Celtics

Celtics kick off preseason with 94-82 win over Hornets

BOSTON – Kyrie Irving would drive into the lane, draw attention and kick the ball out to Gordon Hayward.

Hayward’s penetration led to open 3’s for Al Horford.

Boston’s new Big Three didn’t put up big numbers in the preseason opener for the Boston Celtics.

Nobody really does this time of year.

While their chemistry is indeed a work in progress, there’s no mistaking how well they play off one another which resulted in a few – OK, quite a few – open looks throughout their time together in the first half of Monday’s 94-82 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

The goal every preseason game is to look at different combinations and see which ones work, and which ones need work.

Boston opened the game with a starting five of the Big Three – Irving, Hayward and Horford – along with Aron Baynes at center and Jaylen Brown at small forward.

Both had their moments for the Celtics, with Baynes’ physicality being just what Boston needed against Charlotte’s Dwight Howard.

And Brown’s versatility was on display throughout the game as well.

Maybe the biggest surprise early on besides Baynes’ scoring (he had 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting), was the scoring of Marcus Smart.

Smart, who continues to play an important role off Boston’s bench, made his first two shots … a pair of 3-pointers. He would finish the first half with nine points, all coming from beyond the 3-point arc.

Boston emptied the bench in the second half, looking at a variety of combinations which is what coaches do this time of year.

But for the Celtics faithful in attendance, this game was about seeing Boston’s New Big Three for the first time.

And while they didn’t put up eye-popping numbers, the ease in which they seemed to get one good look after another is certainly encouraging for a Celtics team that has been together for just six days prior to Monday’s game.  

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