There’s going to be a night in January when the Celtics play the Nets, and it will be a little dusty in my living room.
Tonight was not that night. Brooklyn rested every starter on its squad (Pierce, Garnett, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams) plus likely sixth-man Andrei Kirilenko. As a result, you’d be correct in taking very little stock in Boston’s win, which pushed them to 2-6 in the preseason.
But, as always, taking little stock in the outcome doesn’t mean we need to take little stock in the play itself. There were a lot of encouraging elements in Boston’s final tune-up. In honor of the Celtics’ best player this evening, I suggest reading the bullets with this Brazilian band in the background.
—It’s Vitor Faverani’s world, and we are all just living in it. Faverani posted his best statline of the preseason with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting and seven rebounds, but most impressive were his six blocks in 24 minutes. His timing and hustle were impeccable, and it’s becoming apparent what Danny Ainge and other evaluators were seeing from him in training camp. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Faverani started some games for the Celtics in the regular season, and it won’t just be for lack of other center talent.
It will be PARTIALLY lack of other center talent, to be sure, but not entirely.
—Kelly Olynyk’s game is so impressively developed for a rookie. His pick-and-pops are nice (even though his screening is less than satisfactory), his handle is excellent for a big man, his passing is deadly, and he has solid rebounding instincts. He likely won’t ever be an elite rebounder given his physical disadvantages (lack of length and leaping ability), but he can position himself well, and Jared Sullinger will tell you that’s more than half the battle.
—Avery Bradley’s pick-and-roll one-dribble pull-up (how’s that for a series of hyphenates?) still just isn’t there, which is unfortunate, because it might single-handedly make him into a somewhat productive point guard. His inability to knock it down really clogs up the lane. Bradley does so many nice things, and we should remember all of them to balance our criticism. As a 3-and-D guy, he’s excellent. He just shouldn’t be handling the ball…
—Which brings me to who should be handling the ball: Phil Pressey! He turned the ball over more than one would like (4/4 assist to turnovers in 10 minutes), but he knows how to run a pick-and-roll, and he once again demonstrated good instincts in transition.
—Jeff Green was 2-for-7 from the field, but he got to the line eight times and knocked down all of his attempts. He looked considerably better, both aggressive and fairly confident attacking the rim before he left the game in the third quarter with an elbow stinger. Multiple beat writers tweeted that he will be fine.
—One has to wonder if Gerald Wallace’s rant lit a fire under the Celtics. I didn’t see a lack of effort personally against the Wolves, but there was definitely some urgency behind Boston’s play against the Nets. Whether that urgency was Wallace’s admonitions or just a desire to close out the preseason with a win against Brooklyn’s scrubs is up for debate.
In the final preseason game, with the Red Sox in the World Series and a 2-6 overall preseason record, a somewhat decent-sized TD Banknorth crowd gave the Celtics a standing ovation as the final seconds ticked away. It was…pretty awesome, frankly. Not awesome enough to make my living room dusty; that comes in January. But given the youth of Boston’s roster and how hard they had to work to pull out this win (regardless of the competition), it was pretty awesome all the same.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.