3 up and 3 down from the Celtics preseason game against the Sixers
The Celtics are back, and damn does that feel good to write.
Sure it was only a preseason game against the lowly Sixers, but hey, it's a start, and just because it was preseason, it doesn't mean what we saw was meaningless. Obviously any games that don't count should be taken with a grain of salt, but we got a chance to see some of the skill-sets the Celtics have on their roster, and how they compliment each other.
So here are some things I noticed, some positive, some not-so-positive.
- I am on the record as not thinking Turner is very good, and one preseason game sure as hell isn't going to convince me that his four seasons of bad play were a mirage. That said, he was fantastic last night against his former team, putting up 15 points, 10 boards and 6 assists, registering a double-double that could have been a triple-double had some more of his passes been converted. He handled the ball a lot, and only turned it over twice in 31 minutes, a good sign considering some of his turnover issues in the past.
My two biggest issues with Turner were his inefficiency on offense, and his poor defense. However last night he scored his 15 points on just 11 shots, and with assists added in was responsible for 29 points created in 31 minutes. That's damn good. Defensively he was ok, and if he can even be that, that's a huge step up from the past. Again, not about to admit I was wrong yet, not even close. But it was a hell of a start for Turner. 2. Marcus Smart on defense
3 steals, a block and by my count another two tipped passes, meaning he disrupted six possessions, and forced at least three turnovers. He fought through screens all night, and his energy level was both ridiculous and contagious. Smart is not only NBA ready as a defender, if he were to play 30 minutes a game this year (impossible unless Rondo is traded or remains hurt), I'm confident he would earn an All-Defensive team nod. He's that good. (As for his offense..um..we'll get to that).
3. James Young
- First off, Brandon Bass could easily be on this list. 15 and 9 in 20 minutes is phenomenal, and Bass looks to once again be a solid contributor this season (Side note: WHY THE HELL IS HE STILL HERE? CONTENDING TEAMS, HIS CONTRACT IS EXPIRING AND HE'S GOOD AT BASKETBALL. TRADE FOR HIM). But Bass is Bass, and I think we all expected him to be pretty good.
On the flip side, Young is quite the unknown, and I really liked what I saw last night. The stats don't wow you: 10 points on 8 shots in 20 minutes, only 1-5 shooting the three and 3-5 from the free throw line. But the talent is there, he got to the line and seemed to be able to create space for himself, a talent that not many Celtics posses. When you stop to consider he's barely 19 years old and didn't even play in the summer league -- he's someone to get excited about.
1. Marcus Smart on offense
- You knew it was coming, didn't you? 0-8 shooting, 0-5 from three, with both of his points coming from the free throw line. We all knew Smart's shot was the least NBA ready skill he had, but between shooting 28% in the summer league and last night, it may be even further behind than we all had hoped. It's something that clearly needs to get better, and considering his work ethic and energy level..there's reason to think it will. But last night was not a good start.
2. The shooting in general
- The starters (Smart, Bradley, Turner, Sullinger and Olynyk) shot 16-for-56 (28.6%), with only Turner shooting better than 30% from the field. As a team the Celtics shot 33% from three (below average), 73% from the line (ditto) and a terrible 35% from two. Also keep in mind they were playing the team that finished 30th in defense last season, and is projected to be even worse this year. Teams have off nights, and hopefully this is all it was. But it's also a fact that the Celtics just don't have a plethora of shooters, something that will plague them all year during possessions where they need a three.
3. Tyler Zeller
- I took special notice of the new guys, and Zeller was the one guy who was entirely unimpressive. He had 2 points and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes, while committing five fouls and turning the ball over three times. He also routinely seemed to be out of position on defense, which is the one thing the 7-footer will be counted on regularly for. Not sure if it was Brad Stevens' system or just a bad night, but Zeller was pretty much terrible.
Again, none of these points are meant to be taken as gospel. Simply reactions to game one of the preseason. But all in all it was a pretty fun game after the dumpster fire first quarter that saw the Cs shoot like 7% from the floor. They were running, competing on defense, and we saw ten (10!!) different guys under the age of 25 play for the Celtics. Pretty exciting stuff.