1. At his introductory press conference as new Celtics head coach, Ime Udoka poked fun at Brad Stevens and Boston’s lack of ball movement the previous season. The jokes haven’t stopped, but more importantly, neither has the emphasis on ball and player movement. The first basket of the preseason is a good example.
Marcus Smart could take this shot, but he’s the point guard now. It’s his job to get others going:
When the ball and players move, good things happen. Especially when that involves the ball hitting the paint and side-to-side actions:
2. Jaylen Brown acknowledged postgame that his wrist still isn’t perfect. He said at times it was bothering him, but that he’s making progress and overall feels great. It didn’t seem to impact his jumper much. You can’t go under on Brown anymore or he’ll bury you:
3. A focus area for Jayson Tatum is playing stronger around the basket and becoming a better finisher. In addition, he hopes to draw more free throws. Five free throw attempts on a night with partial workload is a good start. Even more impressive was Tatum’s finishing.
Tom Hanks had a better chance of surviving his island in Castaway without help than rookie wing Franz Wagner had against Tatum:
As far as strong finishes go, they don’t come stronger than this:
If Udoka is going to play Tatum and Brown at the 2 and 3, which he says he likes, they have a size advantage over a lot of defenders. This is a good example here. Just like the previous play, R.J. Hampton had no chance here:
4. After a year spent watching first and second-year players get most of the minutes off Boston’s bench, it was a little jarring to see veterans Al Horford, Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson as the first three players off the pine. Richardson struggled quite a bit, but Horford and Schroder showed they still have some of that chemistry from their Atlanta Hawks days:
5. Robert Williams got the start. Don’t let the 0-for-7 from the field shock you too much. Williams took a lot of jumpers. They didn’t go down, but the shot looked smooth and the confidence was there.
Where Williams made a difference was on defense. With him at the 5, Boston was back to their “switch everything” defense. That means Williams has to hold his own against guards, which he’s more than capable of.
Here’s two examples of Williams handling his assignment. E’Twaun Moore has been around for a long time. He probably hasn’t had many step-back jumpers blocked:
Jalen Suggs hasn’t been around very long, but he probably hasn’t had many jumpers blocked either:
Prediction time: If Robert Williams stays healthy, and the Celtics play this style of defense, he’ll lead the NBA in blocked jump-shots by a wide margin.
6. Ime Udoka said postgame that Boston’s bigs have the greenlight to lead fastbreaks. Here’s a noticeably slimmed-down Grant Williams ripping and running off the boards, which leads to Jaylen Brown tossing the lob to Jayson Tatum:
7. While it’s nice to have the vets around, the Celtics kids are going to play a big part in this team’s success. We said we wanted to see Payton Pritchard improve his off-the-dribble pullup jumper. Here’s a good sign it’s coming along:
8. As Boston mounted a fourth quarter comeback, the kids were right in the middle of it. Here’s Pritchard with a nice hit-ahead pass to find Aaron Nesmith for three:
9. Good to see Pritchard hasn’t lost his nose for the ball. He digs out the offensive rebound and finds Nesmith again:
10. After a nightmarish string of injuries to open his career, we’re all hoping for big things for Romeo Langford. Hopefully this game-winner is a sign of good things to come: