After a mildly disappointing loss to Istanbul's Fenerbache Ulker on Friday, October 5, the Boston Celtics concluded their two-game European road trip with a decisive exhibition victory over Milan's Emporio Armani by the score of 105-75 on Sunday, October 7.
Rondo plays strong
Rajon Rondo looked strong and comfortable leading the Celtics to victory. He shot 7-10 from the field netting 17 points, six assists and four rebounds on the night in just 24 minutes of action.
It was refreshing to see the core group make the most of their limited time on the court making way for the others to either prove their value or touch upon areas that need improvement. Rondo, Garnett, and Pierce are on top of their game; all they need is some time on the court to keep fresh.
Rivers tinkers with starting five
Coach Doc Rivers made an interesting move tinkering with the starting lineup adding Jared Sullinger and Jason Terry alongside the "new" "Big Three" of Rondo, Pierce, and Garnett. The rookie Sullinger responded with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes of play while Terry contributed 11 points in 28 minutes on the floor.
Both Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee shined off the bench with Bass picking up 11 points and eight rebounds while Lee contributed 11 points. Other standout bench performers included Jeff Green with 17 points and Darko Milicic with 9 boards on the night.
What is most promising from this experiment is the fact Rivers has a bevy of options to counter whatever opposing lineup the Celtics may face during the season. Basketball is a game of matchups, and Rivers appears to have quite the toolbox to work with.
Celtics show improvement
Boston was rusty and made mistakes on Friday against Fenerbache. Against Armani they made adjustments, reduced the number of turnovers, and dominated both offensively and defensively. They return from this trip having gained some experience they can build on as they continue the preseason. Just two exhibition games in, I already have more confidence in this team than I did last season. I can only hope they keep the momentum for improvement going.
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Paul Rados is an avid Boston Celtics fan and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @PSRados.