Who Cares If It’s Preseason, The Celtics Continued To Look Pretttayyyyy Prettaayyyy Pretttayyyy Good

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

I know it’s preseason and these games are not supposed to mean absolutely anything, but sadly that is not how this (or my brain) works. The Celtics lace em up and hit the floor, to me it matters. With this team being so new, every second, every possession, it all matters. I for one was looking forward to this matchup with the Sixers, mostly because it was going to be our first time playing the team that supposedly is ready to challenge the Celtics. Or at least is on their way to. It was going to be a matchup of Fults/Simmons vs Jaylen/Tatum. But then Fultz got a hangnail and decided not to play. Sad! That’s OK though, Philly fans have been telling me through Twitter for months how much Ben Simmons is going to destroy the Celtics so at least there was going to be that right? No? That didn’t happen either? Man, poor Philly.

As we stand today, the Celts are 2-0 and have shown some pretty encouraging flashes. I won’t waste your time, let’s dive right in

The Good 

– There were a lot of strong performances to choose from for the top spot here, but my choice was pretty simple. We’re starting with Skinny Marcus because this new and improved Marcus Smart is the player I always wanted him to become. Enjoy.

Pay him whatever he wants. Just do it. I’ve seen enough through two games to declare his shooting most likely fixed, and that one sequence late in the third quarter essentially won them the game. If there were questions as to if this slimmer version of Marcus would have any defensive issues, I think we can agree the answer is no. He led the team with 4 deflections too by the way.

– Brad talked a lot about how his starting lineups were going to be matchup oriented, and last night was a chance to see another variation. Kyrie/Jaylen/Tatum/Hayward/Horford was fun as hell to watch. I think this group is what we’ll see when Brad wants a more offensive minded lineup, and having five guys on the floor that can all handle, and all create for others, is going to provide numerous challenges for defenses.

Here’s what I mean. If you’re putting Hayward at the 3/4, he’s going to have a mismatch on certain possessions. His ability to score we already know about, but what intrigues me is his ability to create for others.

hayward

He led the team with 5 assists in 23 minutes, and it’s this passing ability that makes me think we’ll see Hayward often times initiate offense kind of like what he did in Utah. He has the second highest Net Rating on the Celts through two games, which reaffirms what we all hoped for. Him and Brad are going to make beautiful basketball magic together.

– We also saw a little bit of the shot making ability of new point guard Kyrie Irving

He had 21 on 7-14 shooting, including five 3s so offensively he was probably the best Celtic last night. Didn’t pass too much, just 3 assists while again leading the Celtics in usage at 27.5%, but they didn’t really need him to create offense for others since Hayward took care of that most of the time they were both on the floor. I would imagine we see that a lot this year.

– OK I can’t hold it in anymore.

YAAAAAABBBUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!

This was the Yabu I hoped and dreamed for. Sure I would have liked to see him knock down one of those threes, but the rebounding (8) and the defense (2 steals) are exactly what this team needs from him. The biggest thing to watch when Yabu is on the court is his foot speed. For a dude this big, he can MOVE. I had some people tweet me after his first game he looked slow and out of place, but I could not disagree more. His ability to move his feat and recover quickly on the defensive end is going to earn him minutes on this team. So will his 20% defensive rebounding rate that he had last night. Get on the Yabu train now, because once it leaves the station that’s it, you miss out.

– Jaylen on the break is perhaps my favorite Jaylen

10 points on 50% shooting for Jaylen, who didn’t make a three but did have a 104.4 defensive rating. I’ll make that trade any day of the week.

– We all agree this second unit is going to be reliant on an improved Terry Rozier. Well, through two games, it appears we are getting an improved Terry Rozier

Terry led all second unit players with 13 points, but he also through in a couple rebounds and 3 assists. What I loved was he had an aggressive approach, tying for the team lead with 6 FTA (which he made). And perhaps most importantly, the one thing that plagued previous editions of Rozier was at times he played way out of control. Last night? Just one turnover in 19 minutes.

– Oh right, Jayson Tatum can do things like this

He finished with 9/5 on 44% shooting in 22 minutes. This is the kind of line/performance that I expect to see consistently from him.

Oh yeah, he also did this

Everything coming up Ainge baby!

– Don’t look now, but the Celtics have played two games, and haven’t gotten killed on the glass in either of them! In this game they kept it close, 49-48, and this may be the thing I’m most happy about so far this preseason. If rebounding isn’t actually going to be the worst in the NBA, this team is going to be SCARY. Horfordm, Yabu, Theis, they all showed up.

– Mark my words. Aron Baynes is going to be a terrific Celtic. He is EXACTLY what this team was lacking and has come over and been better than advertised. You can almost pencil him in for 12/5 every night with good percentages. Oh and he makes his FTs which I am very much here for.

The Bad

– As expected, the Celtics perimeter defense has shown to take a step back. They struggled in P&R defense leading to multiple wide open threes, and too often the guards up top provided no resistance when it came to preventing their opponent from getting into the paint. It’s very early, and not exactly time to panic about this, but through two games it hasn’t been good, that’s simply a fact.

– The same could be said about their transition defense. Lot of jogging in this game. Can’t have that

– I like Abdel Nader, I really do. I was impressed with how he played this summer, and was intrigued with his ability to attack the rim. However, last night showed the downside. The guy is kind of a black hole, and not in a good way. His 1-8 really killed the second unit, and was a main reason why this game got somewhat close towards the end. He just needs to realize it’s OK to pass the ball. Watching him play it felt like he needed to show he belonged and to do that he needed to score every time he touched the ball. That’s the wrong approach and will not earn him minutes in Brad’s system. His 3 TOs didn’t exactly help either.

– That flagrant on Yabu was weak as hell. Typical Philly scum. Not Yabu’s problem you’re a bust Okafor.

– If we’re being honest, I’m still waiting to see something from Semi. He hasn’t shot well, and had a -14.4 net rating last night. The defense should be there, but he’s going to have to show some sort of offensive life.

It’s this point that makes me nervous about Brad going with the starting lineup that he did in this game. I say that because it is going to provide stretches where Theis/Yabu/Semi/Rozier/Smart are going to play together, and offensively that’s a little scary. The Euro guys haven’t exactly been lights out, and Rozier/Smart can be inconsistent at times. That’s why for now, I think it’s best that Tatum plays primarily with the second unit because we saw just how desperately they needed a legit offensive option.

The Ugly

– This is now the second game against the Celts Fultz sat out because of “injury” since Tatum outplayed him in their first summer league game. Do I think he’s really scared of the Celtics? No, but I do find it weak as hell that he didn’t play in this game. Sore shoulder was what they said, but I can almost promise you if he shot the ball well in his first appearance, that shoulder wouldn’t be sore. It’s the preseason and I know it doesn’t matter, but after all the hype between these two teams, this was lame.

– Giving up nearly 60 points to the Sixers without Embiid or Fultz is not exactly what I would call good defense. It always seems to happen when we play Philly, they make a shit ton of threes and the Celtics forget how to defend. Please clean that up.

These two teams play again on Monday, and I hope to God Philly actually plays their guys (minus Embiid obviously). Beating the Sixers is always fun, but I want to do it with as close to a full lineup as possible so their fans can shut the fuck up for like two seconds. Overall, I’d give the Celts a solid B+ through two games, and really can we just start the regular season already.

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