Celtics already know what Fenerbahce Ulker's McCalebb can do


Celtics already know what Fenerbahce Ulker's McCalebb can do

ISTANBUL The name Bo McCalebb probably doesn't ring a bell to the average Boston Celtics fan.

He's one of the top players in Europe and the Celtics will see plenty of him Friday night when the C's take on McCalebb's team, Fenerbahce Ulker.

He's certainly a familiar face to the C's who pursued him earlier this summer.

Ultimately the 6-foot-3 point guard signed a three-year deal with Fenerbahce that's worth 2 million per season. When you throw in all the financial perks that come with playing overseas, bringing him in would have been too costly for the Celtics.

Boston will see first-hand on Friday night what they missed out on. But there's at least one Celtics player who is quite familiar with McCalebb's game.

That would be Brandon Bass, who like McCalebb, is a Louisiana native. The two played against each when Bass was at LSU and McCalebb was at the University of New Orleans.

"Nobody could stay in front of him," Bass said. "He's got game. You have to respect him."

In college, McCalebb was indeed a big-time scorer.

In 2007, he was the Sun Belt Conference player of the year and had career averages of 20.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and three assists per game.

Although he put up big numbers offensively, he was known primarily as a slasher who didn't look to score much from the perimeter.

He played in Italy last season for Montepaschi Siena and averaged 17.3 points per game which included him shooting 52.6 percent on 3-pointers.

With his size, speed and a steadily improving jumper, it's not all that surprising that the Celtics were among the NBA teams to express interest in him.

In addition to Boston, the San Antonio Spurs appeared to come as close as any NBA team did to signing him, but San Antonio could not reach a buyout agreement with Montepaschi Siena. Shortly after that fell through, he inked a multi-year deal with Fenerbahce.

"He probably should be on the other side of the waters now," Bass said.

Celtics rookie Dionte Christmas played in Turkey last season, and is well-versed on McCalebb's game.

"He should have been in the NBA, but he's making a lot of money over here," Christmas told CSNNE.com. "These guys are one of the top 3 teams in Europe, so this will be a great test for us."

And for Rajon Rondo who has not been shy about proclaiming himself as the best point guard in the NBA.

"He's the best American point guard over here the last couple of years," Christmas said of McCalebb. "And Rondo, in my opinion, I think is the best point guard in the NBA. His stats show it; his winning percentage shows it. This matchup on Friday is going to be a great test for both guys."

Highlights: Boston Celtics 104, Detroit Pistons 98

Highlights: Boston Celtics 104, Detroit Pistons 98

Highlights from the Boston Celtics 104-98 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Blakely: Victory was far from a beauty, but Celtics don't need to 'win pretty'

Blakely: Victory was far from a beauty, but Celtics don't need to 'win pretty'

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The NBA game is a thing of beauty most nights. But Sunday's game between Boston and Detroit left a lot to be desired. 

Lots of turnovers by both teams, free throws being bricked ... a game that at times was painful to watch. 

And for the Celtics who escaped with a 104-98 win, this might have been the most beautiful game they've played all season.

Teams that rely on the 3-ball as much as Boston does, typically don't do well in the postseason. 

They tend to be more finesse than physical, more marshmallow-soft than mallet-hard.

But there was nothing soft about the way Boston played Detroit, a team that usually tosses them around like a rag doll around the glass. 

Not on Sunday, a night in which Boston won the battle of the boards 52-45.

And it was a slow-drip killing by Boston on the glass against Detroit, finishing each quarter with an overall rebounding advantage which speaks to how they never really allowed the Pistons to gain any significant traction on the boards. 

The Pistons, like they always seem to do, didn’t make things easy for the Celtics.

They blitzed Isaiah Thomas, forcing someone taller than 5-foot-9 on Boston's roster who averages less than 29 points per game, to step up.

There was Jae Crowder delivering a stealth job scoring and on the boards before finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Marcus Smart was effectively crashing the glass with four of his five rebounds being of the offensive variety.

And then there was Jaylen Brown, the only rookie of significance to play in the game. He did more than just score 13 points, but delivered a back-breaking dagger of a 3-ball in front of the Celtics’ bench with 37.3 seconds to play that put the Celtics ahead 98-86.

This was the kind of performance by the Celtics that speaks to a team that’s starting to develop a deeper understanding that they're going to have to do more than just knock down 3's in order to truly be successful, especially on nights like Sunday when they didn't play one of their best games.

There was a stretch in the third quarter that on most nights would have been the demise of this Celtics team.

Leading 67-52 following a 3-pointer by Thomas with 9:06 to play in the quarter, Boston went nearly four minutes without scoring a single point, a span in which the Pistons scored 11 points.

“We started (the third quarter) out bad,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “I think we had six or seven turnovers in a row and things weren’t going our way. But we stayed together, kept fighting and things started turning for us in the end. We made plays down the stretch.”

Withstanding a slew of mistakes while still being able to defend well enough to hold on to a lead, is something the Celtics haven’t done nearly enough of this season.

But when they failed in this area earlier this season, there was always the possibility of addressing this via a trade at the deadline.

But that ship has sailed.

And the Celtics players, whether they want to embrace it or not, have to step up and secure the number two seed or better, in the East.

Doing so means getting the job on nights like Sunday when their best play isn’t present.

Doing so means winning a game with Isaiah Thomas giving you less than 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Doing so has to become more than a goal, but an expectation for Boston.

And Detroit was a great opportunity for them to do just that.

To Boston’s credit, they did just enough to leave the Palace of Auburn Hills for the last time (the team will move to downtown Detroit and play at the Little Caesars Arena next season) with a victory that was hard-earned and by anyone’s definition far from a thing of beauty.

And that folks, is what makes this victory just that … a thing of beauty for a team that has visions of parlaying a strong showing following the All-Star break into a deep playoff run that will surely be one in which they will not always play their best but still must find a path to success.

Smart for one was pleased with the Celtics winning in a not-so-aesthetically pleasing style.

“You don’t want to win pretty,” Smart said. “Especially getting ready for the playoffs and things like that. Games aren’t going to be pretty; there’s going to be some ugly games. The team that’s willing to get down and dirty is the team that’s going to come out of the series.”