Celtics Hit on Several Subjects After Practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics wrapped up their third practice of the week Friday afternoon and met with the press shortly after. Doc Rivers and his players touched on several different topics while they spoke to the press, so we put together a quick summary of what the team had to say.

Saturday’s Game

The Celtics will play their first preseason game against an NBA opponent, the New York Knicks, tomorrow night. The team is excited to face off against NBA talent and understands that this game will be much different than their first two games over in Europe.

“It’s going to be a lot different,” said Jared Sullinger. “Obviously the Euro style, the 4-man is a shooter, so going against the Knicks you’ve got a couple of bangers down low. So it’s going to be a totally different game.”

Kevin Garnett already knows what to expect out of an NBA opponent seeing as he’s been playing against them for 17 years. However, he still admits that there are positives that can come from these games.

“I don’t know if it’s a better test but there definitely will be things we’re going to see (in the regular season),” Garnett said. “We can familiarize ourselves with some of the sets, some of the styles of play, personnel.”

With all of that being said, Doc Rivers is still viewing this one as an exhibition game – one that is more important to the development of his team than it is about beating the Knicks.

“I don’t think we’ve mentioned the Knicks one time,” said Rivers. “We’ll talk about them a little bit tomorrow since we’re playing them, but I’m more worried about us. If this was a regular season game, obviously we would have went over their sets and all that, but this is preseason so we’re worried about us right now.”

Green and Pierce Could Team on Wing

Rivers is considering throwing out a lineup that has Paul Pierce and Jeff Green handling the shooting guard and small forward positions. Neither player is a natural shooting guard, but Rivers believes such a lineup will give the team mismatches that it can take advantage of at both ends of the floor.

“There’s teams with big guards; that works defensively and offensively,” Rivers said of the lineup. “There’s teams with a small guard but not a great shooting guard; then we can definitely do that because now that gives us an offensive advantage.”

Similarly, Rivers isn’t ignoring the fact that Pierce or Green could be put in a mismatch of their own. Those are the type of matchups that Rivers will attempt to avoid.

“Obviously you wouldn’t want to do it against a Miami with Wade,” the coach said. “One of those guys would have to guard Wade… or a Ray Allen or Reggie Miller-type – you don’t want them chasing guys off of screens. They don’t do that very well.”

There are, however, a lot of things Pierce and Green do very well. That’s why Rivers is essentially guaranteeing that we’ll see the duo handing the 2 and 3 positions together throughout this season.

“It will probably be a lineup we use every night at some point in games just to create our own matchups,” said Rivers.

Sullinger Isn’t Letting Press Get to His Head

Two very solid performances have garnered Sullinger quite a bit of love in the press over the past week. He is tied for the team high in rebounding with 7.5 RPG and has been getting rave reviews from his teammates. Today, Garnett talked up Sullinger’s high basketball IQ and work ethic.

“Sully is very attentive; he’s a very, very hard worker,” said Garnett. “I love his IQ. Everything he’s gaining as far as respect and anything else he’s gained in these couple of weeks, he’s earned.”

And he’s not letting it get to his head. Sullinger continues to say the right things and insists that he has a lot to work on.

“There’s still some things I’ve got to tighten up,” said Sullinger. “All the good things that everybody’s saying about me, it goes in one ear and out the other.”