BOSTON – Some Boston Celtics fans will get their first glimpse at this season’s squad tonight when the team holds an open practice at the TD Garden.
For those fortunate enough to attend tonight’s practice, you have to remember that these guys have only been together as a team for three days.
Execution will surely be off at times so anticipate lots of turnovers and if you don’t see head coach Brad Stevens at either bench it’s because he’ll be moving about, evaluating the players and not coaching them as much tonight.
There’s a lot of different angles and storylines that will begin to play themselves out tonight for the Celtics.
Here’s my starting five:
The Celtics have three rookies on the roster but none are expected to see much playing time this season. Terry Rozier, taken with the 16th overall pick, will probably see some spot duty in the backcourt but most likely a sizable chunk of his rookie season will be spent with the Celtics’ Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. Ditto for R.J. Hunter and Jordan Mickey.
But tonight offers a glimpse into why the Celtics are so high on each player’s promise. If Rozier gets an opportunity, you will be impressed with his end-to-end speed. Hunter could emerge as the team’s best long-range shooter this season. Mickey runs the floor well and is a good rebounder, but like most young bigs he needs to get stronger.
We’ve seen his game grow from one year to the next but it sounds like the Celtics want Bradley to revert back to taking more corner 3s. The 6-foot-2 guard took a ton of long 2-pointers last season, so getting him back to shooting from the corner would benefit both him and the Celtics. Brad Stevens talks a lot about putting guys in the best position on the floor to succeed. That’s exactly what you’re getting with Bradley taking more corner 3s.
Last season, Bradley’s effective field goal percentage on left corner 3s was .591. It was about the same (.595) when he went to the other side of the floor and drained 3s from the right corner.
But when it came to mid-range shots, he posted a less-than-stellar .423. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on how the Celtics work to get Bradley good looks from the corners.
There is so much to love about this guy and the way he plays the game. The only challenge Boston will have with Crowder is how to best utilize him. Although he’s 6-foot-6 and can defend big guards and wing players, don’t be surprised to see him play a little bit more at the 4 (power forward) spot this season. Crowder gives away some height obviously, but like Golden State’s Draymond Green, Crowder is strong enough to hold his own and creates a matchup problem for the opposing defense.
He had a great summer running the Celtics’ summer league team, showcasing a better feel for getting others involved while still making his presence as a scorer felt. Now let’s see how he does with the veterans. Also worth keeping an eye on: How much does he play with Evan Turner, the team’s primary playmaker last season after Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas in December?
Turner is going to play, something head coach Brad Stevens was pretty clear about on Monday. But how much and in what capacity may hinge on how well Smart does at shouldering more point guard-like responsibilities.
Without question he has been – and probably will remain – the most talked about player in camp because of conditioning concerns. Sullinger spent a good chunk of the summer in Houston with former NBA player, coach and trainer John Lucas, an experience that he has said repeatedly will allow him to play harder for longer stretches than he has in the past.
“I knew I was going to play in the fourth quarter (last season). I knew Brad was going to depend on me in the fourth quarter so what I did was pace myself through the first three quarters,” Sullinger told Comcast SportsNet’s Mike Gorman in an interview last week. “Now with the conditioning I’m in, I’m able to bust out all the minutes I’m able to play at my maximum level.”