To wrap up the weekend, the Boston Celtics took on the Charlotte Hornets at home in their first preseason game. Boston was victorious over Charlotte 107-106 but gave fans a lot to consider for the coming season. From Jayson Tatum to Tacko Fall, I’m gonna dive into some takeaways from the night.
Jayson Tatum: The Face of the Celtics?
Jayson Tatum came out roaring last night and totaled 20 points in 23 minutes of action. After his first two seasons in Boston, I was very low on Tatum for a reason he could fix; decision making. Last year, Tatum gained a lot of confidence which is usually a good thing. However, this confidence made him believe that taking long two’s and not passing the ball would work in everyone’s favor. It did not and in turn, contributed to much confusion amongst the team. In this season’s first preseason game, Tatum was taking wise shots by sticking to layups and threes. He looked like a guy that could be the best player on a good team. Look forward to seeing if this play stays consistent and if it’ll cause issues between Tatum and Kemba.
Kemba Walker: Too Passive?
Kemba Walker is a stud and has proven that through 8 years of stellar play in Charlotte. In his first action as a Boston Celtic, Walker seemed to let the guys around him run the offense more than I’d expect. This could simply be due to it being a preseason game and wanting to scout out the rest of his teammates’ playstyles while the lights were bright. If that’s the case I am 100% fine with that move. My only concern is that it could get into Jayson Tatum’s head. Tatum already believes that he is better than he truly is. If Kemba is allowing Tatum to make plays in these big spots, Tatum is going to feel as if he’s the Celtics player who should be taking all the big shots. It’s funny because my issue with Kyrie was that he would be too ball-dominant sometimes and now I want Kemba to emanate a little bit of Kyrie’s play.
Enes Kanter: YIKES!
Many people have criticized Kanter’s playstyle in the past. I guess I just chose to block all the hate out and hope he would be a different player with Boston. If the first preseason game is any indication, the dude hasn’t changed. Kanter has always been regarded as a defensive liability. He made many defensive mistakes in his first game wearing green. The big blunder was consistently leaving the paint wide open. If the big he was defending even inched towards the 3pt line, he’d be right there to follow. This was most noticeable when he gave up an easily avoidable alley-oop to end the first half. Ideally, Brad Stevens will be able to get through to him and turn him into an efficient player on the court.
Gordon Hayward: Confidence
I attended the game in hopes to do a little bit of scouting that you can’t get when watching on TV. The game began with Hayward tossing an alley-oop to Robert Williams. The toss was great, but the defenders being absorbed by Gordo was even better. Beyond that, much of the on-court playcalling was through Hayward. He would notice patterns from the Hornets and capitalize on that defensively. This led to a great steal, but also stopped the Hornets from executing the plays they had planned. Defensively, Gordo will flourish! Offensively, he seems to have no hesitation attacking the rim now. This will lead to great opportunities for easy layups, but also dishing it out to the open man for three. Gordon Hayward is currently my X-Factor for the Celtics success, and I expect it to stay that way.
Grant Williams: Future Celtics Starter
Grant Williams had a game-high plus/minus by being +14 on the game. Williams is a big who can play a traditional power forward or a small-ball center. He comes in at 6’7” but plays tremendously bigger than that. He also had a game-high in rebounds with 9 as well as a steal and a block to add. Think of Grant as Marcus Smart, but a forward. He makes gritty plays and is a force on defense. I believe at some point this season he will become a member of the starting lineup. He fills a great need for the Celtics and will allow for two of Brown/Smart/Hayward to strengthen the second unit.
Carsen Edwards: Lights Out!
Anyone who watched the Summer League saw how electric Edwards was. He’d nail 3 after 3 and beat the defenders with his stop-and-go movements. This was against unproven players with pretty low stakes. However, Edwards stood beside the likes of Kemba, Hayward, and Tatum and still balled. He came in and nailed two threes back to back to get the crowd going and give the C’s some much needed momentum. I figure he’ll jump Wanamaker on the rotation in no time and be a valuable member of the second unit. His type of scoring is exactly what the C’s will need to get the crowd back into it and give them the push they need to close out games.
Tacko Fall: Better than Advertised
Being at the game, I was consistently annoyed with the “We Want Tacko!” chants. It was cute for the first quarter but became incredibly irritating and honestly disrespectful to the guys on the court. When he finally entered the game, the crowd was the loudest it had been all night. Most people, including myself, believed that Tacko would be more of a meme than an NBA player. He came into the game and shut me right up. His sheer height advantage works as a literal advantage for the team. He executed two blocks with little to no effort and had an electric put-back dunk. I believe that he will spend most of the season in the GLeague, but if needed he will serve a valuable role in the NBA.
It isn’t fair to do too much critiquing after 1 preseason game, but when things stand out why not analyze them? The starters seemed to struggle against Charlotte’s starters. This is semi concerning considering the Hornets are many people’s pick to be the worst team in the league. The starters just need a little bit of time to figure out their identity and how they will work together. The bench is going to be really good for Boston. They have energy as well as necessary talent. I’ve mentioned this before, but most importantly, Celtics fans should be excited that they have team people will want to cheer for all season long.
-Brandon Black(Follow @bhblack02)