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.
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."