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Turner Impressive Juggling Different Roles In Preseason Debut

BOSTON (CBS) -- It's hard enough to come to a new team and learn the ins and outs of a different franchise. Add in the fact that Evan Turner is learning how to juggle different positions on the floor, and one could understand if he gets off to a slow start to his Boston Celtics career.

But that wasn't the case in Monday night's preseason opener. Turner looked impressive in whatever role he was in, scoring 15 points to go with 10 rebounds and six assists in Boston's 98-78 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Yes, it's only preseason -- and the preseason opener at that. And yes, the 76ers are likely to finish at the bottom of the NBA barrel, much like the Celtics are expected to do.

But Turner wore a few different hats on the floor Monday night, getting the start at small forward before taking care of ball handling duties throughout the contest. Turner, who the Celtics hope can be a bit of a Swiss army knife for head coach Brad Stevens, ran the point for most of the second half, finishing a team-best plus-19 in his 31 minutes on the floor.

With the MLB playoffs in full swing, it was a baseball analogy that best fit Turner's game on Monday night.

"We spoke a couple of days ago and coach was like, 'Just hit singles and your talent's going to take over. Just take it one step at a time and nothing too complicated. Eventually your talent is going to take over,'" Turner recalled following the game. "That's what I did."

"That's who he's got to be. I think he can be better than he was tonight, but he played well," Stevens said. "He's been pretty good in practice. He was not as good in the scrimmage the other night and I think he was pretty hard on himself, but I thought [Sunday] was his best practice and he followed it up with a very good game tonight."

After struggling in Friday's scrimmage, Turner said Rajon Rondo, out nursing a broken hand, helped him over the weekend with his pacing to get him more comfortable in the point guard position -- a role he hasn't played major minutes at since his college days at Ohio State.

"Rondo helped me a lot with my pace and kind of told me what he was seeing a lot," said Turner, who signed a two-year deal with Boston in the offseason. "Throughout the practice, coach helped me but Rondo helped me a lot too. I think I finally started slowing down and letting the game come to me. I was just trying to hit singles."

With Rondo sidelined and possibly out for the first couple of weeks of the regular season, Turner will be sharing time with both Phil Pressey and rookie Marcus Smart at point guard throughout the preseason. Cast off by the 76ers just 3 1/2 years after they selected him with the second overall pick and then jettisoned by the Indiana Pacers following a brief stint after being acquired at last year's trade deadline, Turner is looking to rebound his career with a fresh start in Boston.

His role has yet to be determined, but that may not be a bad thing. Turned showed everyone a glimpse of his versatility on Monday night, and if he continues to play as well as he did he could be Boston's opening night point guard -- and a key part of the franchise's rebuild in the near future.


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