BOSTON – Prior to the Boston Celtics’ open practice at the TD Garden on Tuesday, head coach Brad Stevens warned us not to read too much into the lineups that would take to the floor at the start of the game.
Indeed, nothing about the lineups Boston unveiled Tuesday night or in the coming weeks will be set in stone.
And while Stevens tries to settle on a group that works, we will get plenty of opportunities to see his players in action.
Tuesday was one of those moments as the TD Garden.
There were some impressive performances on hand, and others that weren’t quite as good.
Here’s a look at some of the studs and duds from Tuesday night’s practice which featured three, 8-minute quarters of play.
He led all players with 17 points, and did so with an array of mid-range jumpers, drives to the basket and the 3-ball. Olynyk having a big night was not all that surprising. He spent most of this summer playing with the Canadian National Team, so he didn’t have nearly as much rust to shake off as some of his teammates. Still, to see Olynyk play so well in stretches was a great sight to see if you are the Celtics who would love for their 7-foot big man to play with more consistency.
Few players seem to impact games with little to no fanfare, more than Zeller. He had 15 points basically rolling to the basket and running the break. Where he fits in with this team remains a huge question. Because the Celtics are likely to play small-ball more than they did last season which means fewer minutes for him. Still, when you look at him being so effective rolling to the basket or just running the floor and being able to finish, he’ll once again make it tough for the Celtics to keep him off the floor.
There were others who had more than eight points scored, but there was no mistaking the presence Johnson provides defensively for the Celtics. His ability to run the floor, defend his man and provide adequate help-defense when needed, were all on display Tuesday night. Boston has not settled on a specific starting lineup for this season, but it would hard to imagine the first unit for this team not including the 6-foot-9 big man.
You don’t want to put too much stock, good or bad, in what happens in just one practice. But Young, a player with high impact potential, was a non-factor most of the time he was on the floor. It’s still early in training camp so there’s plenty of time – and there will be plenty of opportunities – for Young to play better. But for fans who came to see an improved James Young on Tuesday night, came away disappointed.
I love the fact that one of the first things Jared Sullinger tried to do upon entering the game was get low-post position. And he made a few decent passes and grabbed a few boards as well. But Sullinger has the kind of talent that should dominate play, even if it is just a practice. He’s a better player than what fans at the TD Garden saw on Tuesday night. And after all the talk about his conditioning being an issue, this was his opportunity to silence a lot of his critics. Instead, he only gave the more reasons to keep chirping away. Again, there’s no reason to get too worked up over him having a relatively ineffective practice on Tuesday. But with the kind of depth Boston has in the frontcourt, he can’t afford to be anything less than his best every time he steps on the floor.