WALTHAM, Mass. — LeBron James shot 5-for-12 from the field
in the Heat's preseason opener on Sunday, two days before seven-year role
player C.J. Miles scored 18 points for the Cavaliers. Dirk Nowitzki did not
even play for the Mavericks against FC Barcelona, and Chris Paul had yet to so
much as practice before Tuesday.
If one were to draw conclusions based on a single game or
week in the preseason, then, the judgments would be that James is average at
best, that Miles is a star and that Nowitzki and Paul are finished.
We bring this up because Courtney Lee was terrible in his
Celtics debut last Friday, clanging the rim on four of his six shots and
picking up six fouls — five in the second quarter alone — in less than 28
minutes against Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul. He was dreadful by any measure,
and at the start of Sunday's exhibition game against AC Emporio Armani in
Milan, he found himself replaced in the starting lineup by Jason Terry.
Back in the states on Wednesday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers
dismissed any suggestion that he was worried about Lee fitting in.
"It's an exhibition game one," Rivers said.
"If coaches made decisions based on the first three or four exhibition
games, they'd probably cut half the league and then we'd be left with nothing.
You just don't overanalyze anything, but you look at it and you pay attention
to it, and you just keep pushing."
Lee recovered in the second game, as one would expect of a
four-year veteran with NBA Finals experience, hitting four of his five shots
off the bench. Again, Rivers did not read too deeply into that game, either.
Darko Milicic, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass also played well in that game,
but we are guessing Rivers will not use that game as reason to start those
three alongside Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rondo and Lee during the regular
season. (The 7-on-5 advantage would be beneficial for the Celtics, however.)
Lee did not speak with reporters after Wednesday's practice,
but he did stay on the court longer than most of the Celtics' rotation players.
Jeff Green typically has been the last Celtics "regular" to leave the
court after practice sessions in camp thus far, but Lee almost outlasted Green
well after their teammates had hit the showers.