HEARTBREAK IN BOSTON! - Celtics Lose to Raptors 97-89

With the nation seemingly celebrating Dylan McDermott's return to network TV (or maybe watching tonight's very exciting, though ultimately disappointing Red Sox game) it's understandable how Boston might've missed out on what ended up being a fairly entertaining exhibition game. Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while newcomer Gerald Wallace did his best to keep the Celtics in the game off the bench by scoring 16 points in 26 minutes of action. While the Celtics battled throughout the game, the Raptors seemed to pull away when it mattered most - outscoring Brad Stevens' new look team 22-16 in the 4th quarter.

The Basics

Though Brad Stevens said not to focus too much on who plays where, I thought it was of note that Bradley, Lee, Green, Bass and Humprhies started the game with Olynyk, Wallace and Jamal Crawford all checking in around the 5:40 mark (and Sullinger at about 5:20).

The Good:

Jared Sullinger. Really no other way to put it, Jared Sullinger was a beast: Scoring 16 points, to go alongside 6 rebounds and 5 assists in just 20 minuts. His extra, let's call it girth, actually seemed to help him out - looking really, really strong on the interior - converting quite a few very difficult baskets near the hoop. Additionally, Sullinger had quite a bunch of very intelligent passes that led to easy baskets for the Celtics - a bit of a theme for the Celtics in the half court. On the defensive end, Sully picked up where left off: Making the right decisions, and always being in the right spot. Seems like a lock for a starting spot come opening night.

Kelly Olynyk. Whether he can keep this level a play up or not when the game gets faster can be debated, but what can't be debated is his basketball intelligence. Olynyk, who led the team in assists with 5 (including 4 in his first 12 minutes) made a hand full of really great passes - including a hesitation pass at the elbow of the 3 point line to the corner to Avery Bradley, and a terrific pass from the free throw line to Jared Sullinger in the paint - and seemed to really want to get out in transition. Noticably getting the ball out of his hands quickly on rebounds/loose ball, and running the floor end to end. Very encouraging stuff out of the young fella, who looks like he could be a joy to watch this coming season.

Gerald Wallace. While he was active on defense I was most encouraged by what he did on the offensive end - very eager to get out in transition, even successfully running a few fast breaks (including a really nice no look pass to a streaking Olynyk). In the half court he made a few nice cuts to get him some open looks. I found his 'Offense wasn't my role in Brooklyn' comments interesting, and I'm hoping his play tonight (16 points on 6 for 10 shooting) and getting away from the overall incompetence that is PJ Carleisemo could lead to a bit of an offensive resurgence for Crash.

Avery Bradley. It seemed like a throw away comment by a sideline reporter early, but Abby Chin (taking Greg Dickerson's) role noted that Bradley was fairly candid about his inability to play the point guard last season, and how he wouldn't let it effect his confidence this season. So far, so good. Bradley looked anything but timid; both attacking the rim and shooting without hesitation. What I found to be encouraging was Bradley immediately shooting (and hitting) a corner 3 one play after airballing a mid range jump shot. Confidence is key. That's what my mom always said, and now look at me: I'm writing recaps for CelticsLife. His stat line (5 for 16 from the field) was certainly not indicative of his play.

The Bad:

Brandon Bass. Seemed like, especially in the first half, that this team struggled when he was on the court. Humphries and Bass (who started the game) were outright terrible defensively, giving up entirely too many easy baskets inside which fueled the Raptors to a hot start. Offensively, he didn't seem much better: He often seemed to be going through the motions on 1-4 pick and pop, and often found himself well too far from the hoop (catching the ball behind the 3 point line on numerous possessions). And while his mid-range game was OK, the ball just really seemed to stick in his hands - Celtics seemed to move the ball around infinitely better when he was out of the lineup

Jeff Green If you're in the camp that insists Jeff Green is ready to be the next Celtics superstar and you haven't watched this game; skip it. It's not that he was BAD - he wasn't, in fact his defense (especially alongside Wallace) was very good at times - it's just that he again was so massively unassertive on the offensive end. In 23 minutes of action, I can't tell you a single thing he did on the offensive end. That's not what we need; In fact, I'd argue that I'd be happier saying Green was just outright bad: Shooting poorly from the field, and forcing things too often. Instead, when the team really does need him to step up, we find Iron Man again employing his invisible cloak. If that's a power the Iron Man suit has. I'm not sure. That is not a comic book I have read.

The Ugly:

Not the dopest look, Brad Stevens:

Notes From the Other Side

Rudy Gay looked absolutely fantastic, and it reminded me of this piece about him working his butt off this summer on getting his mechanics back (something he didn't do post shoulder surgery two years ago). Potentially hitting free agency this off-season, he could be an interesting guy to watch this season.

Also, I'll be interested to see what new GM Masai Uriji does with Demar Derozan. To me, and hopefully anybody else with eye balls, Terrence Ross seems like a better player and fit for this team. Outside of the two spectacular dunks, Ross looked very impressive when attacking the hoop, and did a great job in transition. Derozan's a talented guy, but with limited range and bad basketball instincts it just seems more and more obvious that the Raptors made a terrible decision signing him to the humongous contract they gave him last year.

Finally, Ahmir Johnson got inducted to the Kyle Korver Hall of Fame for Embarrassing Defense: