C's Aim to Give Olimpia Milano their Best Shot
MILAN – Boston’s exhibition schedule will open up Tuesday night when the Celtics take on Olimpia Milano at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan.
Make no mistake about it: Boston is not viewing its first opponent as a pushover.
“We went through the scouting report today and they go about eight or nine deep of guys that not only play for the Italian national team, but guys that are big-time players over here,” newcomer David Lee said, rattling off Milano’s top players such as former NBAers Robbie Hummel and Oliver Lafayette. “We’re very aware and we’re not taking anyone lightly.”
Although the C’s dominated Milano three years ago during its previous Global Games trip, winning 105-75, they did so with added motivation. Boston was only two days removed from an alarming 97-91 defeat at the hands of Fenerbahce Ulker during their preseason opener in Istanbul, Turkey.
Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger are the only holdovers from that 2012-13 team, and they vividly recall how it felt to lose to a non-NBA team.
“People were upset,” Bradley remembered. “KG (Kevin Garnett) and those guys were pretty upset.”
Sullinger views that 2012 loss as a learning experience for the rest of his career, one that taught him to never take an opposing team lightly.
“These guys are just as good as us if you look at the tape,” he commented. “Just because they play over here doesn’t mean they’re not good. We respect them and we’re going to come out and play hard like we always do.”
The hope is that such effort will result in a win. Bradley, Sullinger and their teammates are not interested in suffering another embarrassing loss.
“(We’re) really motivated, not only for our fans here, but for our fans in Boston,” Bradley said. “They want to see us improve every single game and get wins while doing that. Every game for us is important and I feel like we need to take every game serious and get a win tomorrow.”
Getting a win isn’t the only goal for the Celtics tomorrow night. The players finally have a chance to play with each other and against another squad, which will be a great opportunity for the team to develop chemistry.
“I think the biggest thing for us is just to get comfortable with one another,” said Sullinger. “Win, lose or draw, it’s all about being comfortable with one another.”
Lee, who will be playing in his first game with the Celtics, elaborated on that sentiment.
“While this doesn’t count toward our record at the end of the year, it matters that we’re going out there and we’re playing the kind of basketball that we’ve been playing in practice,” said the two-time All-Star. “It’s similar to a scrimmage here in practice; it doesn’t count on our record, but you saw how competitive it got out there. It matters to us to go out there and play well and to put the things that we’ve been working on into action.”
To this point, the Celtics haven’t had an opportunity to put anything into action against anyone but themselves. That will all change Tuesday night.
And you better believe that these C’s won’t be overlooking their first opponent.