Five things you're probably not thinking about in C's preseason opener
BOSTON – The preseason opener for the Celtics against the Charlotte Hornets is just a few hours from now. Each team knows tonight’s outcome is no indicator as to how things will play out when these two teams meet in the regular season.
Of course, all eyes will be on Boston’s New Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, who will take the floor as teammates in a game for the first time. There will also be a decent amount of attention paid to how Charlotte big man Dwight Howard meshes with his new teammates.
But this game, like so many others on the horizon for the Celtics, has many layers to it.
So here’s a glimpse at five things you’re probably not thinking about for tonight’s game:
LIMITED MINUTES FOR CHARLOTTE STARS
For those who came to see Charlotte’s Dwight Howard or former UConn star Kemba Walker (at left), two words for you: arrive early.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford said his entire roster will play tonight except for Michael Carter-Williams (knee), and that his starters will play 20 or so minutes.
MENTOR MEETS MENTEE
One of Jaylen Brown’s mentors in the NBA is Dwight Howard (at left), who like Brown, is from Georgia. The two have also shared the same trainer dating back to Brown’s days in high school. The two have kept a close relationship since then.
“I love his progress,” Howard said, referring to Brown. “I love where his head is at. And he’s on a really good team. And he has had an opportunity to shine and I think he’s going to take advantage of it.”
ROOKIE BIGS TO WATCH
With Marcus Morris’ trial on assault charges still ongoing, Boston’s young big men will get a few more reps in the preseason than they would if the 6-foot-9 Morris were in training camp. Keep an eye on Guerschon Yabusele (at left) and Daniel Theis, a pair of rookies from France and Germany, respectively. Yabusele, a former first-round pick of the Celtics, has shown no signs of being limited following the removal of bone spurs this summer and having done little basketball-wise this summer. Theis, who has won multiple championships overseas in Germany, is a high-energy forward who is going to get time in the preseason as well.
When Shane Larkin signed with the Celtics, Boston’s backcourt was loaded with guards. Even with Avery Bradley (Detroit) and Isaiah Thomas (Cleveland) gone, there’s still no clear path towards playing time. But the 5-11 point guard will compete with minutes as a backup point guard with Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart (although Smart may play more off the ball this season with Larkin around). Look for him to see action tonight and while he’s out there, wish the young fella a happy birthday (he turns 25 today).
DOWN UNDER CONNECTIONS
Kyrie Irving is the first player born in Australia to play for the Boston Celtics, but he won’t be the only player with Australian ties on the floor tonight. Charlotte’s Mangok Mathiang (at left) is originally from Juba Sudan (now referred to as South Sudan), but his mother and sisters moved to Australia when he was seven years old (his father stayed behind in Sudan). After playing prep ball for two years in the United States, he would go on to play for the University of Louisville. The 6-10 big man went undrafted in last June’s NBA draft but wound up signing a two-way contract with the Hornets.