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Peter Stringer and Marc D'Amico "post" the latest from practice and pre-game media sessions in Celtics.com's Post Ups notebook. Bookmark this page and come back for updates from the Garden and Waltham. You can send them .
Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author exclusively and do not necessarily represent those of the Boston Celtics.
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Saturday, November 9 - Celtics at Heat
Pregame - Stevens Discusses Preparing for LeBron
Brad Stevens has had a lot of firsts over the past few months. This one has to be the most unpleasant one yet.
Stevens has spent the past 24 hours preparing for the game’s greatest player, LeBron James. James is coming off of his second consecutive MVP and Finals MVP season. The C’s will do their best to contain him, but accomplishing that goal is quite the feat.
I asked Stevens before tonight’s game what it has been like preparing for James for the first time in his coaching career. His answer said it all.
“Unenjoyable... might be the right word?” Stevens said after struggling to come up with the most appropriate term. “He’s the best player on the planet right now, and at the end of the day that makes it really hard to guard. He’s a great combination of skill and strength and speed, and then on top of that he’s got to be in the top few players in the world in savvy. He’s really a special player.”
James would be difficult to defend in any setting, but when he’s on the floor with this Heat team that challenge becomes even greater. As Stevens mentioned, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has created the perfect offense for James and his teammates.
“The other thing that sometimes goes without being said is how good their system is for all of those guys,” Stevens said. “[Speolstra’s] really done a great job of coaching that team and putting them in position to just take advantage of their strengths and play basketball, but also a really organized setup for what would usually be an undersized team in the league to be an absolute nightmare to guard.”
That nightmare will become a reality tonight for Stevens and the Celtics. However, they might have a weapon to make that nightmare a bit less frightening.
Brandon Bass has been very successful in defending James in the past. He hasn’t shut James down, but he has made life very difficult on the four-time MVP. Stevens let it be known that Bass will be tasked with defending James yet again tonight.
“Obviously [Bass is] a guy that’s going to see some time on LeBron, as are other people,” said Stevens. “I think Brandon Bass is a versatile defender and I think that makes our team better.”
The question is, does he make the Celtics good enough to take down the defending champs? If the answer is yes, that would make Stevens’ first matchup with James quite memorable.
Friday, November 8 - Celtics at Magic
Pregame - Stevens Says Pressey Can Learn from Nelson
There is always a ripple down effect when a lineup change occurs for an NBA team. In Boston’s instance, Jordan Crawford’s insertion into the starting lineup doesn’t only affect him, it also touches the rest of the starters and trickles down to the bench.
One of the players who’s affected the most is rookie point guard Phil Pressey. Pressey hadn’t played in Boston’s first four games of the season. When Brad Stevens shook up the lineup on Wednesday with Crawford as the starting point guard, it meant that Pressey was in line for his first regular season appearance as a pro.
Pressey is now the point guard for the second unit. He played 17 minutes Wednesday night and finished with two points, three assists, one steal and no turnovers. He played well, and Stevens now has confidence in both Pressey and that new second unit.
Confidence, however, won’t make Pressey any taller. The point guard went undrafted out of Missouri for a reason, which is his height. Pressey stands at just 5-foot-11.
He has managed to make it this far by figuring out a way to overcome that disadvantage at every level. Stevens believes that Pressey can continue to figure out ways to be successful at the NBA level.
“Obviously, he’s going to run into some matchups that are tough for him, simply because of size,” Stevens said before tonight’s game in Orlando. “But he has to use size to his advantage. We always talked about that when I was at Butler, was just using your leverage to your advantage if you’re a smaller guy. So he’s going to have to do that, because he’s going to play.”
Ironically, someone who will be on the other sideline tonight is a perfect example for Pressey to look up to. Nelson came into the league in 2004 at a 6-foot point guard out of Saint Joseph’s. That height hasn’t deterred him one bit, as he has made an All-Star team and been a consistent performer for the past decade.
“I like Jameer Nelson, and I have since college,” said Stevens. “He’s always struck me as a winner. He’s always struck me as a competitive guy. To play in this league and be as effective in this league at that size as he is, it tells you, No. 1, he’s really quick and really fast, and No. 2 is he has a great mindset and some great stuff about him.”
Stevens continued that statement by comparing Nelson and Pressey.
“Phil does too,” he said. “Phil is much younger in this process, and Jameer may have been even a little bit more ready from a body and physical standpoint when he came in the league, but he can certainly learn from him.”
Pressey will get a first-hand opportunity to watch and learn from Nelson tonight. Maybe even in a one-on-one setting.
- Marc D'Amico
Wednesday, October 30 - Celtics at Raptors
Pregame - Stevens Tossed Faverani into Starting Lineup
Brad Stevens finally announced his starting lineup for Boston’s season opener tonight. It’s not the one that started the final game of the Celtics’ preseason, but it’s pretty darn close.
Stevens is calling on Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass and rookie Vitor Faverani to start tonight’s game. Bass is the only change from the final preseason game, as he replaces Kelly Olynyk at power forward.
The story of this group, however, is Faverani, who will be starting in his NBA debut. Stevens chose Faverani after his phenomenal exhibition performance against Brooklyn on October 23 that included 15 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots.
“I think we need some size and length, whether it be Vitor or Kelly, in our starting lineup,” Stevens said before tonight’s game. “I think that showed itself in a few of those exhibition games at the start of those games. It’s throwing a young guy out there in an NBA opener on the floor right out of the game, but like we talked about this morning, he’s been a pro for a long time and he’s experienced some great environments. So better soon than never.”
In his first NBA game, Faverani will be faced with a difficult task. He’ll need to keep up with Jonas Valanciunas, who has shown vast improvement during his young career.
“I think Valanciunas is a very, very good second year pro,” Stevens said. “He looks like he’s very much trending upward.”
But it’s not like Valanciunas is in a totally different class than Faverani. Stevens likes what he’s seen out of his big man, too.
“I think V is a good player, and we’ll see whether or not (he can contain Valanciunas),” commented Stevens.
On top of being a good player, Faverani is also an experienced player despite the fact that he’s an NBA rookie.
“I think the most important part is he’s been through a lot,” the coach said of his starting center. “He has been a pro. He’s played in great environments, like I said, but he also understands how pros operate, how they take care of their bodies, what the season’s like. Even though he hasn’t been through an NBA season, he’s been through quite a bit.”
Tonight, however, will be different. Faverani is starting for the Boston Celtics in their season opener against some of the most talented players in the world. Add this storyline to the intrigue of Opening Night.
- Marc D'Amico
Wednesday, October 30 - 2013-14 Season Begins
Celtics Tip Off Season in Toronto
The Celtics will tip off their 2013-14 regular season campaign against the Toronto Raptors on October 30. Stay tuned to the Ford Post Ups Notebook for game night updates throughout the season.