The new-look Boston Celtics kicked off the preseason with a win over the Charlotte Hornets 94-82. Brad Stevens called on Aron Baynes and Jaylen Brown to join presumed mainstays Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving in the starting lineup. With Marcus Morris still away from the club while his trial continues, Boston went with a group that could be used against bigger lineups this year.
There were some early misfires, as was to be expected for a group that has only been together about a week, but overall the results were encouraging. The ball movement was excellent, minus some over-passing, and that helped get several easy looks. Stevens’ system is heavily predicated on ball and player movement, and the Celtics were able to execute it well. Horford took on the role of facilitator for most of the first unit’s time together and found both Hayward and Irving several times. The Celtics big man finished with seven points, six rebounds and four assists in just 16 minutes.
Irving scored nine points and Hayward added five. Brown scored six, including a highlight finger-roll and a loud dunk. Brown also drew the difficult defensive matchup of Nicolas Batum and held his own. Baynes may have been the most impressive of all, as he scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.
When Boston went to the bench, Marcus Smart came in and hit 3 of 7 from behind the arc and did some typical Marcus Smart things. Terry Rozier added seven more, while first-round pick Jayson Tatum hit for nine points in his Celtics debut.
Debuts were a major theme, as Daniel Theis came off the bench and played terrific basketball with 12 points and seven rebounds. Abdel Nader added 10 points. Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele were both very active during their runs, if not always productive.
But given that this is the preseason, you can’t read too much into things, and it is best to keep an open mind and have a bit of a lighthearted approach. That said, Tommy Heinsohn said the most Tommy Heinsohn thing of all time:
Tommy Heinsohn's best call. Ever. pic.twitter.com/1e7TDJilft— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) October 3, 2017
Just a reminder that it is preseason for everyone! The Celtics next play on Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at 7:00 PM EST.
Kyrie Irving speaks with the media following the Celtics’ 94-82 win- Courtesy of CLNS Media