10 Things to Watch for on Opening Night
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Opening Night is finally here, the season is underway, and we'll forgive you if you're just jumping on the bandwagon now. That said, you've got some catching up to do.
Thankfully, Celtics.com has put together a primer so you can talk to your friends as if you've been closely following the team all summer. And heck, even if you are a hoop-head, you may have missed some of this stuff. Either way, here's 10 Things You Need to Know about the Celtics to get ready for tonight.
Just sprinkle these nuggets into your watercooler conversation and you'll be deified as the resident Celtics expert.
Kevin Garnett's Passing: Kevin Garnett came as intense and defensively dominant as advertised. But one thing that's surprised his teammates and coaches is his passing, something he's already shown off in the preseason. Whether it's a no-look dish out of the double-team or a one-handed rebound tip pass to a wide open wing player, Garnett sees the floor better than most big men in the league.
Eddie House's Release: House has made his name as a shooter, and part of the reason is that he pulls the trigger so fast that defenders can't bother his shot. At times, it barely looks like he's even caught the ball before he gets his shot off.
Ray Allen's jumper is so pretty, even Steve Javie has to step back and admire it.
Rondo's Ball Fake: Rajon Rondo's just entering his second season, but he already has a signature move that he likes to bust out about once a week. It's a nasty ball fake pivot move in which he stops on a dime while attacking the basket, shows defenders the ball up high with one hand, fakes the shot and steps under for a layup attempt. Works every time.
James Posey's Three-Point Shooting: After every practice at camp, James Posey has been run through extra shooting drills to work on his three-point and outside shot. He goes around the key and then practices catching and shooting on the run.
Ray Allen's picture-perfect jumper: When you think textbook jumpshot, you think Ray Allen. His form is pretty, he barely needs any room to get off his shot, and he connects more often than not. Sure, he'll have a few rough shooting nights like everyone else in the league, but when he heats up he'll shoot the lights out.
Paul Pierce's baseline fade-away: You know Paul is officially on fire when he starts dropping the baseline fader. When he's got his total game working and defenders tighten up, he'll create room for himself by going to the fadeaway, particularly from the left side of the key.
Big Baby's touch around the rim: Deceptively quick for a man his size, Glen Davis has already shown in the preseason that he can finish around the rim. He has some nice moves around the rim, and has shown some nice up-and-under moves. He also does a nice job of carving out space for himself in the paint. He's still got plenty to work on, but when his time comes he could be a bright spot off the Celtics bench.
Tony Allen's mojo: TA is once again on the comeback trail from a knee injury, but he showed an encouraging sign in Rome when he threw down a nasty one-handed dunk in traffic, the first time he'd jammed on anyone since returning to action. He's still getting his timing back, and he's the first to admit that he has good days and bad days, but if he gets the ball in the open court, look out...
Brandon Wallace's Length: Brandon Wallace was the story of summer league, and he managed to earn a spot on the team with hard work and relentless hustle on the defensive end. Wallace is still pretty raw, but he has great potential as a defender thanks to his long arms and shot-blocking acumen.
"Ubuntu!": Team chemistry has been a major theme in training camp, with the Celtics packing up for a European tour and spending plenty of quality time with each other in Rome and London. And the team adopted the African term "Ubuntu" (which roughly translates to "I am because we are") as a rallying cry for team unity. Doc Rivers had his rookies make a presentation to the team about the term before they left for Europe, and the message apparently stuck. The team closes all huddles with the phrase, but more importantly, they've been quick to pick each other up off the floor and the spirit on the bench during preseason has been incredibly enthusiastic during games, whether KG is throwing down a dunk or Brandon Wallace is coming up with a Tommy Point.
Five Stats you should know:
From the desk of Celtics numbers guru Mike Zarren come five stats you need to know heading into this season.
The Celtics had the #1 defense in the league this preseason, holding the opposition to 0.884 points per possession.
Last season, Leon Powe was the 5th best offensive rebounder in the league (min 200 minutes played), measured by percentage of available offensive rebounds captured when he's in the game (16.1%).
Among NBA PGs in 2006-07, Rajon Rondo was second in Rebounds per 48 Minutes, with 7.7, behind only Jason Kidd. (min 500 min played)
Rajon Rondo averaged 7.8 assists per 48 in 2006-07, more than Tony Parker did in his first season in the league (7.1).
Ray Allen is currently second in NBA History in career three-point field goals made, with 1,920.