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Celtics go out with a whimper 113-102 in preseason finale against the Cavs

The Celtics, missing Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, followed up their last preseason embarrassment with more embarrassment.

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night. The Cavaliers won 113-102.

The Good:

  • Al Horford looked like his usual self, making the right pass, defending well and maintaining composure when faced with adversity. He finished with 10 points, 2 rebounds and 7 assists in 21 minutes
  • Marcus Morris showed off how important it is to have such a deep team, especially for a team looking to be playing in June. He shot the ball well, defended adequately, He finished with 17 points on 41% shooting.
  • Terry Rozier III (17 points) looked comfortable back in the starting role for the second game in a row. Although he shot poorly, he didn’t hinder the offense, and he was aggressive when needed. I don’t recall seeing him force the issue on more than a couple of occasions, if at all. Tonight was the first night that Terry Rozier’s father has ever seen him play. Although the team disappointed, Rozier put on a nice show for his father.
  • Jaylen Brown (8 points) is another player who shot poorly, but he played solid defense to make up for it. Additionally, in the second quarter particularly, Brown was pretty aggressive. That stretch included this (rare) highlight:
  • I’m struggling to find content to fill up bullet points.
  • Jayson Tatum looked kinda better on offense in the second half.
  • Guerschon Yabusele and Robert Williams III continue to be solid. They’re making a good case to see minutes at some point this season, whether that’s by necessity or opportunity.
  • Marcus Georges-Hunt, recently signed, did a great job in limited minutes, finishing with 7 points on 67% shooting in 12 minutes.
  • Preseason is finally over.

The Bad:

  • Everything else.
  • The overall team defense continues to look nothing like the league-leading defense of yesteryear. Opponents have had a wide-open red carpet right to the rim, especially on possessions when Aron Baynes is either on the bench or guarding a stretch big.
  • Jayson Tatum, in particular, has had horrible feet on defense. Compounded with his reliance on long 2-point jumpshots so far in the preseason, he’s seen better, more efficient days as a member of the Celtics.
  • Sam Dekker turned Tatum’s ankles into du- oh, sorry, my computer’s dying.
  • Cleveland played without Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, David Nwaba, George Hill and Tristan Thompson. The Celtics still got washed. The Cavaliers didn’t play their “starters” in the second half. The Celtics still got washed.
  • Collin Sexton (13 points, 67%) and Ante Zizic (20 points, 5 rebounds, 86%), two picks that originally belonged to the Celtics one way or another, played really well for Cleveland.
  • The Cavs have led the Celtics for 8 straight quarters now between their last two games.
  • “Celtics doing a lot of 1-on-1 play. Not a lot of team ball” - Cavaliers broadcast commentator.
  • This list could be longer, but I’m giving up.

The Ugly:

  • With 3:38 left in the first quarter, J.R. Smith and Aron Baynes got tangled up in a mismatch that led to a scuffle that was escalated by Smith shoving Baynes. Marcus Smart, team enforcer, leaped out of nowhere to hit Smith in the back of the head and proceeded to square up on (basically) the entirety of the city of Cleveland. It took Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier, two fully grown and large adult men, to tackle Smart to the ground before he did something that he would have regretted further (it could have been bad).
  • No, seriously, Marcus Smart is a tank.
  • J.R. Smith and Aron Baynes received a double foul for the incident, and Smith received an additional technical foul for the shove that started the scuffle. Smart received a technical and an ejection for his role in escalating the situation, an ejection that was warranted, all things considered.
NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics now have 9 days until they open the regular season against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, October 16th. If they look anything like they have for a majority of their preseason slate, that won’t be a great night. If they use the next week of practice efficiently and productively, perhaps they’ll turn things around and start the season strong.

For right now, though, the Celtics finish the preseason with a 1-3 record.

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