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The Celtics lost to the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night 82-80. A super competitive game from the jump, The Boston starting five and bench rotation is starting to come into focus albeit not soon enough to capitalize on the momentum from this past Saturdays win over the Knicks.

Brad Stevens' much discussed approach to positionless basketball is leading to leadership coming from strange places. In each of the Celtics preseason games, someone new every night has emerged as a leader, game changer, or big spark late in the game. Tonight, that distinction goes Jordan Crawford and Kris Humphries.

Crawford, who got the start for Boston, played a team high 31 minutes and chipped in 10 points.

Humphries, in 27 minutes off the bench, added 12 points and 8 rebounds. He and Gerald Wallace both played like they had something to prove in their first visit back to Barclays after being traded to Boston over the summer.

Avery Bradley’s continued relentless defense set the tone early for what we would see out of the Celtics. This team HUSTLED all night. Going to the floor for loose balls, fighting for every offensive and defensive rebound, making the most of second chance opportunities, etc. The Celtics wanted the ball. While missed layups and turn overs were the leading cause the Celtics being down nearly the entire game, it was their hustle on both sides of the ball that kept them within striking distance until the final whistle.

Despite their 1-4 record through the preseason, the Celtics are looking better and better in every game. Roles are starting to be defined, lineups look closer to being set, and the team is starting to find their rhythm.

The Celtics will see the Nets sooner rather than later and it will be a much different nets team. KG and Jason Terry will be factors by the time the Nets come to Boston for regular season play. What we saw tonight out of the Cs was much more than a glimmer of hope- we saw a team that kept the All Grit, No Quit mentality that defined the 2011 and 2012 Celtics and now has the legs and energy to keep it going for four quarters of basketball.

They still have a long way to go in developing a true identity, but the desire is there. This team will be accused of many things, but not working hard for the win won’t be one of them.

Tonight's Box Score

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor

Photo: Bruce Beckett

Padraic O'Connor 10/15/2013 10:39:00 PM Edit
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