The preseason is not necessarily indicative of regular season performance. In fact, in most cases what happens in the preseason — win-loss records, individual player performances, lineups — should be summarily dismissed. The regular season is a whole new beast with a whole new set of expectations and goals. It stretches over a much longer period of time and is rife with high peaks and low valleys. It is almost impossible to predict.
Except for this year.
This season, the Celtics team you’ve seen Brad Stevens trot out for this annual ritualistic meaninglessness is the same team you will watch night in and night out. It’s best we all get comfortable.
Tonight’s contest was the perfect microcosm for what is to come. The Raptors are a team on the rise with known commodities like Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, and DeMar DeRozan. They also have young guys like Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross with whom they hope to reach the playoffs this season, and contend beyond. Their roster even sports glue guys like Tyler Hansborough, Amir Johnson, and Landry Fields. The Raptors are exactly where the Celtics want to be a year from now, which is why it’s not surprising that the C’s fell despite many key dinos logging less than 15 minutes.
To be fair to Raptors coach Dwayne Casey, it’s not the like the Celtics provided any incentive for the Raptors’ starters. It was clear from the jump that Rudy Gay could get whatever he wanted and wherever he wanted with Jeff Green on him. Gay, known for his defensive shortcomings, was hardly a liability in the 12 minutes he played. Green should have used that time to showcase any proof that he’s ready to be the primetime swingman for the Boston Celtics. To almost no one’s surprise, he could not and did not.
I’m not worried that the Celtics are losing preseason games. I actually want that losing to carry into the regular season. I want the young guys to get significant time to develop and learn from a good coach and have the opportunity to learn in big, real moments within a game. It’s hard to teach what it’s like to be in these types of situations by watching film. My concerns from this game really revolve around things that the players shouldn’t be bad at: execution, defensive rotations, running the floor, putting forth the effort. It’s one thing to lose games because the other team has more talent/is more experienced. It’s another to lose due to poor effort and execution. I want the regular season to be rife with the former and devoid of the latter.
- I have so many mixed feelings regarding Jordan Crawford as the de facto point guard in Rajon Rondo’s absence. On the one hand, he’s one of the few players on the C’s that can handle pressure, make shots, and see the floor. On the other, he’s Jordan FREAKING Crawford. Tonight he had four assists, one turnover, and really deferred. He’s been deferring all preseason. Instead of going 1 on 5 in transition, he’s actually making some smart decisions. If this is the new NBA, then the Raptors should be ring shopping.
- Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani do lots of little things that should warm your heart as a Celtics/basketball fan. They run the floor. They pick up other people’s men on defense. They fight for rebounds. They make great interior passes. Watching them make up the C’s backup frontcourt this season will be a ton of fun.
- Chris Babb has to make this team, right? He’s the exact type of player a team wants on its roster to make the veterans work hard in practice. Not only that, but he’s the type of player who might make a significant contribution after a year of NBA seasoning. He also already has three important NBA skills: outside shooting, effort, and defense. At the risk of hyperbole (why not? It’s the preseason!), Babb is a trade or an injury away from being this year’s Wes Matthews.