Boston Celtics

Knicks edge Celtics in OT, 98-95

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Knicks edge Celtics in OT, 98-95

HARTFORD -- The Boston Celtics traveled to Connecticut to play their third preseason game on Saturday. In spite of having two under their belts, it was their first match up against another NBA team after playing against European squads during their recent trip overseas.

Following a loss to Fenerbahce Ulker (Instanbul) and a win against Emporio Armani Milano (Italy), the Celtics fell to the New York Knicks in overtime, 98-95, in their return to the United States. Regardless of the end result, it beneficial for them to get back to NBA action.

"Obviously the Knicks are better than both the teams we played," said Rajon Rondo. "They have All-Stars and great players, so it was good to get out there and compete with a team you know you're going to go against at least six or seven times throughout the season."

For some players, this game was just another preseason match against their Atlantic Division foes, a team the Celtics frequently play each season.

"It's basketball," said veteran Brandon Bass. "It's the same."

But for the rookies on the team, the Knicks were the first NBA faces they saw in their careers. The difference between players in this league and overseas was noticeable for them.

"I got to play a little bit and I kind of got a little nervous in the game," said Fab Melo. "I think the pace is a little slower but the explosion is really fast. And they make shots, they cut, they drive all the time, so you've got to be alert all day."

The Celtics will play their next preseason game on Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers. The following night, they will hit the parquet for their preseason opener at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets.

30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

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30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Memphis Grizzlies. 

Memphis is no different than any other NBA team when it comes to making changes.
 
It’s an inevitable part of the NBA.

 
There are changes, and then there’s losing Zach Randolph and Tony Allen to free agency.
 
They didn’t lose the face of their franchise.
 
They lost its backbone.
 
And when you throw in the departure of Vince Carter, the Grizzlies are getting younger and more athletic and maybe just as significant, further removed from the physical, rough-and-tough brand of basketball they played for years.

You’ll have to go to YouTube to see Grit-and-Grind anymore.
 
Still, this isn’t all that surprising when you consider they brought in a new coach last year, David Fizdale, who came from Miami but also spent time on the bench as an assistant in Atlanta and Golden State.

Those teams played a more position-less, free-flowing brand of basketball compared to the Grizzlies.
 
So what we’re starting to see now is a Memphis team that will eventually look and hopefully play, more akin to what their coach envisions.
 
While the DNA of this team has changed dramatically, the Grizzlies will still be among the teams battling for one of the last playoff spots in the West this season.
 
They return Marc Gasol who still ranks among the best centers in the NBA. They also have point guard Mike Conley Jr., who unfortunately still holds the title for the best veteran player to not be named to an NBA All-Star team.
 
He’s coming off his best season as a pro when he averaged career highs in scoring (20.5 points per game) and shooting (45.9 percent from the field, 40.7 percent on 3’s) along with 3.5 rebounds, also a career benchmark.
 
In addition, Conley’s 6.3 assists per game were just 0.2 assists away from tying his career best in that category.
 
But for Memphis to surprise many and extend its playoff run to eight years in a row, the Grizzlies’ inside-outside tandem of Gasol and Conley, will need help.
 
A healthy Chandler Parsons would be a huge boost.
 
One of the more versatile wing players in the league, injuries have left Parsons a shell of the player that he once was.
 
He has had each of his past three seasons end prematurely due to injuries, so it’s hard to imagine Memphis will be banking on him to be healthy enough to make a major impact on the team this season.
 
They added Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans, both from Sacramento, to the roster this season.
 
Both come into training camp competing for a starting job.
 
The Grizzlies also have high hopes for 6-9 forward Rade Zagorac, a second-round pick in 2016 acquired from Boston who spent an additional year overseas before coming over to the NBA.
 
The new faces will be critical to the success of Memphis in those post Grit-and-Grind era.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Ben McLemore (Sacramento); Tyreke Evans (Sacramento).
 
Key losses: Zach Randolph (Sacramento); Tony Allen (New Orleans); Vince Carter (Sacramento).
 
Rookies of note: Rade Zagorac; Ivan Rabb; Dillon Brooks.
 
Expectations: 33-49 (fourth in the Southwest Division, 11th in the West).
 

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