Celtics Preseason: What We Learned
The Boston Celtics finished 1-3 in their preseason stint. All of the 4 scores from each game looks pretty close, but there were many times that either team was leading by nearly 20 points. The preseason showed us a lot of positives with this team, but also quite a few negatives as well. Let’s get into it.
Gordon Hayward: Not Ready Yet
Hayward averaged 10 points per game in the 3 preseason games he played in. He was incredibly hesitant with the ball in his hand and almost looked like he was nervous. The nerves he displayed made so much sense considering he hadn’t played in a formal game in nearly a year and is coming off a gruesome injury. Hayward will be given an open shot, but instead of taking it he will dribble in a few steps, get pressured by the defense, and pass the ball away. Most likely, a few weeks into the NBA regular season we will see Hayward becoming the offensive player we expect to get. He will easily be taking more of those open shots as it’s the best basketball move for the team. On the contrary, Hayward’s defense is way better than I figured it would be at this point. He looks explosive and as a result is getting some good shot contests and even blocks. The ankle looks healthy, Gordon Hayward just needs to get his mental confidence back.
Jaylen Brown: Offensive Beast
Last season, Jaylen Brown offensively was primarily a spot-up three point shooter and someone who would cut to the rim for an easy layup or dunk. Immediately this preseason, we saw Jaylen show off his new ball handling and playmaking ability. In the first game against Charlotte, Brown took the ball up early on and drew defenders to get an open man open. Even after that, in the first quarter Brown took the ball up and moved around defenders to make a nice looking three. Having Jaylen have the ability to bring the ball up the court is crucial as it will allow Kyrie to play off the ball similar to how he did with Lebron and get great open looks after moving through screens. On top of that, Jaylen looks like he could be the primary scorer for this team. Kyrie, Hayward, and Horford are all in on the system and playing the best way to get the victory. Jaylen as a result will be lightly defended and get so many opportunities to score points for Boston. He’s going to be even more of a stud in his third year.
Jayson Tatum: Took too much Advice from Kobe
Jayson Tatum did not have an impressive looking preseason outside of scoring 13 points in barely over 3 minutes. Much of that impressive 3 minutes was due to Terry running the offense in such a great way. This summer, Jayson Tatum got an immense amount of attention when he worked out with Kobe Bryant. People were shocked that a Laker great would help out a young Celtics player before he would help out any of the Lakers young players. A famous quote that Kobe said to Tatum during the workouts was, “Shoot every time. Pass if you have to. But if not, shoot it.” This advice completely defies what the Celtics are all about. Brad Stevens preaches ball movement and finding the best possible shot. Tatum took far too many awful shots this preseason and missed an absurd majority of them. He shot 33% in the final 3 games and shot 27% in the first preseason game. These shitty shots should not be allowed in the regular season and Brad Stevens needs to hone in to Tatum that it’s god awful basketball.
Kyrie Irving: Headband and Afro
There isn’t much to note on Kyrie here besides his new awesome look that includes a headband and a Kobe-esque afro. He played in the first 2 preseason games and showed that he can distribute the ball and take the backseat if he needs to. Also, Irving showed he still can lead the team and score a shit ton of points. Look for Kyrie to be one of the starting point guards in the NBA All-Star game.
Al Horford: Impressed by Young Guns
Al Horford took a backseat in the 3 preseason games he played. If you don’t know, Al Horford is the backbone to this Celtics team. Defensively, he’s the clear leader. Offensively, Al will be the safest bet to get the ball in the hoop if they need him to. Al Horford is 32 years old and really wants that first NBA championship.
Terry Rozier: Starting Point Guard
Terry Rozier won’t start this year for the Celtics barring injury. However, Scary Terry made every defender look silly when he was on the court this preseason. His playmaking ability clearly improved in the offseason and his shot has always been on point. He’s weaving through the defense more than ever and converting at a higher rate than I would expect. This being his contract year, Rozier is going to be so amazing this season.
Marcus Smart: Would take a Bullet for a Teammate
I love Marcus Smart in every single way. If you listen to his post-game interviews, he’s a real genuine dude who just wants to do the best for his team. On the court, don’t fuck with Marcus Smart or anybody on his team. In the final preseason game, Aron Baynes and JR Smith got into a bit of a scuffle under the basket. Based on prior beef and being ride or die, Smart came storming in and came after Smith. Terry and Tatum had to bring Smart to the ground so he wouldn’t murder JR Smith. As a result, Smart was fined 25K and Smith was fined 15K. No suspensions were given out. Smart’s energy is what will elevate this Celtics team when they need a little boost this season.
Robert Williams: He’s Ready
There was much speculation as to how Robert Williams would perform for the Celtics. This preseason is an indication that Williams is ready to make an impact on this team. In their only win, he had the game saving block at the very end. He then led the ball up to Guerschon Yabusele and the Celtics got the win. His prowess around the rim is what he is going be succeeding in most. If he plays to his full potential, he could move ahead of Daniel Theis in the Celtics rotation.
Guerschon Yabusele: Get Ready for the Dancing Bear
Guerschon Yabusele has been dubbed “the Dancing Bear” and was mainly just a funny guy occasionally on the bench last season. For this year, he could actually be a vital piece to the end of the rotation. He plays in your face defense and his big body make him really tough to stop around the basket. He can hit the occasional 3 as well meaning the defense can’t leave him open. I’m pumped to see what he can do for this Celtics team.
There are many guys I didn’t mention but still played well this preseason. Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, and Semi Ojeleye are the three guys I left out who will be playing in nearly all upcoming regular season games this year. Each of those guys are defensively oriented with Morris standing out with a great shot. This team may have gone 1-3 this preseason, but so many positives are taken away that I have no concerns for the upcoming season. The Celtics are going to take the Eastern Conference by storm starting next Tuesday on opening night against Philly.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)
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