The Celtics are halfway through their penultimate preseason game against the New York Knicks. Boston currently holds a 78-60 lead over the Knicks, looking like a well-oiled machine, despite this being the second time that the team’s top-six has played together.
Get ready for some halftime hot takes, buddy.
Is the Horford-less starting lineup fraudulent?
Tonight marked the first time that Al Horford has ever come off of the bench for the Cs. He looked on as a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kristaps Porzingis opened things up against the Knicks’ backups.
Five minutes into the game, the starters found themselves down by as many points to New York’s version of the “Bus One Boys.” Really? Is that acceptable in a debut??
Fortunately, they were able to open up a three-point lead by the time Horford checked into the game with just over six minutes to play in the first quarter. Boston’s elder-statesman checked in and scored a quick five points for the Cs.
To be honest, the “Horford off the bench” aspect of the lineup experiment went better than I’d expected. His steady game doesn’t exactly scream energy, but the 37-year-old proved to be a bit of a sparkplug in his bench debut.
Ultimately, the starting lineup is going to change quite a bit throughout the season, according to head coach Joe Mazzulla. He explained that matchups will have a lot to do with who fills out Boston’s starting five over the course of the 2023-24 campaign.
I suppose it really doesn’t matter what I thought after the first six minutes of this game because the Celtics have just relentlessly pounded the Knicks offensively, pouring in a whopping 78 first-half points.
Kristaps Porzingis might be an MVP candidate
If you were to bet the big Latvian to take home the NBA’s MVP award, then you’d be getting 1,300/1 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook. Porzingis has carried over his impressive preseason play to yet another matchup, this time against the team that drafted him.
He came out firing, scoring an efficient 10 first-quarter points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. The former Knick finished the half with 13 total points, five rebounds, one steal, and one block. He was everywhere.
The aggressiveness that Cs fans have gotten to see from Porzingis so far should excite them. With the embarrassment of riches that the team is able to field each night, he should have the easiest time scoring of his entire career. Anytime he’s taken initiative in the preseason, he’s looked comfortable and dominant.
It’s great to see that he’s carrying over what was a career-season for him with the Washington Wizards last year.
Jayson Tatum is looking like the MVP candidate he should be
Meanwhile, if you wanted to take Tatum to win the MVP, DraftKings Sportsbook would give you just 8/1 odds. It’s a scenario that the general public believes to be a bit more realistic.
After a lackluster preseason debut against the Philadelphia 76ers last Sunday, Tatum is looking like himself again against the Knicks. Boston’s No. 0 has looked like a man possessed, pouring in 23 points to go along with five rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block. Much like Porzingis — he was everywhere, but more.
Even though we all know Tatum is going to be himself, regardless of how he starts the season, it’s always nice to be reminded how great he is as soon as possible. There’s no reason why he can’t win the MVP this season and become the first Celtic since Larry Bird to do so. He’s great, the team is great, there should be great things in store for the upcoming season.
Joe Mazzulla is a mad scientist
So, this one will be quick.
The Celtics broke out the full-court press in this half and it kinda worked. They frazzled the Knicks’ reserves and looked like a cohesive unit as they caused some chaos.
Celtics full court press leads to Pritchard 3 pic.twitter.com/VnerM3WyRI— Nik☘️ (@__Kingnik) October 18, 2023
If I was alive in the 90s, I’d be having flashbacks to when Rick Pitino was at the helm.