After An Undefeated Preseason, The Celtics Appear Ready For The Regular Season

Boston Celtics v Charlotte Hornets

4-0. A total of 16 quarters of basketball, and the Celtics lost just three. I’d say that’s pretty good. Biggest shock has to be how well this team appeared to gel, even if it was fake basketball. I think we can all agree that happened WAY faster than anyone thought. God damn Brad Stevens you basketball savant.

Thankfully, the next time we see this team the games will actually count. We may not see Lebron in that game though as rumors are already swirling that he could miss the game with a “hurt” ankle. That is laugh out loud funny. Part of me wants him to play, but part of me doesn’t simply because of the drama it will cause. Can you imagine he misses the only time all year the Celtics are going to play in CLE?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there’s Celtics basketball porn to relive. Let’s go

The Good

– Easy choice to start us off today. To put it simply, Kyrie Irving was fantastic. His best game as a Celtic no doubt, so before we dive in, enjoy.

A couple things stood out to me from this Irving performance, pleasant surprises if you will. For starters, let’s talk about the 10 assists and 0 turnovers. How rare of a performance was this? Well, in 381 career games, Kyrie Irving has had at least 10 assist 29 times. Of those 29 times, in just 5 of them did he have 0 turnovers. So yeah, this was what I would call a surprise. Coming over from CLE, there was never really any doubt about Kyrie’s scoring ability. But there were valid questions about Kyrie would translate into an offense that would require him to move the ball. The answer, based on what we’ve seen, is a 16:3 assist to TO ratio. I am very much in favor of this. We hadn’t seen Kyrie pass like this yet this preseason, but boy does the chemistry with Kryie and his teammates look fantastic.

It was small, but this assist in particular stood out to me


















Kyrie easily could have gone with the reverse layup here, that’s one of his strongest shots. Instead, he chose to dish it off to a cutting Jaylen. It might not seem like much, but that willingness to pass, and the emphasis on giving his teammates confidence is exactly what I want from Kyrie. I know he can score. Last night he showed me he can be a WILLING passer, which was a big question.

– I don’t care if it’s preseason, this offense looks fantastic. Finishing the game with 50/50% splits including 16 made threes, and just 13 turnovers, it’s clearly contagious because legit offensive performances are coming from everywhere. Every single starter had at least 2 made threes in this game, and not one player shot under 50%. Absolute insanity.

Take Al Horford for example. He went 6-7 from the floor and 3-3 from deep. His shot looks even better than I remembered, guy no longer even touches the rim. I’ll take 15/8/4 all damn day if it looks like this

But he’s not alone. While he’ll have one shot every once in a while that makes you shake your head, we were shown yet again the progress Marcus Smart has made offensively. Now he has a floater? Love it. Add in more high percentage shots to his arsenal, and combine it with his Marcus The Creator vision

and you my friends, have yourself a quality basketball player.

– Speaking of great vision, what’s the one thing that will always remain constant in this blog? Yes, a heavy dose of homerism, but also the celebration of beautiful ball movement. Nothing gives me a raging Scalabrine quicker than shit like this

The Celts did this a lot, starting the game with 6 assists on their first 9 baskets, and when they move the ball like this, they get rewarded by the Basketball Gods, it’s that simple.

– They’re going to be paired together for the rest of their Celtics careers, so we may as well enjoy what they did in the same video. Jayson and Jaylen are going to be a PROBLEM

I know Morris probably thought he was going to start, but I can’t sit here and tell you Jayson Tatum doesn’t look solid with this group. It does give me second unit offense concerns, but not as much if Rozier and Smart are going to be as good as we’ve seen. I’ll take 13/5 from Tatum with a couple highlight plays, and more importantly, if he can defend like he did last night. He had a defensive rating of 98.9, and I know, “preseason”, but I think we can all agree he’s been slightly better than we all thought coming out of the Summer League where if you remember Donovan Mitchell sort of ended his life.

