The Milan Factor: What to watch for

By Tyler Sullivan. Follow on Twitter @TylerSully

It’s game day for the Boston Celtics. Sure, it’s just an exhibition game, but we’ll take what we can get.

The C’s open up overseas play against Olimpia Milano at Mediolanum Forum  at around 2:30pm our time and then on Thursday will tip off with Real Madrid.

Even though these games technically don’t count, they still are a welcome sight to the players who are sick and tired of battling against themselves.

Here are some things to look for.

Team Chemistry 

One of the most important things that Brad Stevens and his players want to focus on in this trip is building team chemistry.

“I want us to become like a family. I think that is what we should use this trip as,” said Avery Bradley to reporters before leaving.

The Celtics aren’t led by one singular superstar which makes chemistry that much more important. With chemistry comes the ability to talk with one another on the court.

“You know being comfortable around guys, being comfortable talking to each other,” said Kelly Olynyk when talking to the media in Milan. “Criticizing and critiquing each other and you know once you can do that on the floor you’ll be be able to do that as well. ”

“Sometimes film doesn’t say everything,” said Celtics big man Jared Sullinger. “The more we talk to one another about basketball and the more we talk about the little things what we like what we don’t like, we figure each other out and the next thing you know it translates on the court.”

And it seems like the team is off to a good start on the chemistry front. Newly acquired and newly dubbed point-forward David Lee organized a players only dinner where the team broke bread and spent the night together.

Jockeying for Position

The backcourt is going to particularly interesting to watch and see who gets the start as the starting point and shooting guard. Isaiah Thomas has mad his opinions known that he wants to be a starter, or at least get starters minutes, and with his offensive capabilities, it might force Brad Stevens’ hand. At the other spot second year man Marcus Smart seems to be the logical choice.   Regardless, this trip overseas could shed some light on which way Stevens is leaning in terms of a starting roster.

Competitive Fire 

Even battling against themselves, the C’s are bringing the fire as if they were in the midst of a playoff run.

Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe and other reporters had the rare opportunity to watch live game action of the Celtics at practice.

Injury Bug 

Evan Turner suffered a right knee strain at practice, but Head Coach Brad Stevens doesn’t think it should be anything too serious. As for Jones, he looks like he will be a go according to CSNNE after suffering a knee injury that had him sit out a couple of practices right before the team left for Europe.

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