the very opposite.
The Celtics picked Armani apart for the entire second half. They began to pour it on midway through the third period when all five starters were on the floor. Boston scored 13 straight points during one stretch that put it ahead 77-55. Jason Terry spearheaded the spurt with back-to-back 3s in the span of just 24 seconds.
Boston’s dominant play continued into the fourth quarter when reserves carried the load. Green began yet another 13-0 run, this one to start the fourth period, with a 3-pointer from the corner off of a pass from Rondo. The C’s dissected the 2-3 zone and consistently found open shot after open shot. They made five of their first seven shots in the fourth quarter, including a monstrous slam by Green off of a baseline drive.
While the C’s were clicking on all cylinders, Emporio Armani was struggling mightily at the offensive end of the floor. It did not score a point in the fourth quarter until the 6:10 mark and made just one field goal over the first 9:44 of the frame.
Boston’s defense limited Armani to 75 points in the game and just 44 total points over the course of the final three quarters. In contrast, the C’s managed to score at least 24 points in three of the four frames.
The final product of this end-to-end dominance was a 30-point victory for Boston, its first win of the preseason. The C’s will now be able to head back to the United States on a high note and have film in the vault that shows what they’re capable of when they play up to their potential.
Those are the mental results of this game. From the statistical side of things, Rondo’s 17 points in the first quarter wound up tying Green’s output for the game high in that category. Paul Pierce also contributed 14 points in less than 17 minutes of action, and Terry, Lee and Bass each scored 11 for the C’s. Milicic, who is drawing great praise from his coaches, contributed a team-high nine boards to go along with two points, three assists and four blocked shots.
The Celtics are set to return to the United States on Monday and will resume practice in the following days. Their next preseason game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13 against the New York Knicks.