UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The Boston Celtics may have had a new-look starting five against the Charlotte Hornets, but the end result on Saturday was no different than it was when the two faced off on Thursday – a Celtics victory.
Boston (2-1) pulled away in the second half and never looked back as they handily defeated Charlotte, 104-86.
But this one came with the Celtics resting four-fifths of their starting five, with the only regular starter with the first group being Jae Crowder.
The thinking behind the move was two-fold:
By sitting most of his starters, they actually wind up getting two days off because the team will not practice on Sunday.
And with Crowder starting, he would play a lot more at power forward and not as much at his usual small forward position.
These are the kinds of things that you do in the preseason, never knowing when that lineup might come in handy for a few minutes at some point after the regular season starts.
If there was one drawback for Boston, it would have to have been the elbow Terry Rozier took to the face in the second quarter with 7:41 to play in the half.
Charlotte’s Christian Wood was driving to the lane when he leveled Rozier on a play that officials ruled was a flagrant foul.
Fortunately for Rozier and the Celtics, it was only a cut lip that was closed with seven stitches. He did not return to play, but Rozier was on the Celtics’ bench afterwards.
More than anything else, keeping the starters out gave ample opportunities to a Boston bench that’s loaded with players needing to get on the floor and prove themselves.
R.J. Hunter has struggled in the first two preseason games. But on Saturday, the 28th overall pick in 2015 showed signs of being the kind of player the Celtics need him to be.
In addition to knocking down a couple shots, he also did some nice things defensively. Hunter had seven points in the first half.
Boston also got a solid game from Tyler Zeller, who has seen his role fluctuate often during his time as a Celtic.
He got the start on Saturday, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first half.
Near the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth, Boston used an extremely Green team – as in very young.
To put it in perspective, 21-year-old James Young was the “veteran” on the floor.
But to their credit, they were able to take a 14-point lead and nearly double it which was certainly a nice confidence booster for the players as well as the Celtics coaching staff.