Celtics set to kick off preseason with bigger picture in mind

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Celtics set to kick off preseason with bigger picture in mind

ISTANBUL The bonding that the Boston Celtics players spoke so glowingly about wanting to achieve on this overseas trip, is evident.

But based on how chirpy things have been the last couple of practices, it's clear that this group is ready to unload on someone else.

They will get that chance today against Fenerbahce Ulker, the best team in Turkey and one of the best teams throughout all of Europe.

"Right now, we're beating up on each other pretty good," said Boston's Dionte Christmas. "We're ready to see some faces, besides us."

Looking at the Celtics on paper, it's clear that this team has more talent than last year's club - and arguably as much if not more than the 2008 title-winning squad. But talent means little if it's not mixed properly or hasn't had enough time to gel.

That's why preseason games, especially for the Celtics, are so important.

Of course Boston wants to win them all. But what they're playing for is so much bigger than a game in October against a team that they won't ever have to play again.

"We're all about building; building up to something great," said C's guard Courtney Lee. "We've made really good progress already; each of us is getting closer to being on the same page. But we know for us to do what we came to do this year and that's win a championship, we have to just keep getting better."

That cohesiveness that the C's long for only comes about through playing together.

And while practice may feature encouraging signs for potential growth and success in the near future, it is what it is.

Practice.

No more. No less.

But even with great practices, that won't adequately prepare the C's for what they will face today against Fenerbahce which is led by former University of New Orleans star Bo McCalebb. A number of NBA teams have expressed interest in him. CSNNE.com reported earlier this week that the C's made a run at trying to land him this summer but McCalebb was in position to earn significantly more than the Celtics were willing to pay.

"He probably should be on the other side of the waters now," said Boston's Brandon Bass who played against McCalebb in college.

In addition to McCalebb, the Celtics will also have to contend with a sold-out crowd that expects the home team to emerge victorious.

It's the kind of crowd you seldom see in a preseason game.

That doesn't apparently matter to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

While his staff has prepared for today's game, Rivers has maintained for weeks that his focus remains on the season opener at Miami on Oct. 30.

"You want to win all the games you play, preseason or not," said Boston's Chris Wilcox. "But we're trying to win a championship, an NBA championship. You can't win a championship now, not in the preseason. So we just have to keep working, keep getting better and do the little things we need to do to put ourselves in the best situation to win it all."

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

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Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”