The starters looked great, the reserves almost blew the game, but Shane Larkin showed out and the Celtics stood tall. The preseason is over guys, and Kyrie still hasn’t lost a Celtic!
The real takeaway here is the Celtics didn’t get injured, the team showed promise on both ends, and we’re on to Cleveland.
The Celtics got off to a hot shooting start going 4-4 from three and going up 14-7 early. Irving seemed a lot more confident in where to pick his spots and was not as hesitant in attacking offensively. With Aron Baynes out for the night the Celtics maintained playing small for a majority of the 1st quarter, brining in Marcus Morris for Jayson Tatum to get his first minutes of the preseason. One person who did benefit from the Celtics going small was forgotten big man Dwight Howard who had 8 quick first quarter points. As the reserves started to file in, the Hornets began to chip get the offense on track and maintained pace with the Celtics behind Malik Monk and Cody Zeller. Marcus Morris seemed a little out of sorts playing his first minute as a Celtic. The rotations were a little slower, and the offensive didn’t feel natural for him. Regardless, the Celtics finished off the 1st quarter up 24-20.
Oh, Guerschon Yabusele also finished the quarter and was called for two travels in the span of two minutes. Can the refs please de-emphasize that call? It’s getting a little excessive now.
The second quarter started off with Rozier-Smart-Tatum-Hayward-Yabusele. Yabusele continues to look out of sync offensivley with this teammates, he misread two pick and rolls in which he was open with a path to the rim. The Hornets took advantage of the stagnant C’s start and tied the game up 24 behind Malik Monk. The second unit was able to get back on track with the help of Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Rozier is continuing his shooting tear hitting his first two shots, and Smart mixed in a nice floater and sweet find under the hoop to Hayward through a post-up. Mid-way through the second quarter, Irving, Horford, and Tatum checked in a lineup where Irving was used primarily off-ball. One guy who continues to stick out defensively is Tatum, he just always has an idea of where to go and has been a pleasantly surprising rebounder.
After a bit of a back and forth, the Celtics really started to get it going near the end of the second quarter behind some great defense and impressive passing by Irving. The Celtics look fast on both ends of the court, and have a Warriors-like ability to thrive in chaos situations. The push put Boston up 51-38 and with the initial starters plus Marcus Morris on the court, the Celtics were able to push the lead to 18 highlighted by some ridiculous plays by Kyrie Irving.
I mean... damn.
Kyrie looks good in green. pic.twitter.com/ZEg2WzrGbo— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) October 12, 2017
The second half began with the same starters on both ends. Stevens did have a new wrinkle to plan by opting to put Brown on the shifty Kemba Walker to give him some reps against one’s. Offensively, the Celtics continued to tear up the Hornets defense. They easily penetrated, generated open looks and continued to hit their mostly uncontested three’s. For whatever reason, the Hornets continued to play two bigs on the court with Kaminsky and Howard despite Boston’s versatility on the floor. The Celtics took full advantage.
By the time Irving existed the game near the end of the 3rd, The Celtics were sitting pretty with a 19 point lead.
The one shaky spot for the Celtics was Gordon Hayward. The numbers didn’t look horrible, (13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, +9 in 30 minutes), but he still continues to look uncomfortable on the offensive end. It’s possible that the individual defenders of the Hornets were part of the reason, but he mostly looks a little uneasy on his role offensively, and isn’t being the same aggressive player we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in Utah. This shouldn’t be a problem with more reps and it didn’t stop from being a positive on both ends on the court. But it goes to show that even when everything is clicking, this team is still very dangerous.