The Boston Celtics were defeated by the Brooklyn Nets 82-80 in preseason play at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Kevin Garnett was inactive for the Nets, but Paul Pierce played his first game against the Celtics. And man, it was strange to see.
Well, that was awkward
Let's start with the obvious: How weird was it seeing Paul Pierce wearing black and white? It's almost like I had the color turned off on my television; or a green monster sucked all the color out of Pierce's jersey. (Some of you would argue that Danny Ainge is a monster for trading him.) I thought I already adjusted to seeing Pierce as a Net, but it was even more surreal seeing him play against the Celtics. This will take some getting used to.
8:40pm, October 15, 2013. Paul Pierce scores against the Celtics. Earth continues to rotate.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) October 16, 2013
If you're still rooting for Paul Pierce (how can't you?), then you were probably satisfied with his performance tonight. The Truth came out and scored only 8 points on a subpar 1-of-6 shooting, but he made his impact with 10 rebounds and 5 assists. He displayed excellent chemistry with center Brook Lopez, who unfortunately shredded the Celtics for 20 points. Both Jared Sullinger and Kris Humphries had a hard time handling him defensively. Sullinger struggled, shooting 2-of-6 for 6 points. He somehow put up a goose egg with zero rebounds as well. Avery Bradley surprisingly led the C's in boards with 9. He also tacked on 7 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Not enough can be said about AB's tenacious play. He hustled all over the floor for his rebounds and steals. What a performance. For the Celtics, turnovers were a problem since they had a preseason-high 21. The majority of the passes were due to being unselfish to a fault, but this is something they'll need to fix. Boston led 63-62 at the beginning of the fourth quarter but the Nets' backups kept things competitive in the fourth, taking a six point lead at one point. However, two Courtney Lee three-pointers tied the game 80-80 with one-minute to go. After two free throws by the Nets, the Celtics were unable to take the lead back as the Nets won, 82-80.
Space it, pass it, shoot it
Repeat the sub-title after me, because that is the style of basketball that Brad Stevens wants to see from his team. The Celtics did a wonderful job spacing the floor to stretch the defense. Using screens and pick-and-rolls, almost every lineup gave themselves a number of open shots, even though they weren't able to knock them down. The Celtics shot a disappointing 35.6 percent from the floor despite having so many open looks. I'm sure Stevens will ignore the shooting numbers and instead focus on how well the Celtics were able to get themselves open for shots in the half court and in transition. Yes, turnovers were an issue, but out of 31 made field goals, an impressive 20 were assisted. Despite the lack of success shooting, the Celts moved well offensively and I am encouraged by the progression of the offense.
The battle of the guards
Jordan Crawford received the start over Courtney Lee and played fairly well, with 10 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 5 turnovers. The turnovers are reason for concern, but there was more good than bad tonight. However, Crawford did play subpar defensively, which is where Courtney Lee clearly has the edge. Lee had 3 steals, hustled hard on every possession, and played great man-to-man defense. Both players spent extended minutes on the floor together in the fourth quarter but Lee still couldn't get his scoring going...until late. For the game he shot a lackluster 4-of-13 for 14 points, but two late three-pointers brought the Celtics back into the game. If Lee somehow found his stroke late in the game, then he could take back the starting job, but Crawford's ability as a point guard continues to give him the edge.
How about the former Nets?
I'm sure Nets fans were ecstatic to see fan favorites Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries back in the Barclays Center. Eh, maybe not. Anyway, I thought both players performed very well. As always, Hump and Crash hustled hard and made difference-making plays. Humphries displayed his new jump shot once again and shot 4-of-6 from the field for 12 points. He also snatched 8 rebounds, 3 offensive, and could've had more had the ball bounced a little bit differently. He struggled to defense Brook Lopez, which should come as no surprise considering the size mismatch, but I was encouraged by his willingness to close-out on the perimeter and help from the weak side. Wallace's numbers aren't nearly as good, since he shot only 2-of-9 for 2 points, but his 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal made a difference when he was on the court.
The Boston Celtics travel to Canada to face off against the Toronto Raptors at 7 P.M. on Wednesday night. This will be the Celtics' sixth preseason game, and their second back-to-back, as they look to pick up their second win.