MILAN The Boston Celtics eased to a 124-91 victory over Olimpia Milano at the Mediolanum Forum on Tuesday, comfortably winning the first of a double-header in Europe as part of the NBA Global Games.
"Our goal is just to get better and improve," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "We'll be able to look at the film, and see how to do that. The number one thing that pleased me is our energy. I thought we played hard, I thought we made a lot of mistakes but that's to be expected."
Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Celtics with 18 points, including nine in his first seven minutes after coming off the bench midway through the first quarter.
"I think as a team we played really well," Thomas said. "There were times we didn't play so well especially at the start of the third quarter. But I think we should be really happy as it's the first time we play against another team.
"Obviously there were things missing, we're only at the start of our preseason, but overall I think we played a pretty good game."
Jared Sullinger added 14 points, as did Avery Bradley, who also made four from four three-pointers, while David Lee weighed in with 13 as well as seven rebounds and three assists.
Marcus Smart provided six assists as the Celtic put on an impressive performance at the start of their preseason.
"Honestly it surprised me because I know they started their camp a few days ago," Milano coach Jasmin Repesa said. "But they played really well together.
"The way they played, moved the ball, offense, defense... I'm really surprised they can play this sort of basketball after just a few days together."
Alessandro Gentile who is reportedly wanted by the Houston Rockets, who hold NBA rights to the 22-year-old top scored for Milano, with 19 points.
Charles Jenkins had 14 and Robbie Hummel added 12.
Stevens had said before the game he wouldn't play anyone for more than 28 minutes and so it proved. Jae Crowder had the most time on court, playing 25 minutes. Everyone got on the court apart from Evan Turner, who had a right knee strain.
Milano led only once in the game, as Gentile recorded the first points with a driving lay-up shot to the delight of a sellout 11,388 crowd that included Italy soccer great Paolo Maldini, AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani and the newly-crowned Miss Italy.
But the Celtics quickly racked up the points and led 34-20 at the end of the opening quarter.
Boston stretched that to 61-44 at the end of the first half. And although Milano briefly threatened a comeback with nine points at the start of the second, the Celtics swiftly snuffed out the assault to stretch their lead to 28 at the end of the third quarter.
Next up for the Celtics is Real Madrid in Spain on Thursday.
"We've got plenty of film of being late on rotations," Stevens added. "We were fortunate that they missed a lot of shots. We'll have to improve that as we get ready for Madrid because their skill is outstanding, they make you pay if you're late."