Sebastian Telfair wouldnt take any verbal shots at his former team, but he's looking forward to matching up against the Blazers.
WALTHAM - Surrounded by a handful of writers, he measured his words, processing questions before giving answers. He doesn't seem to want to make a big deal out of it, but you get the sense that Friday night's game against the Portland Trailblazers is a big deal for Sebastian Telfair.
A Portland writer gave him every opportunity to say that the he had something to prove, but Bassy wouldn't bite.
"They had a decision to make. The had me, who wanted to play an up-tempo game, and they had Zach [Randolph], who is a great player also," Telfair said after practice Thursday. "They made their decision, I've moved on and I'm happy where I'm at. It'll be pretty cool to go up against them. We all know each other, we're friends."
Telfair says he's watched a few of Portland's games this season already, and remarked that he's happy for his friend Travis Outlaw, who's playing well early in the season.
Acquired along with Theo Ratliff in a draft night deal that sent Raef LaFrentz (who isn't traveling with the Blazers - left calf injury), Dan Dickau and the #7 pick to Portland, Telfair is quietly having a nice season himself. Eight games into the year, Telfair is averaging 9.5 PPG and 3.5 APG, while improving his shooting and cutting down on his turnovers. His assists to turnover ratio (2.8) is good for #15 in the NBA, and he had an efficient seven points and six assists in just under 20 minutes in Wednesday's win over the Pacers.
As for adjusting to the Celtics style after playing a slow-down, half-court pace in Portland, Telfair says that Boston's offense is more suited to his talents, and knowing what to do in the floor is simple.
"It's not that difficult, you've got Paul on one side, Wally on the other. Drive the basketball and kick it to them, and the shot will go in," Telfair said.
Doc Rivers said that after two tough games to start the season when he was just trying to 'play safe', Telfair has come on and stepped up his game. While Telfair still has room to grow, his shooting is definitely better than advertised - just under 47% on field goals and 42% on threes -- and he's improving defensively. Rivers felt Wednesday's game was the first '48 minute game by our point guards', and he pointed to Telfair's on-the-ball defense in the backcourt as a key to the victory over Indiana.
Ultimately, Telfair's defense will be the key to his overall improvement and maintaining his role as the starting point guard.
"Each game he's gotten better, but I think he's starting to see that if he doesn't, he wont play," said Rivers. "We have to make the other teams use clock. If we're allowing teams to start their offense with 20 seconds left, that's going to hurt us. Our guards have to pressure the ball. They have to."
Rivers feels that because Telfair and Rondo are undersized, they have to start attacking opposing guards in the backcourt to cut down on the time that they can use their size against them in the half-court set.
Gerald: Green No Longer?
When it comes to his rotation, Rivers has made a few tweaks as of late, the biggest one being that Gerald Green is now getting the call off the bench over Tony Allen, mostly because of two things: Green has a more consistent outside shot, and he's not turning the ball over.
"We're going with Gerald right now. Tony's going to find his way back on the floor eventually. But Gerald's playing well, and Tony just has to keep working on his game," Rivers said. "Tony's turning the ball over, and Gerald is smart enough not to put himself in turnover positions. When he doesn't have a shot right now he's just passing the ball."
In the past, Green's been considered something of a defensive liability on the floor, but he's progressed by leaps and bounds over the offseason and through training camp, giving Rivers the freedom to leave him on the floor for extended minutes.
According to Rivers, Green has a much better grasp on the game plan and his responsibilities within the scheme. In fact, if anything, Rivers thinks Green may not be trusting his instincts enough at times and deferring instead to how plays or schemes are drawn up.
"That will come, so I'm not worried about that," Rivers said.
According to Rivers, Michael Olowokandi is "probably out" for Friday's game with a strained abdominal muscle. After practice, Rivers said that he must have sustained the injury during Wednesday night's game.
Olowokandi, who had four points, four rebounds and a block in 10 minutes against the Pacers, will have an MRI today and is listed as "day-to-day".