Celtics comfortably defeat the Hornets 94-82 in first Preseason Game
The Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 94-82 in their opening Preseason Game at TD Garden on Monday night. This was our first look at the new Celtics roster that only has four returning players. Boston's second and third strings came to play, as they led a second-half surge that ended with a 12-point victory.
Boston opened the game with Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Al Hordford, and Aron Baynes on the floor, and it took no time at all for Irving to showcase his flashy talents on the parquet. The newest Celtic used an array of nifty moves to put up a quick six points, including a floater, a pull-up jumper, and even a dunk (for reference, he only had two dunks all of the last regular season):
The ball movement was great from the get-go for the Celtics, with everyone getting touches and looks. Marcus Smart, the "longest tenured Celtic" who shed 20 pounds this summer, knocked down his first two looks from behind the arc to help give Boston a 10-point edge. However, Boston lost a few steps as more of their subs entered the game, ending the first quarter with just a three-point advantage:
First quarter of the preseason is in the books! The Celtics lead the Hornets 22-19. Smart and Irving lead the C’s with 6 pts apiece.
The Hornets buzzed back from their double-digit deficit in a hurry, going on a 15-0 run to erase Boston's lead. The No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft, Jayson Tatum, seemed anxious during his first appearance in a Celtics uniform. He missed his first four shots and split a pair of free throws in the opening half.
Meanwhile, after hitting his first two, Smart threw up five more three-point shots but only converted on one of them. Still, 3 for 7 from deep at the half isn't a bad mark for a guy who has shot notoriously poor in his career.
Baynes was rock solid in the first half of his Celtic debut, putting up eight points on 4/6 shooting. His strength and physicality under the rim may turn out to be a very underrated asset for the Celtics. One point of criticism for the Australian big man is that he had two of Boston's five first-half turnovers.
Hayward didn't seem to find his groove in his new team's offense. He shot 2/6 from the field for five points and five boards which is respectable, but he didn't appear to be his usual self. That is to be expected this early in the preseason, though. Horford, on the other hand, was his normal productive self, doing a little bit of everything to help preserve the Celtics' lead going into halftime:
It’s halftime here in Boston, with the Celtics leading the Hornets 47-43. Irving: 9 pts, 3 ast. Hayward: 5 pts, 5 reb. Smart: 8 pts, 4 reb. pic.twitter.com/fyHr3ge2mH
Brad Stevens went young for the entire second half of play, replacing Irving, Hayward, and Horford with Terry Rozier, Tatum, and rookie Semi Ojeleye. With Charlotte's first-unit still in the game, the Boston youngsters naturally started the half slow and let the Hornets recapture the lead. They soon found their footing and, led by this powerful Jaylen Brown dunk, went back-and-forth with the Hornets' starters:
Boston got some great production from deep in their bench when they brought in Shane Larkin, Daniel Theis, and Abdel Nader. The trio played great ball together and opened a six point lead going into the final frame:
Heading into the final frame, the C’s lead the Hornets 68-62. Larkin, Nader & Theis scored 4 pts apiece in the third.
The young guys - perhaps with some extra motivation to prove themselves this preseason - continued their strong play into the fourth. Theis hit his first four shots to pour in nine fast points and added seven boards and three assists. Three of his makes were dunks, and the other was a three. Talk about versatility!
Daniel Theis with 11 points, 7 reb and 3 ast in 10 minutes. #Celtics
Nader also didn't miss a shot in his first three tries, using some nice drives to the hoop to chip in with six points. After a slow start, Tatum picked up his game in the second half. The 19-year-old picked up a pair of blocks and steals, while finding the bottom of the net much more often. He shot 1/7 in the first half but bounced back by shooting 3/4 in the second and finishing with nine points on the night.
Thanks to the Celtics bench, Boston finished on top with a 12-point win:
Celtics grab a 94-82 win over the Hornets to start the preseason. Irving: 9 pts, Hayward: 5 pts & 5 reb, & Theis led C's w/ 12 pts, 7 reb. pic.twitter.com/WVgCgA7BXg