Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Boston Celtics are here again. They don’t look nearly the same as they did a few months ago, but, extrapolating from a single preseason game — which is always the wisest thing to do — they could be a lot of fun to figure out over the rest of this season.
We no longer need to guess what Kyrie Irving will look like in a home jersey on the parquet floor. We have now seen him kick the ball out to Gordon Hayward and score on a give-and-go with Al Horford. We can finally stop theorizing about what the Celtics might be and actually guess — it’s still very much a guess — based on the little action we’ve seen.
They beat the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night, 94-82, but you may not care much about the score. It’s preseason, after all, so overreactions are more fun.
I think one thing can be safely extrapolated from the first preseason game: There’s gonna be some pretty nice looking basketball mixed with some pretty ugly basketball over the first stretch of season, also there’s going to be a lot of nights where an unexpected player shows up big.
Last night belonged (in the first half) to Aron Baynes and (in the second) to Daniel Theis, who finished the night with 10 and 12 points respectively, leading the team. Of course this is something that nobody expected. Theis was, before last night, solidly in the “Oh yeah, I forgot he’s on the team” category right up there with Abdel Nader and Fifteenth Roster Spot Available.
Page 2: Where Aron Baynes likes hitting people.
With a laugh, Aron Baynes tilted his head backward. The big man had spent part of his Boston Celtics preseason debut bashing another heavily-muscled center, Dwight Howard, for interior position. One of the reporters wanted to know about the physicality of the matchup.
“I mean, it’s fun,” Baynes said. “Everyone’s in preseason getting used to it again so we’ve been hitting our teammates for so long that it’s fun to get out there and hit someone else’s teammates. So it’s all good.”
Baynes could have added he’s well-known for embracing contact. But he didn’t need to.
I’m a bit less surprised than other Celtics observers at Baynes drawing a starting assignment. I know there’s been a lot of talk about starting Horford at the five, but I still don’t see it, and last night’s game is a prime example of why I can see the Celtics starting a game off with a traditional five, especially opposite a guy like Dwight. Baynes doesn’t have to log starters minutes, all he has to do is reduce the amount of time Horford has to play against the other team’s five, and let those minutes pile up later in the game.
Last year, Amir started 80 games but only averaged about 20 minutes a game (less than Olynyk and only three minutes more per game than Jaylen Brown). Those minutes were really front-end loaded too; Amir didn’t log any fourth quarter minutes at all in 33 of the Celtics’ 82 games last season, and only averaged four minutes in the quarter when he did play.
I imagine Aron’s going to slot into the Amir role: softening up the other team’s front court in the early going, and for that he doesn’t need to be 7′-0″ tall. He’s just got to be a bruiser, and so he seems to be.
Finally: Where, according to Dwight, Dwight’s got the basketball IQ.
“As far as basketball IQ, that’s always been something that’s been in me,” Howard said. “I just think that a lot of times people see me getting technical fouls and the crazy fouls and they feel like I don’t have basketball I.Q. But when it comes to this sport … I’ve been playing it for a very long time and I watch. I study. I read. And I learn from those who came before me.”
Howard … turned the ball over a game-high six times.
Sherrod Blakely already has Dwight in the Hall of Fame. I don’t see it. And the snippets above, out of order, is why. If this guy knows the game as well as he says he does, you’d have a hard time telling based off what he does on the court.
The rest of the links:
NBC Sports Boston: Brown: Thomas trade ‘changes the whole dynamic’ for Celtics | Baynes makes Hornets pay for leaving him wide open for jumpers | Celtics kick off preseason with 94-82 win over Hornets
Boston Herald: New-look Celtics open preseason with a win
Providence Journal: Celtics 94, Hornets 82: Kyrie Irving’s raring to go
Boston Globe: Celtics look sharp in their preseason opener