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 fell 104-97 to the Charlotte Hornets in their preseason opener on Friday, as Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving took the court together for the first time since last year’s disastrous season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After an excellent first half, during which the Celtics led by 20, Charlotte came storming back in the third when Boston went ice-cold from three. The Celtics’ third unit briefly took a fourth-quarter lead, but Miles Bridges’ enormous dunks helped the Hornets pull away.
OK, so you can’t win them all. But when your team was referred to last season as the “Hospital Celtics,” it’s a victory to play an entire 48 minutes without anyone limping off the court, or worse.
As you would expect in a first preseason game, no one on either team looked especially sharp, but there were some good moments. John Karalis posted the full Red’s Army recap of last night’s game, but here are some additional random thoughts and highlights.
- Early on, fans on Twitter expressed some nervousness about Hayward’s return. Can’t blame them. Gordo said afterward that he was just happy to be out there because there were moments during his rehab when he wasn’t sure that would actually happen.
- Kyrie looked comfortable for someone who also hadn’t played in a long time.
- Brian Scalabrine noted that Terry Rozier looks “thicker” than before, and Mike Gorman agreed. The thick, jacked frame lives on.
- And let’s give a shoutout to NBC Sports Boston, which once again is serving the fans by televising all four of the Cs’ preseason games. Surely, that doesn’t happen in every NBA market.
- Back to Terry – he was aggressive going to the hole, had a couple of flashy finishes, and still needs to work on his lob passes.
- Aron Baynes drilled a three without hesitation from near the top of the arc. Looks like he is expanding his range beyond the corner.
- Mook Morris still shoots every time he touches the ball.
- Celts took 55 shots and committed only 4 turnovers in the first 24 minutes. They led by more than 20 through much of the half.
- The third quarter took approximately forever to play because the refs were whistle-happy at a ridiculous pace. (They called a total of 57 fouls for the game.)
- Boston also went cold as the regulars were replaced by Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele, rookies and roster fillers. Charlotte got back in the game by finding their shooting touch, scoring 39 in the third.
- Yabu punished defenders in the paint a couple of time, spun home a nifty reverse layup on a fastbreak, and had two highlight reel blocks protecting the rim. Looked much more comfortable than last year.
- Robert Williams got his first minutes and nearly threw down an alley oop (the Rozier lob was a bit behind the rookie). He also attempted a one-legged fadeaway, which in postgame Brad Stevens said we probably won’t ever see again.
- Walt Lemon, Jr. dropped a beautiful driving and-one, and later forced a turnover by pressuring an inbounds pass. Also scored off an after-timeout play drawn up by Brad, the Master.
- The Celtics took 47 threes, making a respectable 8 of 25 in the first half, but an unbelievable 1 of 22 (!!) in the second half. Semi stood out in the wrong way, missing seven threes and shooting a woeful 0-8 overall.
- Marcus Smart wasn’t with the team; he was excused from the trip “for personal reasons.”
NBC Sports Boston: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown in midseason form for preseason opener | Highlights from the Boston Celtics’ 104-97 preseason loss to the Charlotte Hornets | Despite loss, Gordon Hayward’s return ‘definitely a win’ for the Celtics
On Page 2: Know your whistle
Last night was a typical preseason game in terms of the officials, who made a call seemingly on every trip down the court. Part of that was the players not being game-ready yet, and also that so many young guys got a more-than-usual share of minutes. But the refs also have their points of emphasis, and they worked on them relentlessly.
Most prevalent last night was the “wrap-up” foul that’s highlighted in this video. If you have time to watch these, they will show you what to expect this season. Or, don’t bother and just assume the refs are out to screw over the Cs.
P.S. Monty used to be a high-profile ref who worked numerous Finals games, but after seeing that outfit it’s fair to question his judgment. Man, that’s ugly.
And, finally…R.I.P. Hambone Williams
Sad to learn of the death of Hambone Williams, a lightning quick point guard and fan favorite in the old Garden, who won a ring as a reserve on the 1974 Celtics.
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