The Boston Celtics put on their traditional green road uniforms in a non-traditional setting to begin their first step in a long journey tonight.
The first half was a nice preview of what we’ll see from the Celtics this year, with a pick-your-poison starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford starting on the newly name Roy Williams court inside the Dean Dome. They played regular starter minutes in what looked a lot like a regular rotation (sans Marcus Smart) for the first half.
The potency of this offense was on full display early, albeit against a Hornets team that is very much finding itself. They pushed the pace hard after every Charlotte miss, with whomever grabbing the rebound often pushing it up himself to probe the defense and force decisions. Kyrie Irving looked very much like himself, with fancy finishes, early threes in transition, and a general trademark aggressiveness.
The rest of the Celtics were very willing to join Kyrie’s attack, launching a total of 55 field goal attempts in the first half, 27 of them from three. In typical Celtics fashion, there was a significant cool-down after a 50% shooting first quarter. The Celtics walked into halftime shooting 42%, but with a 60-45 lead.
That, effectively, was the end of the first game of the night for Boston. The second began in the third quarter, when the Celtics regular rotation was whittled down from “all starters except Horford” to “Brad Wanamaker, Robert Williams, Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, and Terry Rozier.” Daniel Theis started the second half in Horford’s place and immediately the Celtics defense, which was mostly fluid and as switchy as expected, started having issues.
A lot of early fouls put the Hornets in the bonus early and a lot of blown rotations put the Hornets in the lead. The game got uglier as the regular Celtics slowly came out of the game.
There was fun to be had in the fourth quarter (a brief Yabusele run was nice), but Charlotte took advantage of the soon-to-be-Red Claws, especially Miles Bridges, who had two monster follow dunks. Charlotte won the game 104-97
Gordon Hayward has a little ways to go. I don’t know if tentative is the way to describe his night, but there is certainly a much higher level of aggression he can reach. Nothing in his movements showed any sign of lingering injury, but there were times I though he could have taken an extra dribble and gotten to the rim and he instead passed it off.
Kyrie is fine. He cooled off after a nice start, but I’m very comfortable saying there is zero to be concerned about with Kyrie.
Jaylen Brown came out shooting his shot. He led the Celtics in overall field goal attempts (13) and 3-point field goal attempts (8). I didn’t disagree with most of those shots, and the beauty of this team is that any one of these guys can go of on any night… but I know some people will be like “oh WTF is he doing shooting so much?” This was pretty much all in the flow.
Jayson Tatum flashed some brilliance in the post. He was also aggressive, which was nice to see. He had five rebounds as well, which is a nice bonus.
Al Horford took three shots but he had three assists. I’m drawing zero conclusions after 15 minutes of play, but it was also pretty much the exact way I expect Horford to play all season.
No one will ever remember this, but I want to shout this out:
Just want to note the hard work and energy the kid put into this very simple play. This is what’s going to keep him around and make him important. Yeah, ultimately it might feel meaningless… but it’s a brick in the wall.
- Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 14 points (5-13 fg, 2-8 3pt)
- Marcus Morris had 12 pts (5-11 fg, 2-7 3pt)
- Semi Ojeleye was 0-8 in 23 minutes but led the Celtics with 8 rebounds
- Al Horford and Kyrie Irving had 3 assists each
- Boston shot 47 3’s tonight and took 104 shots. I’m in love with 104 field goal attempts. There’s no chance they average close to that but if they can get it into the low 90’s this season, they’ll be alright
- Aron Baynes hit a 3
The first half was very much a regular rotation from Brad Stevens and we saw the guys launching 3’s, but almost all of them were fine shots. They got the ball and ran off misses, and the beauty of this team is anyone, aside from Baynes, can grab a board and run. That puts a lot of pressure on a defense in transition and it will be tough to stop.
The Celtics did plenty wrong, which I’m sure Brad Stevens hates, but also kinda loves.
Anything to keep the guys motivated and to give him something to hang over their heads. Don’t get lazy, and don’t skip steps.