Five takeaways from Celtics-Hornets: A perfect preseason
Five takeaways from Celtics-Hornets: C's shooting the lights out
For most of his time in Boston, Brad Stevens has been a man of few words.
So as he addressed the media following Wednesday night’s 108-100 win over Charlotte, it was clear where his head was at.
“Now it becomes real on Tuesday,” said Stevens, referring to Boston’s season opener at Cleveland.
Between now and then, the Celtics will try and sharpen their execution at both ends of the floor, get a better handle on the best rotation to start the season ,and, of course, make sure players find the necessary balance between rhythm and rest.
And while the focus for Boston at this point is indeed on to the Cavs, there are lessons learned in the preseason that should bode well for Boston going forward.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Celtics’ preseason slate of games.
As we saw last season, the Celtics aren’t shy about jacking up 3-pointers. They averaged 33.4 3’s taken per game, which ranked third in the NBA. However, they connected on just 35.9 percent, which was 15th in the league. The addition of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, along with the improved shooting of Marcus Smart, has given the Celtics a solid core of long-range shooters who showed a level of consistency in the preseason few anticipated. In Wednesday’s win over Charlotte, Boston was 16-for-32 from 3-point range.
The Celtics bench is a younger unit than what we saw last season. But the talent is undeniable, which is why at times we’ll see guys from the second unit thrown into the starting lineup depending on certain matchups. In addition to Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Aron Baynes will also figure prominently in Boston’s second unit success. Daniel Theis, Shane Larkin, Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele . . . all of those players at some point will help Boston win a game. It’s not a matter of if, but when, that will happen.
He played in three of the Celtics’ four preseason games, and seemed to get better with each game.
Playing at Philadelphia on Friday, he had 21 points.
After sitting out Boston’s home game against the Sixers on Monday, he bounced back on Wednesday with a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists without playing a minute of the fourth quarter.
The 108-100 win over the Hornets on Wednesday showed just how challenging a cover Irving can be, as he gave Charlotte fits with his scoring and his ability to break down the Hornets defense and make them pay with a strong drive-and-kick game which led to great looks for Gordon Hayward, among others.
JAYLEN BROWN A STARTER
While there has been no proclamation that Brown will be in the starting lineup, he’s the only Celtics player in the preseason to start every game. Brad Stevens has repeatedly said Brown’s defense will have to be his calling card this season, a message that was received loud and clear by Brown. He has shown the ability to hold his own against players at various, ranging from Charlotte’s ultra-quick Kemba Walker, to a bigger, stronger scorer in Marvin Williams. That kind of versatility is exactly what the Celtics are looking for in Brown to provide this season.
He didn’t put up big numbers in any preseason game (his high was 13 points), but you have to love the versatility that he provides at both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-8 forward seems focused on doing whatever has to be done in order for the team to be successful. In the preseason, we have seen him be more of a playmaker in setting up teammates for scores in addition to being a solid rebounder who grabs boards in traffic as well as tracking down long ones. But as we progress through the season, there will be nights when they will need him to score at a high clip. But it’s refreshing to know that on those nights when his shot isn’t falling, he has the capability to contribute in other ways which is what you want to see from a team that has visions of deep playoff runs.