Celts Gearing up for Final Preseason Games

WALTHAM, Mass. – Only two preseason games remain for the Boston Celtics. You know what that means? It’s time for things to start heating up.

The first three quarters of a team’s preseason schedule are essentially used to get the kinks out and learn a team’s system. Players use their limited time on the court to shake off the rust that they accumulated during the offseason.

Gerald Wallace

Gerald Wallace, entering his 13th season in the league, is excited about the final two games of the preseason.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/National Basketball Association

The final quarter of a team’s preseason is different. These games are essentially dress rehearsals for the regular season.

“Once it gets down to the last one or two preseason games, you know you’re going into regular season minutes now,” veteran forward Gerald Wallace said on Saturday. “So you’re going to be playing pretty much like you’re going to be playing in the regular season, your regular game rotations. You want to build off that and try to get a win, try to get some momentum going into the season.”

This is Wallace’s 13th season in the NBA, so he has a pretty good idea of how this process usually works. His head coach, who is in his first season in the NBA, is at the other end of the spectrum.

Brad Stevens would be the first to admit that he doesn’t know every detail about how the NBA operates. He’s learning on the job. Part of that job is to decide how many minutes each player will receive. Wallace expects to play regular-season minutes, but Stevens is still undecided on whether he’ll use Sunday night’s contest as a dress rehearsal for the regular season.

“I thought a lot about it,” Stevens said. “Not decided.”

It’s almost a guarantee that the Celtics will use this game as some sort of rehearsal. It may not be a dress rehearsal, as in a true indication of what the lineup and rotations will look like on October 30, but it should be close.

Wallace, for one, is excited about that notion. He indicated that these final exhibition games are the most important ones of the preseason.

“Guys start to begin to want to get their legs for games,” Wallace said. “They want to get in shape, get their rotation down, how they’re going to play. (They want) the imitation of what they’re doing and try to be able to win on a game-to-game [basis].”

This is the time for the Celtics to iron out their final wrinkles, even if their opponent doesn’t approach the game with a similar intensity. Such will be the case Sunday night in Montreal when Boston takes on Minnesota.

Thanks to Boston’s cramped preseason, which featured six games in nine days, the C’s are far ahead of most teams when it comes to their schedule. The Timberwolves still have four preseason games remaining to the Celtics’ two. Knowing such, Avery Bradley acknowledged that Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Co. probably won’t be as geared up for this game as Boston is.

“Some teams might not play their players as many minutes but we’re worried about us right now,” Bradley said. “We’re going to go out there and fight and play as hard as we can.”

That’s what these final two rehearsals are all about. Leave it all on the floor, just like you’ll do on Opening Night.