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Preseason wraps up with a loss: 10 Takeaways from Celtics-Heat

Boston finished the preseason slate with a 2-2 record

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

1. Dennis Schroder got the start with Marcus Smart suspended and Payton Pritchard out with a broken nose. And Schroder did what he’s done for years: He produced. It was a good all-around game for Schroder, as he dropped in 13 points to go along with six assists, four rebounds, three steals and a block in 26 minutes.

After getting his own offense going early, Schroder transitioned to being a playmaker. This is a nice attack in transition. The Heat defense never really gets set and they’re all scrambled as far as matchups go. Schroder gets into the pain and drops it off to Jabari Parker on a well-timed cut:

What’s great about this play is Schroder had gotten blocked at the rim just before the clip starts, and he doesn’t pout. Instead, Schroder chases down Bam Adebayo for the steal:

And here’s some more of that playmaking. Good things happen when the ball hits the paint, and Schroder will bring that to the Celtics in spades. This is a perfect drive-and-kick to Romeo Langford in the corner:

2. The above clip is just one shot Romeo Langford made on a 7-for-9 shooting night, including 4-of-6 on three-pointers. This is the some of the best basketball Langford has played. Both Ime Udoka and Langford talked about how he’s playing with more confidence than ever. That shows up on plays like this:

Attacking a closeout into a pullup from the baseline? Good stuff.

Later, Langford shows his defensive chops by jumping the passing lane for the runout dunk:

3. Preseason shooting has been rough for Josh Richardson. So, it was good to see him get it going a little bit in Miami. This is a confident shot, which shows maybe Richardson is starting to figure things out a little bit:

4. Jayson Tatum looks ready to have a monster season. He’s getting to his shots with relative ease. Jimmy Butler defends this really well. But Tatum is too big, too long and too smooth to be bothered:

Mark Jackson wasn’t on the broadcast, but you could almost hear him saying “Hand down, man down” on this play. Duncan Robinson is a split-second late in challenging Tatum. That’s all the Celtics All-Star needs:

5. Sam Hauser didn’t look great in Summer League. The working theory was that he’d look better in a more structured environment, as opposed to the pickup style Las Vegas often becomes. After a couple of non-descript preseason games, Hauser has come along in the last two outings.

No, Hauser isn’t Duncan Robinson, but there are some comparisons there. They both have a very quick and high release. This is well-defended, but Hauser drills it anyway:

Making standstill threes is probably going to be Hauser’s calling card. Working in the occasional pullup in transition like he does here would be nice to have in the arsenal. And it came after he broke up a Heat 2-on-1 fastbreak:

6. Rapid fire for the rest here…

Ime Udoka said one of the focuses for the Celtics this year was to play and to let him handle the officials. He’s been heard a few times on the broadcasts telling various guys to “Just play!”, as opposed to complaining.

Grant Williams caught Udoka’s ire in this game. After getting called for a questionable offensive foul, Williams started a lengthy dialogue with the official. Miami noticed this and Bam Adebayo got a transition dunk before Williams could get back on defense.

Udoka immediately called timeout. As the broadcast broke away, Udoka could be seen confronting Williams about the play. After the timeout, Williams was on the bench. Postgame, Udoka said he did bench Williams for complaining, “We don’t want our guys complaining to the refs, especially when they are pushing it in transition.”

7. Al Horford was out because he’s still quarantining after a positive COVID test. Robert Williams was a late scratch due to right knee soreness. The Celtics don’t expect either to be a long-term absence. That’s good, because Boston’s big man depth was exposed a little bit.

Grant Williams had his first tough game of the preseason. He just didn’t make much of an impact, despite a fairly good start in the opening minutes. Enes Kanter predictably struggled defensively. Bruno Fernando didn’t show much in limited minutes.

When Grant Williams and Enes Kanter are your third and fourth bigs, you’re probably ok. When they are pressed into being the first and second bigs, it’s not good.

8. Aaron Nesmith was more or less a no-show after having a terrific game against Orlando. It’s starting to seem like Nesmith is the kind of guy who needs consistent minutes and a defined role. That’s fine, as he’s shown he’s capable of handling both.

One other fleeting observation: Nesmith doesn’t seem like a microwave guy who comes in and immediately gets hot. Going back to last season, it feels like Nesmith needs a few shots to find his rhythm. Something to keep in mind, as he’ll probably be coming off the bench a lot this season.

9. Theo Pinson is a great teammate. He’s a hardworking player. It’s impossible to find anyone who doesn’t love having him around. Unfortunately, he’s at best a Two-Way player right now. Given Garrison Mathews fills a need as a shooter, he may stick over Pinson, alongside Sam Hauser. Mathews proved last year he’s NBA material. Pinson is still looking to prove that, and he may not get the chance to do it in Boston.

10. Next time it’s for real. Boston finished the preseason at 2-2. The good news is that they didn’t suffer any major injuries. Payton Pritchard and Robert Williams are a little banged up, but should be good to go opening night. Jaylen Brown and Al Horford both had positive COVID tests, but seem on track to return in fairly short order.

The Takeaways will see you next week for Game 1 of 82 in New York against the Knicks!

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