The Boston Celtics pick up their first win by defeating the Utah Jazz 97-87 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Brandon Bass led the way for Boston with 20 points and 4 rebounds, as head coach Brad Stevens notched his first career win in the NBA. However, what could've been a blowout for the Celtics turned out to be a thriller, as the game came down to the final minutes.
Boston started 0-5 in 1946, their first season in existence, but will not match that record in 2013. The Celtics finally notched a victory thanks to an incredible 27-8 run in the second quarter. After trailing 16-3 to start the game, the Celtics managed to make a comeback, grabbing a lead early in the second. Rookie point guard Phil Pressey quietly made an impact with 2 points, 3 assists, and 1 turnover off the bench. As Vitor Faverani saw his minutes eliminated, Kelly Olynyk stepped up with an impressive 14 points. The two rookies helped the Celtics to a 25-point lead, but Utah stormed back with a 21-to-3 run to begin the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 6. However, Brad Stevens was able to make the correct decisions down the stretch, holding on for his first career win as an NBA coach.
Lineup changes are "My Favorite Thing"
There were two lineup changes before tonight's game: Jordan Crawford was inserted into the starting lineup and Gerald Wallace came off the bench. During the game, Enes Kanter shred Vitor Faverani in the first quarter, so he was benched for both Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries. Phil Pressey also bought some playing time, making a huge impact in the second period.
The Celtics claim Gerald Wallace came off the bench so he could rest his bruised right knee, but I disagree. Wallace didn't seem happy about it and I think Jordan Crawford got the start because it's clear that Avery Bradley is superior playing at the two-guard. It's also possible that Stevens felt Wallace deserved some discipline for opening up too much to the media.
Fortunately for Wallace, the changes all worked, so he should be happy about it. I thought the combine point play from Crawford and Pressey allowed the Celtics to play a faster half-court offense, which made it easier to get buckets. Wallace was also able to bring more energy in fewer minutes off the bench, snatching 9 rebounds, as well as accumulating 9 points and 3 assists in only 23 minutes of play.
"In a Silent Way" Pressey makes a difference
Don't let the box score fool you; Phil Pressey made a massive impact tonight. Trailing 20-9 late in the first quarter, the rookie guard out of Missouri came in and revitalized the Celtics' energy, helping them grab their first lead by the 10-minute mark of the second quarter. Pressey's liveliness on defense and his natural ability to run the point freed the Celtics to play their fast-paced style. I fully expect him to receive more time on the court as the season progressions.
KO takes "Giant Steps" towards starting lineup
Is "Vitor Fever" over already? Kelly Olynyk completely robbed Vitor Faverani of all his playing time after the first quarter and took advantage of it. KO had 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting, to go along with 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. Even though the rookie power forward still hasn't found his shooting stroke, he has shown exceptional ball skills when going for offensive rebounds. He stays under control and does a good job of finding the blue sky for a basket.
Could we see Kelly Olynyk in the starting lineup soon? Well, it's hard to say. Brandon Bass still has his spot at power forward, and I'm not sure Olynyk can or should start at center, but it's obvious that this team performs better when KO is on the floor. It also speaks volumes that Faverani didn't make an appearance in the game after the first quarter. At the least, he has earned himself a significant increase in playing time.
The Green turn "Kind of Blue" in the fourth
Tommy Heinsohn perfectly captured every Celtics fan's feelings in the fourth quarter by saying, "It's like going to the dentist right now!' Seriously, I felt like I was getting a root canal throughout the final period. After dominating both the second and third quarters, the Celtics managed to end the game the way they started it, lacking energy and spirit. Good thing Brad Stevens pulled the correct strings by inserting Jared Sullinger, Gerald Wallace, and Jordan Crawford back into the lineup. Their presence on the court calmed the C's down, but also gave them energy necessary to close out the game.
"So What" the C's defeated the Jazz?
Some fans may claim that this victory means "nothing" because it was against a terrible opponent in the Utah Jazz, and they almost blew the lead, but think about what it will do for the psyche of this young team to finally get a win. Had the Celtics lost to the Jazz, it's possible that the team would feel demoralized, stunting growth for the future. With a win, Brad Stevens gains the confidence of his team, which can only help the chemistry.
The Boston Celtics begin their second set of back-to-backs this week as they head down to Orlando to face the Magic on Friday night at 7:00 PM. On Saturday, they will match up against the Miami Heat at 7:30 PM.