The Boston Celtics recently opened up their season at home with their first two games of the preseason as they fell short to the Toronto Raptors 97-89 and New York Knicks 103-102.
Preseason games are a good chance to see the progress a team has made over the summer as well as gain a little insight on what to improve on and what to expect for the following games. These two games showed quite a lot. For example, Kris Humphries showed us that he has, in fact, been working on his jump shot over the summer and Jared Sullinger is showing that his injury isn’t holding him back anymore as he is performing pretty well so far.
Head coach Brad Stevens at this point is really trying to see who can play well together and what lineup to go with. Steven’s is new to the NBA though, and these games are good experiences for him to get a feel of being an NBA coach.
“Really, really different just because it’s a 48-minute game, something to get used to because of the timeouts. It’s a little unique and different,” Stevens said. There’s eight more minutes [than college] and a lot more possessions because of the 24-second shot clock. Hopefully I’ll get used to it in seven games, but hopefully it doesn’t last much longer than that.”
We’re starting to see the bigger guys like Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Gerald Wallace stepping up. Wallace was the leading scoring for the Celtics game against the Raptors, scoring 16 points while Olynyk and Sullinger proved their young talent off the bench. Kris Humphries was taken out of the starting lineup following the Raptors game and we saw Wallace and Jared Sullinger stepping up to start. Sullinger, 21 and Olynyk, 22, are clear examples of this team’s young talent.
The Celtics came out a little slow in the first game and even had as much as a 23-point deficit in the second game against the Knicks. But there were many exciting standouts from the Knicks game.
Undrafted free agent rookies Chris Babb and Phil Pressey surely made their impression against the Knicks. Babb having only played eight minutes made his mark off the bench scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, all of them three-pointers, helping the C’s make a comeback in the second half. Pressey also proved himself: he had a team-high 13 points and seven assists. Seeing stats from players like this reassures my feelings about this young team. There is much talent and so much room for improvement and I have no doubt that this team can compete.
Another exciting guy to watch was Vitor Faverani who came out dunking, nailing 3-pointers, and exciting us all in the first half in the Knicks game. Noted before the preseason play started, he was said to play very physical, and he showed that against the Knicks. This is a guy I had much anticipation about and he really did not disappoint. The Brazilian rookie did not have much to say after the game other than “I’m very, very happy, because the dunks can help my teammates, I can show the coach I can play in the NBA.” Yes, Vitor, dunks do help your teammates. Please keep it up!
Avery Bradley was a little shaken up by the Knicks defense as he somewhat struggled at the point guard position. He has noted before that he does not want to team to rely on him to bring up the ball and initiate the offense all on his own…like Rajon Rondo would normally do. Overall though, he did maintain composure, contributing 10 points and hitting a couple three pointers.
Coming up next for the Celtics, the team will back-to-back travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers and then face the Knicks again at home. I’m excited to see what else Stevens has in store for this team and the different combinations that he can throw together to continue forward in the preseason. This is only the preseason though, and this team is in the midst of rebuilding. I would not make too many judgments this early but what I can say is that this is a team to keep a close eye on down the road.