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Celtics Fall To Raptors, 97-99

If the Celtics play a preseason game on the same night as Game 4 of the ALCS, does anyone notice?

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.

Other observations…

– 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.

  • CelticsBIG3

    "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."

    This is the quote of the article right here. As I stated in the recap post about the Brooklyn game, Green stinks. He's never going to bring a consistent "asshole mentality", he is never going to rebound, and he'll never adapt to being double teamed. He'll have an occasional game where he dunks 50 times and all the casual fans will drool over him talking about how "he's arrived" and this and that. How many f'n times is Jeff Green going to "arrive"?

    The preseason alone has exposed his tremendous inadequacies as an offensive first option. He gets the ball on the wing, jab steps 40 times, waits too long, double team comes, fumbles/throws away ball to opposing team. Without other CONSISTENT legitimate scoring threats this team will be lucky to see 90 points a night this season.

    • CelticsBIG3

      Ya…. Thumbs down and no explanation. Why is this a thumbs down? Green has shown NOTHING of what we were told we were going to see. No aggression, nothing. He stinks.

  • hax

    Jeff Green has arrived!

    • CelticsBIG3

      Jeff Green sucks.

      • YouSerious?

        I can understand frustrations with Jeff Green's game, but saying "he sucks" is just false, unless this is a sarcastic comment.

  • hax

    You're just missing his arrivals. 13 points against the stalwart raptors defense who was focusing on him all game is jordan-esque. :3

    • CelticsBIG3

      Lol

  • Jon

    I don't think the preseason can be a judge of anything except for how inshape a guy is. Yes he struggled with his shot but the rotations are out of wack. Brad Stevens is still learning and implementing his strategy and I know he's not going to show everything in preseason. Also last year Green had a pretty good preseason then beginning of the season he struggled and people asked why you not doing the same thing you did in preseason. I think once the season starts he will be okay with brad making sure he gets touches closer to the basket and not just as a jump shooter.

  • hax

    Okay seriously now. His preseason has sucked. He is playing with weird and new line-ups though. If he still sucks in the 2nd half of the season with rondo-brooks-olynyk on the floor then trade him for another pick.

  • kcdusk

    I live in Australia and only saw about a minute of highlights of this game, which included Sullinger missing the tip in/dunk at the end. Is Sullinger really out of shape? Or does he just have "one of those bodies" that looks weird? I love the guys stats but really havent seen the guy play in person.

    • hax

      One of those bodies. He is actually a lot slimmer than last year. xD