W2W4: C's vs. Nets (Preseason Game 5)
October, 16, 2012
By Greg Payne | ESPNBoston.com
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe new-look Nets invade Boston on Tuesday night for a preseason battle.Fresh off a 32-point beatdown at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, the Celtics return to Boston for their first preseason game at TD Garden and a first glance at the new-look Brooklyn Nets. With All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson joining the likes of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Gerald Wallace, the Nets should emerge as a viable threat to Boston's Atlantic Division dominance. Here's what we'll be watching for on Tuesday night:
* BOUNCE-BACK EFFORT: Sure, it's still the preseason, and head coach Doc Rivers isn't going to overreact to a loss, but he still wasn't pleased with Monday's lackluster effort. The Celtics backed up sloppy play with a pedestrian effort against the 76ers, doing very little to halt Philly once it got rolling. A more competitive mindset needs to be embraced on Tuesday, with Brooklyn making its first appearance. Being on their home floor for the first time should help matters, as should Boston having enough pride to not absorb back-to-back blowout losses, even during exhibition season.
* RONDO VS. WILLIAMS: It won't boast the intensity of the regular season or (potentially) postseason meetings between two of the league's top point guards, but Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams should each be good for a handful of highlights Tuesday night. Both have a history of stepping up when another of the league's top quarterbacks lines up in front of them, so it'll be interesting to see if those mindsets can be tamed with very little on the line on Tuesday. If nothing else, it's a free preview of what could be a blossoming rivalry with both players leading playoff contenders.
* TURNOVERS: Boston's Achilles heel from the last few seasons struck again Monday night, as the Celtics coughed up the ball 21 times (good for 20 Philadelphia points). Too many of Boston's giveaways came on unforced errors and lazy passes, which circles back to the initial effort issue. Some turnovers Rivers will be able to live with, if they come in the flow of Boston trying to do the right things. But when they're nothing more than an ugly blemish, they become far more difficult to forgive. The C's should look to clean up this part of their act on Tuesday.
* ROSTER OPENINGS: As the preseason rolls along at a fairly blistering pace, the pressure continues to mount for the fringe players fighting to secure one of Boston's final roster spots. While Dionte Christmas looks to be leading that charge right now, Jamar Smith is a handful of made jump shots away from re-entering the conversation (nothing will fall for him so far this preseason), and Kris Joseph could still be making progress on the practice floor. But with only half the exhibition schedule remaining, the time is now for these players to put forth their best auditions.