Celtics Begin Preparation for Opening Night
WALTHAM, Mass. – Say hello to the regular season. The preseason is a thing of the past.
The Boston Celtics took Saturday and Sunday off to recharge their batteries for the start of the season. They reconvened on Monday at their practice facility to prepare for Wednesday’s season opener in Toronto.
“It’s time to go now,” Courtney Lee said after the practice. “Regular season is starting and now it’s more about getting ready to compete against another opponent.”
Therein lies the biggest difference between the exhibition season and the regular season, other than the fact that the next 82 games actually count toward the standings. Boston’s practices will now include a chunk that is dedicated to the upcoming opponent. Talk of the opposing team was nearly nonexistent during preseason practices.
“Throughout the preseason, practice was more about us and our sets and getting our rotations down,” Lee said. “But today, like I said, we focused on Toronto a lot.”
That focus was geared toward the Raptors’ personnel and schemes. The Raptors are one of the most athletic teams in the league and finished the preseason with a 6-1 record. The Celtics lost to them twice during their exhibition schedule but feel that they will be much better prepared when they take the court Wednesday night.
“I got a chance to learn them a little bit better as we went through the preseason,” Brad Stevens said. “Obviously Toronto, they’re one of the unique teams in that they started their starting lineup if not in all seven games that they played prior to Monday’s ice rink in Milwaukee, then they’ve played those guys the majority. So you at least know – you have an idea of what you’re going up against.”
While the team prepares for the Raptors, intrigue for Opening Night continues to grow. Boston’s players were clearly excited about the fact that they’re about to begin their 82-game journey together.
“You always look forward to the season, a new season,” said Gerald Wallace. “It’s exciting, and a new team, a new organization… it’s going to be exciting. This is what you look forward to.”
And this is what the Celtics have been working so hard for over the past 28 days. They want to take the court on Wednesday night and prove their naysayers wrong while setting a tone for the regular season. Lee explained how the team plans on accomplishing those goals.
“Just block out whatever anyone is saying about us or any expectations and just fight for the men that are in this room with you,” he said. “We come to practice every day, we compete, we go through this and that. We’re not going to go out there and give up just because outside people that aren’t playing in the game are writing us off. We’re putting the work in and we’re going to go out there and fight.”
That’s what the regular season is all about: fighting for meaningful wins. The preseason, with its mundane schedule and devalued games, is in the rearview mirror. Now it’s full speed ahead toward Opening Night and beyond.