C's could use a win to close out their preseason

C's could use a win to close out their preseason
October 23, 2013, 9:00 am
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BOSTON — Tonight's game against the Brooklyn Nets mercifully puts an end to the preseason portion of the Celtics schedule.

It is in essence the final dress rehearsal before the big show - the regular season - begins.

There's no doubt veterans like Kris Humphries are looking forward to moving on to games that literally count.

"This year, it [preseason] really seemed long to me," Humphries told CSNNE.com. "We had like two different sets of back-to-backs ... maybe I'm just not remembering but that seems kind of unusual for the preseason. But it's just about over now, which is good."

The expectation of a deep Celtics playoff run has also gone away this season.

Not since 2007 - the last losing season for the Celtics - have expectations been as low as they are now.

But then came the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who joined forces with Paul Pierce to form a Celtic triumvirate of talent that catapulted Boston from being an NBA pushover into an NBA power immediately, resulting in Banner 18 in 2008.

Ah ... the good old days.

All of those players have since moved on while this current crew of Celtics still has a certain, "Hello My name is ..." feel about them.

Regardless of who is on the roster, the 2013-2014 Celtics Boston aren't all that different than their Green team predecessors.

"We want to play games and start chipping away at this season and see where we're really at," Humphries said. "Sometimes it's hard to gauge where you're at in the preseason. Both teams are usually playing everybody and you don't get a good feel for how we'll finish games."

Indeed, closing out strong has been among the bigger issues Boston has faced in the preseason.

And while tonight's game won't offer any concrete remedies, it will give them yet another trial to see where they stand heading into the season opener at Toronto on Oct. 30.

"We just need to keep focusing on getting better," Humphries said. "That has to be a big thing for us all season, just keep finding ways to get better and finding ways to win some games."

And it is that latter point about winning that makes tonight's game against Brooklyn more than your usual run-of-the-mill preseason tilt.

There has never been and never will be a preseason game that falls under the 'must-win' category.

Still, for the Celtics, a squad that has had their share of problems throughout the preseason against proven stars as well as end-of-the-bench players with potential, a victory tonight would be huge.

Having lost six of its seven preseason games, having been called out for a lack of effort by one of its leaders (Gerald Wallace), a chance to cap off the preseason with a victory at home would go far for Boston in their search for momentum heading into the regular season.

Because as much as the Celtics have talked about all the newness that has engulfed them in the offseason, they have been together long enough to where such excuses fall upon deaf ears now.

"It's too late to blame the whole 'working out kinks' statement we've been making for these past couple of games," said Jeff Green. "At this point, we know what to do. We just have to go out there and play."