W2W4: C's vs. Raptors (Game 1 of 82)
THE STEVENS ERA BEGINS: One of the hallmarks of a Brad Stevens-coached team is preparedness. After a preseason in which the Celtics focused on their own growth, it will be interesting to see how ready Boston is for Toronto (a team it saw twice in the preseason). This is Stevens' first chance to show how his tireless preparation for an opponent can aid his young squad. If there's one certainty tonight, it's that Stevens is ready for this game and the start of his NBA odyssey.
REAL GAMES! The Celtics endured a 2-6 preseason and most pundits expect them to struggle this season. But it's incredibly difficult to gauge much from the preseason. Stevens still has the daunting task of figuring out minutes for his rotation (with virtually no separation occurring this preseason), but key players will be on the floor longer and the Celtics will get a better idea of where they stand entering this transition phase. Who will step up? Who wilts on the big stage? Players will be under more of a microscope in the regular season.
GREEN MEANS GO: Jeff Green, who accepted the target that comes with being the new focal point of the Boston offense, produced an underwhelming preseason. After Boston's final practice of the preseason on Tuesday, he admitted he needs to up his production (and offensive aggression) but promised more consistency in the regular season. Said Green: "Of course I’ll have my ups and downs, but I’ll have more ups than downs. I can guarantee you that." He must prove it on the floor.
ENJOY THE PROCESS: Let's face it, the Celtics are low on the Boston sports totem pole at the moment. The Red Sox are one win away from clinching the World Series; the Patriots are 6-2 at the midway point of the NFL season; the Bruins are off to a fast start; even the Revolution are headed to the postseason. As the Celtics take the difficult first steps in their rebuilding process, things might not always be pretty. But we'll say it again: Enjoy the process. It's fun to watch teams compete for titles (something we've been spoiled by in Boston over the past decade), but watching a young team grow can be just as rewarding. It's going to take time, but the Celtics are confident they will climb that mountain again, with Stevens now at the helm, and hoops fans should savor the progress and try not to judge based solely on the win-loss record.
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