Celtics basketball finally returned tonight in Orlando at the Visa Athletic Center, in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Under camp conditions the Boston Celtics returned to the first competitive action in four months due to COVID-19. With Boston “at home” vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder the sideline video screens resounded with the familiar “Bleed Green” mantra.
With Kemba Walker sidelined and expected to go live tomorrow with the rest of the team at practice, Marcus Smart filled the vacant starting PG role. Jaylen Brown got the team rolling with an excellent turnaround bassline jumper. Jayson Tatum then found Gordon Hayward cutting aggressively for a two-handed dunk.
securing the first basket of the game pic.twitter.com/liL0WSnYGF— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 24, 2020
Steven Adams started strong early on 5-7, taking advantage of the smaller Celtics front court as he bullied into the key. Semi Ojeleye, Brad Wanamaker, Enes Kanter were the first Celtics off the bench. However, it was the Celtics who looked rustier early on as OKC took a 21-17 lead at the quarter.
In a less than memorable start to the 2nd quarter, the Celtics kept tabs with OKC trading baskets. Daniel Theis returned to the lineup and instantly clicked with Gordon Hayward, who found the big man in the pick and roll.
Boston showed a ton of zone D to end the second quarter and as Brian Scalabrine noted in the telecast, Brad Stevens might be prepping the team to face the likes of Giannis and the Bucks down the line.
OKC’s starters were the story of the half though, as perpetual thorns in the side of the Celtics Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a solid showing. Steven Adams had 17 points alone in the first half as Thunder coach Billy Donovan had his team looking like they had being playing together for more than two weeks.
Prior to the game Brad Stevens noted “Most likely you won’t see any of the starters after halftime, but we’ll see how it goes”. The second half opened for the Celtics with Carsen Edwards, Javonte Green, Grant Williams, Robert Williams and Tremont Waters. With no alpha scorer in the lineup, it would be scoring by committee. Early in the first half Javonte Green flashed into the key getting downhill and attacking the OKC bucket.
Grant Williams looked good as he stepped into a three pointer and a play later Tremont Waters flashed a sublime pass to Grant for a layin. The Celtics bench did a decent job keeping pace with a mix of rotation and end of the bench Thunder players. Waters and co. would get an extended run in the second half and looked to make the most of it.
Three quarters in, the Celtics would trail 71-61 and it would be more of the same in the final stanza as the Celtics played from behind whilst not shooting all that well. Boston would go 5-24 from three to shoot just 44% on the game.
Enes Kanter 11pts, 10 rebs would lead the Celtics mopping up in garbage time, Jaylen Brown would have 9 pts in 16 first half minutes, Gordon Hayward added 7 points and Daniel Theis added 8pts on 4-5 shooting. Marcus Smart had 8 pts, 3 stls and 3 asts, while Jayson Tatum had a forgettable shooting night with just 3 pts on 1-6 from the field and 4 rbs, 2 asts and 2 stls. The Celtics next face the Pheonix Suns on Sunday 26th of July in scrimmage # 2.