BOSTON – Brad Stevens once again gave a ton of minutes to the Celtics kiddies, many of whom found themselves in the starting lineup or regular rotation while the regular starts except for Amir Johnson got the night off.
The Celtics youngsters have stepped up throughout the preseason, but they struggled on multiple levels in the first two quarters which ended with New York ahead 59-50.
Stevens announced prior to the game that the starting lineup would consist of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jonas Jerebko and the lone regular starter, Amir Johnson.
They got off to a decent start, leading most of the first quarter with a lead that peaked at just four points.
In the last 2:50 of the quarter, there were six lead changes and a pair of ties.
Sasha Vujacic scored the final points of the quarter, a 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds to play that gave New York a 28-27 lead.
New York spent most of the second quarter playing ahead, only for the Celtics to make a spurt here and there that would briefly get the crowd excited.
But this game belonged to New York even without their best player Carmelo Anthony (rest) and their big-name newcomer Derrick Rose (away from the team).
They led by as many as 12 points before Boston cut New York’s lead to nine points with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jaylen Brown.
His buzzer-beater came moments after Smart went down with what appeared to be a left ankle injury. It is unclear if he’ll return, and whether the injury will sideline him for an extended period of time.
What we liked
Terry Rozier is going to be really good. He has confidence in his shot, a better-than-average defender and he plays with the kind of perpetual chip that you absolutely love to see in a young player. At the half, he had 13 points in 14 minutes on 5-for-7 shooting which included a 3-for-4 performance on 3s.
What we didn’t like
Boston got pushed around way too much in the first half. New York shot nearly 50 percent in the half in large part because they kept getting multiple shot attempts at the rim. That was a major key to their ability to control the game for most of the first two quarters of play.
Second half goals
In addition to cutting into the 26-19 rebounding deficit, the Celtics need to turn up the defensive pressure and force more turnovers. At the half, New York had turned the ball over just six times which led to eight points for Boston.