WALTHAM, Mass. – There was a familiar sound of inaudible yelling and sneakers squeaking up and down the polished wooden floor.
The Boston Celtics were back in town doing what they always do at their practice facility – preparing for the next opportunity to grow.
Boston returns after more than a week overseas in Milan, Italy and Madrid, Spain.
They played one game in each city, winning both by an average of 24 points.
Even with a pair of blowouts under their belts, the victories have done nothing to inflate this team’s ego into believing they have arrived.
“We have a lot of cleaning up to do,” said Stevens. “You could go through every possession and find something. The score doesn’t mean a lot. The one thing we didn’t do is get a chance to do is work on any late-game situations against someone else. But as far as technical things we can improve on offensively and defensively, literally every possession. We still have to get a lot better.”
Indeed, success at this time of year can’t be measured in wins and losses.
Wins this time of year center more around the tangible growth and consistency that players display.
Avery Bradley was the team’s second-leading scorer in Europe with a 15.5 points per game average. More impressive was the way in which Bradley got to the spots he needed to, in order to be an effective point producer. One of the better corner 3-point shooters in the NBA, Bradley connected on 7-of-8 3s in the two games. And most of his scoring came with few, if any, dribbles taken which has been proven statistically to be when Bradley is at his best offensively.
Jae Crowder, who will play the wing position as well as some power forward, made a conscious effort to get to the free throw line more often.
Last season with the Celtics, he averaged 2.3 free throw attempts per game which was a career-high. In the two preseason games, he went to the line a team-best 5.5 times per game.
Both players, as well as their teammates, will look to build upon the success they had overseas while shoring up other aspects of their respective games as they prepare for their first preseason game against an NBA team – the Brooklyn Nets – later this week.
“The competition gets a little bigger now,” Stevens said. “Obviously a little deeper from an athleticism standpoint. We’ll see where we stand after these couple of days.”