The Boston Celtics opened up their preseason schedule with a 97-89 loss to the Toronto Raptors at TDGarden last night. There were some bright spots from the game and also a few surprises. Months of discussion about multiple players and their roles finally had some light shed on them, for better and worse.
Let's take a look at The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
1) Gerald Wallace lead the Celtics in scoring with 16 points in 26 minutes. He took five three-pointers, making two. For our taste, that's probably too many, however, he took them within the flow of the offense and was not just chucking it up.
Wallace's strength as a transition attacker was also highlighted last night. He hustled and tracked down some loose balls, and pushed the offense up the floor on numerous occasions.
2) Avery Bradley shot two for three from the corner three spot. A shot that will be vital once Rajon Rondo is healthy. It will no doubt help spread the floor.
3) Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger played so well together that we're already thinking of a nickname for this big man combo (the Thunder and sunshine?). Olynyk led the Celtics in assists with five, Sullinger was superb under the basket and also made a splendid cross court pass to a cutting Bradley for an easy lay-up on a nicely run play.
Olynyk, Sullinger, and Wallace checked into the game when the Celtics were losing 14-2. The Celtics promptly went on a 14-0 run of their own.
1) The line-up down the stretch will be a work in progress, but Brad Stevens' first iteration was pretty bad. Jeff Green scored a basket with 4:15 left that cut the Raptors lead to 89-86. The Celtics were only able to muster up three more points following that possession. Those three points came on three separate trips to the free throw line.
In that last 4:15 the Celtics took six three pointers, missing all of them. They took no shots from inside the arch and turned the ball over twice. This game seems like it will reflect a lot of the game the Celtics play against even competition. Flashes of fun and up-tempo basketball, but stretches where growing pains are painfully obvious.
2) The starting line-up was also pretty bad last night. Bradley, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Kris Humphries were all on the minus side of the +/-. The 14-2 deficit to start the game did not help their cause, but they were disjointed and did not really seem interested in pushing the ball. Again, this is another work in progress and Stevens might have to decide if he wants the energy of Olynyk, Sullinger, and Wallace coming off the bench or starting.
3) Jeff Green was disappointing last night, only because of the hype that surrounded him this summer. He seemed out of whack, and was rather passive on the offensive side of the ball. He shot 2-7, missed all four three pointers, and turned the ball over three times. He was also the guy fans would expect to grab the game at the end and try to take it over. Unfortunately, it did not happen for him last night.
1) The Celtics were out rebounded 46-26. This has always been a huge problem for the Celtics, but the addition of Humphries was supposed to help a little bit. Sullinger led the team in rebounds, grabbing six. Humphries had four in 24 minutes.
2) Courtney Lee might not be long for this basketball team. He got the starting nod last night amidst praise from Stevens all week at camp. However, he was disappointing. in 32 minutes he shot 2-7, scored 7 points, shot 1-4 from behind the arc and had a +/- of -16. He had one good moment where he forced a steal and hit a three on the ensuing possession. However, this was the exception rather than the rule. He'll have to be better to get a spot in the toration.
Jordan Crawford saw time at at point guard. He was serviceable, did not turn the ball over and was thoughtful with his shot selection. All good things.
Vitor Faverani could be a fan favorite. He played hard and got up and down the court.
The Celtics will have to work on protecting the rim, a lot of easy baskets for Jonas Valanciunas, who looked solid and strong for the Raptors.
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