Celtics Set To Take on Fenerbahce Tonight

ISTANBUL, Turkey – It has finally arrived: game day.

A week’s worth of practices have led up to this very moment, when the 2012-13 Boston Celtics will have their first opportunity to take on an opponent. It’s only a preseason game, and it’s against Turkish professional team Fenerbahce Ulker, but it’s still the team’s first swing at live game action.

Six practices of installation and drills and a Friday morning shootaround have led up to this moment. The Celtics have used all of that time to employ their new players – and there are a lot of them – into the team’s system. That’s not a lot of time, but Doc Rivers believes his guys are ready for a real contest.

“I think they’re pretty prepared,” Rivers told Celtics.com after Friday morning’s shootaround. “Listen, it’s been five days, with a lot of travel, but I think they’re ready to play somebody else.”

With that opportunity finally on the horizon, Rivers will have his first opportunity to truly assess his team. As he has noted over the past couple of days, training camp practices aren’t always the best way to assess players. The reason is because when a play is called out, the other team knows exactly what’s coming. That won’t be the case tonight, because these teams simply do not know each other. This will be a true matchup with an opponent, and that’s exactly what Rivers wants.

“Really just a game experience, that’s always how I look at the first couple games,” he said. “A game is a game, and it’s good for them to play in a game with rules and real officiating.”

However, just because this is a real game experience doesn’t mean it will simulate what the Celtics will look like on Oct. 30 when they open the regular season against the Miami Heat. Rivers has a plan regarding rotations and playing time, and those plans are unlikely to match what we’ll see in the regular season.

“Just the starters and the veterans, I know how many minutes they’re going to play,” said Rivers. “But the young guys, we’ll just throw them out there and see how it goes.”

One of those young guys is Dionte Christmas, who has spent two and a half years playing professional basketball in Turkey. He knows Europe’s style of basketball as well as anyone, and he thinks facing off against a team like Fenerbahce tonight will do nothing but help the Celtics.

“I think it’s going to be good, because we like to run and gun, we’re a little more athletic and versatile,” said Christmas. “Those guys are very team-oriented throughout the whole game. Those guys aren’t as athletic as us, but those guys like to move the ball, set a lot of ball-screens. I think that’s going to be good for us at the defensive end.”

Boston better be prepared at the defensive end, because Fenerbahce has some firepower there. The team’s starting point guard, Bo McCalebb, is regarded as one of the top players in Europe. There are several other strong players on the roster, too. As Kris Joseph explained Friday morning, Christmas has notified his teammates know that they’re in for a fight.

“He made it clear to us that there are some pretty good players overseas, so we can’t really underestimate them because they’re good,” Joseph said. “They play team basketball over here and that’s something we’re going to have to watch out for.”