If you told Danny Ainge ten years ago that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would be playing together in the Garden, he would have been ecstatic. But after missing out on KD in the 2008 NBA Draft, failing to court him in free agency in 2016, and then watching Kyrie leave in free agency after trading for him, the duo’s first game together in Boston turns out to be a 113-89 loss in a preseason finale. Durant finished with 25 points in 27 minutes and Irving chipped in with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The strategy in the offseason seemed to be adding more shooting to the roster including drafting first round picks Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard. So far, that hasn’t exactly materialized. After making just 11-of-39 (28.2%) in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, the Celtics shot even worse on their home floor, 8-for-45. For the game and from all over the floor, Boston shot a dismal 32-of-92.
Even considering the short training camp and preseason qualifiers, this could be a team that struggles to score when the regular season kicks off on December 23rd when the team hosts the Milwaukee Bucks. Last season, Boston boasted nearly four 20-point scorers in their starting lineup. With Gordon Hayward in Charlotte and Kemba Walker aiming for a January return after a stem cell injection in his troublesome knee, much of that offensive load will be shouldered by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and they’ll need to be more efficient than they were tonight. The Celtics cornerstones combined for 35 points on 12-for-32 from the field including 3-for-16 from behind the arc.
As a team, the Celtics only mustered 17 assists with a whopping 22 turnovers.
For the second straight game, Javonte Green got another start at shooting guard (0 points, 4 rebounds). After missing the first exhibition game with a sore back, Daniel Theis returned for 22 minutes, scored 5 points, and grabbed 9 rebounds. Tristan Thompson remained out nursing a hamstring injury. Tacko Fall missed the game with eye irritation (unrelated to how ugly this game was).
The Celtics fill face this same Nets team in an exactly a week in a Christmas Day tip starting at 5 pm EST.