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Boston blows out the bees to open preseason: 13 Takeaways from Celtics-Hornets

Jaylen Brown led the way over Charlotte in the victory

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

1. Well, that was one heck of start for the Boston Celtics. After a couple of weeks of unwanted drama, the Celtics dominated the Charlotte Hornets to get the preseason started with a blowout victory.

Boston racked up an absurd 41 assists on 48 made baskets. The Celtics also shot 22-of-47 on three-pointers. Overall, it was a dominating effort for Joe Mazzulla’s group in his debut as Celtics head coach.

2. Jaylen Brown got things off to a good start for Boston. He finished with 24 points in 24 minutes. Everything looked pretty smooth and effortless for Brown. This play shows how far Brown has come with his strength. He’s always been quick and explosive, but if he can get a shoulder into a parallel defender even slightly, Brown is gone:

Brown is going to draw a lot of attention from defenses, especially in transition and semi-transition. This is a great read, as Brown notices Nick Richards is up high on the floor, allowing Al Horford to slip in behind. Great lefty dish off the bounce from Brown:

3. We know what Jayson Tatum can do as a scorer. He’s great in all facets as far as finding his own shot. Tatum showed great growth as a passer, but he can grow even more as a playmaker.

One way Boston can make their offense hum is to use Tatum and Jaylen Brown more as cutters. This is a good cut by Tatum, and he draws multiple defenders, which opens up Marcus Smart for the corner three:

Tatum’s other room for growth is as a finisher, especially through contact. He can get downhill with regularity. It’s finishing like this for the and-1 where Tatum can take another leap:

4. Grant Williams is now respected enough as a shooter that defenses are going to try and take that shot away from him. That means Williams has to have a counter beyond just swinging the ball to a teammate. In this one, Williams showed more on-the-move playmaking than we are used to.

This is a nice drive and leave for Noah Vonleh to get the easy dunk:

This was another new look from Williams. He catches and sees the defender off-balance. There’s no hesitation as Williams drives for the lefty finish:

A wing catch right into a pick-and-roll lob? OK Grant! We see you!

5. We mentioned it above, but Boston’s pace was ridiculous in this game. Now, it’s easy to play with great pace in the preseason and early in the regular season. We often see teams start off playing fast and it peters out by the holidays. The key will be keeping it up all season long.

Still, the Celtics generated 84 field goal attempts in a game where they turned it over 23 times. Boston’s pace for this game was 108.5, compared to last season’s 96.6. So, if the game felt fast, that’s because it was!

Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White were a big part of Boston playing so fast. Here’s Brogdon getting it up quickly and into the teeth of the defense before finding Grant Williams for a corner three:

White is used to playing that Spurs pace-and-space style, and he found Al Horford for a transition triple here:

If the stars run the floor, these guards will find them. Great hit-ahead pass by White to Jayson Tatum for the and-1:

6. We mentioned the turnovers earlier. And 23 was a lot of them. If there’s a good sign, they were “good” turnovers for the most part. Guys trying to play fast and find teammates. There were a few sloppy ones, which is to be expected in the first outing of the year. But the unforced sloppiness that became a problem in the playoffs, especially in the Finals, wasn’t really there.

The other challenge was defensive rebounding. Boston’s initial defense was terrific, but Charlotte pulled down 16 offensive boards. That’s part of the challenge with playing small, as the Celtics did quite often. Boston will probably play a decent amount of smallball, especially while Robert Williams is out, so that’s an area to keep an eye on.

7. We’re going to spend the rest of the Takeaways looking at the deeper bench guys. Starting with Sam Hauser is more than fair, as he was excellent. Boston is looking for a shooter with size to replace Danilo Gallinari. If Hauser can play like he did in this one, he’s a lock for that role.

Payton Pritchard does a good job opening up Hauser just enough here, and Hauser lets it fly without hesitation:

8. Noah Vonleh was the first big off the Boston bench. It’s important not to read too much into preseason rotations, but that’s at least a little notable. This was a nice play by Vonleh to understand the clock. Good fake and good balance to beat the buzzer:

9. Mfiondu Kabengele was all over the place, in a good way. He’s a little wild, but he works really hard. That’s the kind of guy you can get behind. This sort of effort is the stuff that fires everyone up:

10. Jake Layman is one of two local kids (Noah Vonleh is the other) fighting for a roster spot. Layman is a little more explosive than he might look. Remember the dunk over Tacko Fall a couple of years ago? Anyway, this is a good rim run for the and-1:

11. J.D. Davison sees the floor better than his college scouting report indicated. In relatively limited action, he tallied four assists. This was a good one, as he completed the difficult lob to Noah Vonleh:

12. Luka Samanic and J.D. Davison are probably going to link up a lot for the Maine Celtics in the G League this year. If Samanic runs the floor like this, Davison will find him:

13. The Celtics are off to a 1-0 preseason start. Next up they’ll host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, October 5 at 7:30 PM ET. It’s possible that game could feature Blake Griffin’s Boston debut, as he’s expected to sign in the next day or so.

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