1. Jayson Tatum’s shot selection looks much improved. He’s either driving the ball or taking open three-pointers. After the game he said he won’t stop taking mid-range shots and that Kobe Bryant didn’t teach him bad habits. But whether it is conscious or not, Tatum looks like he’s taking better shots.
He just makes it look so easy pic.twitter.com/Tx26Ks89U3— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 11, 2019
2. Brad Stevens and multiple Celtics said that Marcus Smart’s shooting helped open up the floor for everyone else. Smart improved to 36.4% from behind the arc last season and against Orlando he knocked down 4-of-6 from three. After the game, Smart said the improvement is validation of all the hard work he’s put in as a shooter.
3. Daniel Theis drew the start at center and the defense was much better. The Celtics said that having five guys who regularly played together last season made a huge difference on that end of the floor. While far from a perfect option, especially against bigger centers, Theis may be the best option Boston has on a lot of nights.
4. Gordon Hayward played another strong all-around game with nine points, four rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes. Hayward was also solid defensively against Aaron Gordon, as he helped hold Gordon to just 1-of-14 shooting. Brad Stevens says he looks confident, which holds true after seeing Hayward drive the ball into traffic on a regular basis. And he got up for this dunk on a play that he struggled to finish last season:
5. Jaylen Brown showed off some of his new ballhandling ability, as he had several successful drives to the basket. It was another good effort from Brown, who looks poised to have a breakout season. The best of the night was this tricky handle in transition:
6. Kemba Walker missed the game due to some knee soreness that popped up following shootaround. Both Stevens and Walker said it’s nothing they are concerned with. Walker’s former coach Steve Clifford is a big fan of the Celtics new point guard:
More from Magic coach Steve Clifford on Kemba Walker: "He's all about the team. He wants the team to win. Not about himself. He'll do great in Boston, because he's a winner. He wants to be there. Wants the ball. Wants the big shot. He's happy to be basically back home."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) October 11, 2019
7. Enes Kanter struggled to score, as he shot just 1-of-7 from the field. But Kanter was solid on the boards with eight rebounds, including four on the offensive glass. Having a player who can create second chances through offensive rebounding is something the Celtics have lacked for years and can help the team find offense on those nights when shots aren’t falling. Kanter’s defense was also decent against the Magic, which will be watched all season long.
8. Grant Williams is going to be a rotation player from day one. His sense of where to be and when on defense is off the charts for a rookie. And he can score around the basket, while also flashing a solid outside shot. Williams will be up and down like all rookies, but he’s someone Stevens will be able to count on right away.
9. Speaking of rookies, Stevens said after the game: “The front office did a great job in the draft. All of those guys can really play. They’re going to be players in this league for a long time.” Romeo Langford made his Celtics debut and looked athletic, if a little unsure at times. Considering it was his first game action in about seven months, that was to be expected.
10. Boston’s defense was good from the tip. They were up 35-11 and held the Magic to just 4-of-20 from the floor in the opening period. Orlando didn’t score until the game was nearly four minutes old. Multiple Magic players commented on the Celtics length and switchability on defense as being a problem for them. If Boston is going to be more than a “one and done” playoff team, the defense will need to remain as solid as it has been over the last several years.