Celtics

Celtics rookie Moore impresses in debut

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Celtics rookie Moore impresses in debut

TORONTO You don't want to get too carried away with a 76-75 preseason win, especially when it comes over the Toronto Raptors who will be among the NBA's worst teams this year.

But there's no way Celtics Nation can ignore the play of E'Twaun Moore, the C's second-round pick in last June's NBA draft who continues to impress.

The 6-foot-3 combo guard only had four points on Sunday, but they could not have come at a better time.

And when you hear his teammates talk about him - his Hall of Fame-bound teammates - you don't get the sense that they're talking about a rookie.

Boston's Kevin Garnett has seen his share of talented young players come through. But the poise that Moore has shown thus far, Garnett acknowledges, is unusual.

"A lot of young people, play to the side, play to the back, kind of sit there and watch a lot," Garnett said. "He's no different from that, but at the end of the day, he has an opinion. And it's a valuable one. He's not just talking to hear himself."

Moore is vocal on the floor, directing the C's various sets when called upon. But more than his voice, his game has said plenty about how valuable his four years at Purdue and brief stint in Italy has been to preparing him for the NBA.

"Basketball is basketball, no matter where it's played," Moore said. "That's how I feel when I'm out there on the court. When I go out there, I stay confident and go out there and play hard."

What really jumps out about Moore's play has been his pace.

"The interesting thing about that, the speed, when you get young guys in they want to go so fast and they're rushing," said C's guard Ray Allen. "You can see he has a speed that's kind of in-between. He knows when to turn it on and he knows when to kind of lull his defender into a false sense of reality. That helps out here. That's one thing you have to learn when you're a young player in this league. And if you have that already, the game slows down for you."

And that could increase the chances of him cracking the Celtics rotation as the team's fourth guard behind Rajon Rondo, Allen and Keyon Dooling.

Right now, his stiffest competition appears to be coming from Avery Bradley, who was the first guard off the C's bench on Sunday.

As badly as Moore wants to play, he's approaching the prospect of seeing more action the same way he approaches the game - at a pace that is his; one that's widely respected by his teammates.

"E.T., he has a nice pace, a nice poise about him," Garnett said. "I thought the two shots he hit (in the fourth quarter) gave us a chance and put us in position to get some stops. Without those two baskets, we're not even in that position."

Moore added he was confident that both of his shots in the final 1:51 were going in.

And while shooting has been one of his strengths thus far, Moore's playmaking skills have been solid as well.

"I definitely was confident," he said. "Confident I can go out there and make the best play possible."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
 
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
 
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
 
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.

THE WINNING STREAK

He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
 
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
 
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
 
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
 
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
 
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
 
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
 
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
 
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
 
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
 
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
 
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
 
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
 
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
 
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
 
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
 
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
 
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
 
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
 
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

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