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Game Notes: Boston vs. Toronto

Guess which two Toronto Raptors were on the court over two hours before the opening tip? Quincy Douby and DeMar DeRozan.

Both players were sprinting off curls while being fed passes by assistant coach Alvin Williams and were dripping with sweat by the time they left the court.

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Rasheed Wallace is by far the most entertaining player I’ve come across while covering the NBA.

Heading to the arena this afternoon I found myself wondering if ‘Sheed would need to tone down his charismatic presence in the locker room due to being with new teammates in Boston.

Turns he was uncharacteristically quiet tonight in the locker room. Sure, he was rocking his trademark “altered” sweat pants. He also had his music blasting and was bouncing his head along to the music. But he wasn’t pacing around the locker room talking loudly with teammates or singing along to his music like he did in Detroit.

Maybe some of the other calmer veterans in Boston are rubbing off on Wallace.

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Speaking of entertaining, I couldn’t help but chuckle when Raptors guard Marco Belinelli showed up for his pre-game shooting drills wearing a hoodie and a jacket. How is he going to survive Canadian winters if October’s chilly weather is already getting to him?

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One of the highlights for me this afternoon was listening to Michael Grange chat with Ray Allen. Grange was able to get Allen to open up and talk about why stats don’t always tell the entire story, the two compared defense in basketball and football and the topic of hedging came up.

It was great to hear Allen share some great insight and I’m looking forward to reading Grange’s column later this week.

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Before the game I was able to chat with Michael Sweetney about what it means to be in training camp battling for a spot on an NBA roster, why Boston is the ideal situation for him, how the veterans are helping him out, what the coaches have asked to see from him so that he can make the team and what he’s learning from Clifford Ray.

Here is the audio of my chat with Sweetney:

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Earlier this month TrueHoop sparked a mild controversy when they claimed Kevin Durant was “killing his team.”

I think the idea Durant is hurting his team is pure rubbish and I’m shocked a journalist could even hint at the idea Oklahoma City could be better off without one of the top players in the NBA.

After hearing Doc Rivers talks about stats this afternoon it appears he has a similar stance.

“I think there are a lot of things that look good on paper,” Rivers explained when asked about all the new stats flooding the NBA front offices, coaching staffs and the media. “There are teams that look good on paper and statistically, and then you play them. There have been a heck of a lot of good teams put together… look at the last few (United States) Olympic teams since the last one. Statistically, those team couldn’t lose. Then when they lined them up and started playing it was a whole new ball game.”

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Speaking of stats not telling the full story, by skimming Kevin Garnett’s stats you would assume he’s ready for another NBA season.

However, from what I saw tonight Garnett looks like he aged 10 years since I saw him play last season.

Sure, he posted an impressive stat line in the first half of  15 points and 4 rebounds before finishing with a game high 21 points, but what stuck out for me was watching the veteran forward hobble up and down the court with a noticeable limp.

Then when Garnett retreated to the bench in the second quarter the first thing he did was start icing his knees.

Not the kind of stuff Celtics fans have to be happy to see.

Further adding to my concern was a sequence in the first quarter when Garnett was camped under the basket for an easy rebound but Andrea Bargani was able to drop down from the foul line and steal the rebound. Not only that, but in a couple fluid movements Bargnani was able to spin by Garnett and finish the play off with an impressive dunk.

There is no way this sequence of events would have transpired last season.

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After the game I asked Doc Rivers about Garnett’s decreased lateral quickness and he threw out a Tom Brady reference:

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A huge thank you goes out to fellow Hoops Addict writer Michael Pina for drawing my attention to Lester Hudson’s inspiring story. Hudson is the Celtics’ rookie point guard who started playing basketball when he was 18 and over the past few years he was forced to repeat a year in high school, struggled with academic issues to become eligible to play D1 ball and saw coaches from those same schools get scared off.

All this to finish second in the NCAA in scoring (27.5 points per game) behind Stephon Curry last season.

It’s not like he’s a one year wonder, either. Also on his resume is a 35 point and 10 rebound game against Derrick Rose and the Memphis Tigers as well as the NCAA’s only quadruple-double in just his third NCAA game.

Talk about having ice running through your veins.

Earlier tonight I had the pleasure of chatting with Hudson so I’m taking Pina’s story idea and attempting to build on it with some quotes  for a story that will be on Slam tomorrow.

Here’s the audio from my chat with Hudson:

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Here’s a random side note: Foreign Exchange is my favourite band right now and provide some great background music while I’m writing. Tonight their songs “I Wanna’ Know” and “Take Off The Blues” helped provide the musical fuel for these game notes.

Ryan McNeill
Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.
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