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MILAN – Try to critique the Boston Celtics after their 124-91 domination of EA7 Emporio Armani Milano Tuesday night.
This was a preseason game against a non-NBA team, so take this with a grain of salt, but the Celtics were fantastic in every area of the game. They made plays on offense, they made plays on defense, and they made plays everywhere in between.
“When we play unselfish basketball like that it’s easy basketball,” said newcomer David Lee, who scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. “I think that that’s going to be a staple and kind of a benchmark for us all season long, is if we can play unselfish and get each other involved, and the game’s gonna be easy for everybody. We did that tonight.”
The Celtics did that so well Tuesday night that they made many in the building – including their opponent – forget that this was their very first game together.
“I’m really surprised,” Milano head coach Jasmin Repeša said of how well Boston played, “and it’s really impressive that they can play this type of basketball just after a few days together.”
As Repeša indicated, it truly looked like the Celtics had been playing together for years. Most impressive was the offense, which flowed with grace. The ball consistently skipped from teammate to teammate until someone got an open look, oftentimes in the paint. Boston tallied 31 assists compared to just 14 turnovers and notched 70 points in the paint.
“I was impressed with the way they moved the ball,” said Milano forward Robbie Hummel, who spent the last two seasons with the Timberwolves. “I think at halftime some of us were saying that it kind of reminded us of the Spurs a little bit.”
Coming from an opponent, that’s music to Boston’s ears. Much like the Spurs’ offense, the Celtics’ system is designed to strike from any position, at any time, from any area of the court.
“The system is wide open and it goes great with the personnel that we have,” Lee commented. “So it’s just a matter of making basketball plays and continuing to be aggressive.”
Boston also played well at the defensive end, limiting Milano to 44.6 percent shooting from the field and 34.6 percent shooting from long distance. The host team needed 83 shots to score its 91 points.
The Celtics did make a few mistakes during this game, as Brad Stevens was quick to point out, but that was to be expected. After all, this was their first opportunity to play in a game together.
If they looked this good during their preseason opener, just imagine the heights they could reach as this season wears on.