Pregame: Faverani in starting lineup
The Celtics found success with the Wallace-Green combo late in the preseason and, with a desire to add size to the floor, were going to lean on a rookie big. If Jared Sullinger, who is serving a team-issued one-game suspension, had been available, Stevens suggested he might have put Kelly Olynyk in the starting group but expressed some reservations based on Olynyk's inexperience.
Faverani shined in his only preseason start during Boston's exhibition finale last week, swatting six shots in a blockfest, but Stevens said it wasn't just that game that helped elevate him to an opening-night start.
"It has been a lot less about that start and a lot more about what he’s done consistently throughout the course of the preseason, regardless of when his opportunities have been," Stevens said. "He’s played pretty well, he’s played pretty consistently well.
"I think we need some size and length, whether it be Vitor or Kelly, in our starting lineup. I think that showed itself in a few of those exhibition games -- at the start of those games. Again, [Faverani has] been a pro for a long time, he’s experienced some great environments -- better soon than never."
For his part, Faverani marveled at being a starter in his NBA debut.
"I never imagined it. Never," he said. "In training camp, before when I was playing in Spain. I can’t believe it now."
The Celtics struggled with Toronto's size in two preseason meetings, particularly against second-year center Jonas Valanciunas, and Stevens hopes Faverani can strengthen the back line. He'll also help against dribble penetration from Toronto's talented backcourt.
"I think you saw in our last game, [Faverani] was one of our better defenders, period," Stevens said. "He has ability to protect the rim some, which if you remember the first time we played Toronto was an issue, and we were a little bit better last time, but not much at the start of the game. Hopefully a guy like that can make up for a few of your mistakes on the perimeter. And then, I think we have to be better going inside throughout the course of the year and he can score on the blocks as well."
A couple of other pregame quick hits:
* NEVER NERVOUS STEVENS: Poor Stevens has been peppered with questions throughout the preseason about his emotions leading up to his first NBA game. Much like his demeanor on the sideline, he insists he's calm and apologizes for being impassive. "I’m sorry. It’s probably not as interesting as you want it to be," Stevens said. "I'm just ready to go. Eight exhibition games is a lot of dress rehearsals, especially over the course of 23 days. I’m anxious to see how we play. My biggest thing at this time of year, no matter who you’re coaching, is you want your team to play hard and play to its best. Then you can make tweaks and adjustments after that. I’m more anxious to see how we play than necessarily about being out there."
* OLYNYK THE C'S MINUTE LEADER?: A Toronto native, Olynyk has been a popular topic up here. Asked about what Olynyk can bring to this year's squad, Stevens noted, "Well, unless there’s unusual circumstances, he’s going to play a lot of minutes and he may lead us in minutes. He’s a guy that can do a number of different things. ... Kelly’s certainly done a good job and will get ample opportunity."
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