– The reason the Celts starters were really able to pull away from this game wasn’t just because of their high level offensive performance, but once again, their defense as a group was pretty solid. Holding a team to 38 points in a half when they played their starters big minutes was impressive, and I mean look at these defensive ratings, the Celtics starters were clearly locked in defensively

Irving – 84.9

Horford – 84.9

Jaylen – 87.9

Hayward – 98.9

For me, I was most impressed with Jaylen. Those back to back possessions where he handled and isolation, and then came back and had another block in the post is exactly what Brad is talking about when he said earlier this summer that Jaylen needs to take the leap to become an elite defender. Missing Avery could hurt, but this type of Jaylen defense will help it sting just a little less.

– He had a real rough night which we’ll get to in a second, but there was this shining moment for Yabu

– You know how I know Gordon Hayward is going to be fine? Well, first because he’s really fucking good and Brad Stevens’ basketball dream, but also because on a night where his shot wasn’t falling, he made an effort to do everything else to make a positive impact. The 5-13 kinda stunk, but he still had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. People forget he’s 6’8, which is crazy because last night he played the SG spot. Lineup versatility sure is as fun as Brad and Danny promised us it would be.

– Shane Larkin: Closer. Don’t @ me.

The Bad

– Poor Yabu. After a couple solid performances, this was not his night. The second he stepped on the court, things sort of went south on him. He was turning it over, he was fouling, he wasn’t the true Yabu we know and love. I find it very strange that he has such hate on Twitter. The minute he does something #ActuallyBad my mentions blow up about how much he sucks and shouldn’t get minutes. Guys, he’s adjusting. He’s going to have good nights and bad nights as he finds his way. If you can’t see that his rebounding and his defense is NBA ready, you’re just being a hater.

Now offensively, it still needs a LOT of work. I’d like to see him get a couple easy baskets first to build his confidence up. I mean look at his shot chart from last night

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 9.26.14 AM

That’s not the best way to get Yabu going. The guy is a monster, let’s try and get him some FGA in the paint, and you’ll be surprised with how much better he looks.

– I think there are going to be a lot of teams that are going to kick themselves for not drafting Malik Monk. The Celtics had no answer for him and his 21/6 on 7-18 shooting, and he was a major reason why this game got close. I don’t know why, but there is always a Hornet that the Celtics can’t stop, whether it be Batum, or Gerald Henderson, they always have someone who burns them.

– Lol Dwight you bitch. What a fall from grace

– If you look at the box score, you’ll see that Abdel Nader took just 3 FGA. I call bullshit. It felt more like 5000. Nader is interesting because there’s clearly skill there, but he really shoots it every time he touches the ball. I guess we should be used to it because this was basically Gerald Green’s strategy, but the coaches need to tell him to relax. He made it. Watching him play at times it feels like he thinks he needs to be a hero in order for him to stay on this team. He has a guaranteed deal, just take a deep breath

The Ugly

– It wouldn’t be a Celtics game without them blowing multiple double digit leads now would it. My lord I should not be having this type of stress about a game that means nothing, but I wanted that 4-0 record bad, real bad. All that great defense in the first half went out the window, as the Hornets dropped 62 points on 47/45% splits. Say what you want about the regular season rotation, but guys like Rozier, Yabu, and Semi all played at least half of that fourth quarter, and the Hornets shot 50%.

It’s very frustrating when you have a nice lead, to then take almost half of your FGs from behind the arc in the final quarter. There was a lot of “make one pass and everyone stand around and hope that dude beats his man 1 on 1″ offense, which I did not care for.

– We now have to wait until Tuesday to see these guys play again. After the preseason we just witnessed, that is torture.

 

The takeaway from this preseason, at least for me, is the Celtics are going to be as fun and as good as we all thought they’d be, but it’s happening a whole hell of a lot faster than I thought. It’ll be important this team doesn’t buy into their own hype and press and start the season flat, because they begin the year with CLE/PHI/MIL/SA/OKC. I like having this sort of test early, now if only the calendar would hurry the hell up.

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