The Celtics are in Philadelphia tonight for their second real preseason game (now there's an oxymoron) of the year, while everyone back home readjusts to the preseason's overwhelming irrelevance.
It's been a while since we were here. Two years, to be exact. Thanks to last year's lockout, the 2011 preseason lasted all of two games both of which came against the Raptors and served very little purpose. But on the bright side, at least it was brief. It was over as soon as it began. This year, we're back to the norm two weeks of meaningless games! Where little is gained by the players, less is learned by the fans, and to make matters worse, we all scramble to convince ourselves otherwise. As if anything we see tonight will alter the game plan for this season. As if Kris Joseph or Dionte Christmas might catch fire and keep Doc up at night, figuring out a way to work them into his rotation. That might be the case on some teams, but it's nothing that concerns these Celtics.
Rondo, Lee, Terry, Pierce, Bass, Green, Sullinger, Milicic, Wilcox, Garnett, Collins.
That's the team. Whether the season starts on the 30th or tomorrow, you already know the contributors and how they'll be utilized. Anything we don't know is far more likely to be worked out behind the scenes in practice as opposed to in exhibitions against a string of division rivals.
Kevin Garnett will sit tonight, and you know this won't be his last preseason DNP. You know he'll be joined on the sidelines by Pierce and Rondo on more than a few occasions. That's because the positives to be gained in the preseason are far outweighed by the potential negatives a.k.a. injuries. We watch these games hoping no one gets hurts, fearing that someone will get hurt, and that's no way to watch basketball.
But that's the preseason. And believe it or not, it's just getting started. On one hand, it's seems crazy to complain. Would we rather go back to last year's mess, when we spent October hating everything the league stood for and wondering if there might be basketball at all? Of course not. A longer pre-season is a small price to pay for the ability to eliminate "lockout" from our daily vocabulary.
But there's no question that the best part of tonight's game in Philly is that once it's over, there will one less game standing between the Celtics and the real thing.