BOSTON — Almost an hour after the Celtics concluded their preseason with a slim win over an undermanned Brooklyn Nets squad, Vitor Faverani was still wearing his white home Celtics uniform, his skin still sticky with dried perspiration.
The 25-year-old rookie was not avoiding a postgame shower and change of clothes in an effort to bask in his finest game thus far as a pro. In fact, there was nothing he would have liked more than to wash off after a hard-earned 15 points, seven rebounds and six blocks in his first start.
“I want to,” Faverani said. “I want to shower. But my back’s no good. I’m with the trainers now.”
Faverani only met with reporters briefly before heading back into the trainer’s room to get treatment on his lower back, which has taken a beating as his playing time increased with the Celtics this preseason. He logged 28 minutes Wednesday in the Celtics’ 101-97 win over the Nets, impressing the 15,865 fans who passed over Game 1 of the World Series to watch an exhibition game at TD Garden.
Within the Celtics locker room, players are gradually growing respect for the Brazilian import by way of Spain. Although he was credited with only one assist, Faverani showed unusual passing skills for a 6-foot-11, 260-pound man, especially when paired with fellow rookie Kelly Olynyk in a high-low post attack. The absence of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams from the Nets’ lineup was noted, but did not completely take the shine off Faverani’s effort.
Gerald Wallace has seen the Faverani’s passing abilities in practice, but he admitted he was unaware of Faverani’s shot-swatting skills.
“I love playing with V,” Wallace said. “I didn’t know he was a good shot-blocker like that, but I know he’s a good passer. I know he ducks in and finds us open and he protects the rim for us. Any time you’re a guard, you like a big that’s going to protect the rim.”
Throughout camp, coach Brad Stevens has lauded all the players for their commitment in practice and on their own time. Yet Faverani has still managed to stand out. Faverani has worked tirelessly with assistant coach Ron Adams, a fact that both Stevens and Faverani noted after Wednesday’s game.
Now comes the hard part for Faverani, according to Stevens. It was easy to get Faverani to put in the extra work before he had tasted success. Stevens wondered Wednesday whether Faverani would get complacent now that he has heard the cheers of a crowd and may get a feeling that he has already made it to the big time.
“I think the challenge now for Vitor is, coming off of success, how do you handle that?” Stevens said. “I think he’s shown nothing but a good maturity about him thus far, and I don’t have any reason to think he won’t handle it well. But, you know, for a rookie out there, I thought he looked pretty darn good, albeit an old one.”
If Faverani ends up being a little less eager to take in Stevens’ or Adams’ lessons in the coming days, Stevens shouldn’t assume it is because he has gotten lackadaisical. The real reason will most likely be not in Faverani’s head, but farther down his spine — although getting a victory helped sooth his pain.
“My body feels tired, like everybody feels tired, but it’s a different sensation when you lose than when you win,” Faverani said. “We won, so I feel good.”