Tuesday’s preseason game against Brooklyn wasn’t the triumphal return, nor was it the emotional matchup we’ve all been waiting for. Kevin Garnett was nowhere to be seen. Paul Pierce scored just one basket. And most importantly, the game itself was bad offensively and tough to watch,
This doesn’t need to be particularly long. Few, if any, of the combinations we saw showed much promise. Players who had good games against New York on Saturday (Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford) regressed hard. Three of the most exciting players (Jared Sullinger, Vitor Faverani and Phil Pressey) saw 30 minutes combined. Tonight was clearly about two things: 1) Trying a few very specific lineups over an extended period of time and 2) Making sure there were players with legs Wednesday.
Whatever the specific lineups were supposed to accomplish, it’s safe to say we missed it on Tuesday. The offense was just bad on both ends. The Celtics were 31-for-87 from the field, 5-for-17 from 3-point range, and somehow they outshot the Nets both inside and outside the 3-point arc. Brooklyn was 3-for-21 from deep, an abysmal 14.3%.
If Tuesday was an anomaly, the Celtics could still shake it off and continue to develop. If it wasn’t an anomaly, well, Andrew Wiggins/Julius Randle and a high lottery pick are all beckoning. If it’s somewhere in between the two…who knows.
Anyway, let’s get to some bullet points:
- I’ve been overwhelmingly negative so far, so let’s start with the most positive statistics. Kelly Olynyk was 5-for-8, and although he looked hesitant to take open 3-pointers still, he did grab four rebounds and record Boston’s only positive double digit +/- with +10. Also: Avery Bradley pulled down nine rebounds
which is more than Jeff Green has grabbed all preseasonNEVER MIND, I’M BEING POSITIVE. Courtney Lee finished 3-for-6 from 3-point range. Jeff Green looked aggressive attacking the basket.
- Jared Sullinger was 1-for-2 from 3-point range, but something interesting happened when he hit his first 3-pointer. On the next play, he got the ball in the corner and elevated for a shot. Brook Lopez came flying over to contest the shot and he got a piece of it, but with Lopez out of the lane, the Celtics were able to grab an offensive rebound. On the next play, Sullinger shot-faked behind the 3-point line and got his man in the air, driving into the lane and creating contact and a foul. I questioned Sullinger’s shot selection early, but as always, Brad Stevens knows more than me. Sully has just enough range to force defenders to respect him, and that’s all he needs to make the 3-point line a legitimate weapon in his offensive arsenal. The spacing provided by his 3-point shooting could be very useful in unclogging a clogged lane.
- Bradley, like much of the rest of the offense, shot poorly despite his nine rebounds, making one wonder to what extent his 6-for-10 performance on Saturday was a product of Small Sample Size Theater.
- Jordan Crawford struggled badly. His line (5-for-12 for 10 points as well as six assists) looks a little better than it was, especially given his five turnovers. His poor shot selection could be attributed to the struggles of the rest of the offense, or, you know, to him being Jordan Crawford. His next game will be telling.
- For my money, Celtics games in 2013-14 without Vitor Faverani are games without meaning.
The Celtics take the floor again tonight, facing the Raptors in Toronto.We can expect to see more Faverani, more Pressey and possibly more Olynyk (who tallied 20 minutes last night). All of this will probably add up to make tonight’s game more fun as well.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
Latest posts by Tom Westerholm (see all)
- Practice Notebook: Bradley’s Return, Vitor In Maine, More - February 1, 2014
- Rondo: Celtics Will Still Lose “Even When I’m Back 110 Percent” - January 31, 2014
- Throwing The Fight: 76ers 95, Celtics 94 - January 29, 2014