BOSTON – In a battle of green vs. white Friday night, the Celtics managed to pull out the win. The 2016 Celtics’ open scrimmage was full of highlights, exciting lineup combinations, and of course the first look at prized rookie Jaylen Brown.
Brown looked every bit the dynamic slasher he was in the Vegas summer league and was functioning well at NBA game speed. He unleashed a flurry of slick drives and thunderous dunks that brought the 6,118 fans in attendance to their feet.
It was more of the same for Isaiah Thomas, whose dazzling finishes in the paint have become almost routine at this point. He looked good out there with Al Horford as they played most of the first half together.
The most interesting lineup question was the Marcus Smart-Terry Rozier second unit back court. Danny Ainge said during the game that the second unit had beaten the first unit three straight days in training camp. Watching Rozier and Smart out there together made it easy to see why. Rozier looks just like the player we saw in Vegas, which is a vast departure from the energetic but lost rookie from the spring.
Rozier and Smart switched off play-initiation duties pretty frequently throughout the first half, with the other frequently running off-ball actions with the bigs to get the ball curling across the top of the key. Smart’s shot has been completely restructured this offseason, showing promise that he can be an effective off-ball guard in the second and closing units. Smart went 3-for-5 from deep, showing good form and rhythm on his shot.
One of the most interesting battles was between R.J. Hunter and James Young, who were not put on opposite teams by accident. It’s likely that they, along with Ben Bentil, will be fighting for the final spot on the roster. Although Hunter has a billion-dollar shooting form, everything else continues to be a little too fast for him. Young’s constant movement and impressive athleticism keeps him in the play at all times. But there wasn’t much action from either player to really make a difference in their race to the finish.