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It Was Far From Perfect, But The Celtics Start Their Season With A Win And Are Back To Being Fun

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

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If we were being totally honest, coming off the first preseason look of the 2019-20 Boston Celtics, there are sort of more questions than answers. It’s very similar to Summer League in that when your team comes out and looks amazing you want to put a whole lot of stock into what you’re seeing, and when your team comes out against an opponent that should be in the high lottery and your regulars are being outplayed by their regulars, you may want to panic. Last night for the Celtics was somewhere in the middle. Some guys looked awesome and ready for the season, others not so hot. Some of the issues you may have been concerned about reared their ugly head immediately which certainly wasn’t ideal. But here’s the thing, after 151 days it was just nice to have fun watching the Celts again. These games don’t count, it’s all about building a foundation and working towards being ready for the regular season, and honestly when was the last time you had this much fun watching the NBA roster play? Sure Summer League is a blast but that’s different. After the disaster we all experienced last season, I’ll take literally anything that makes watching this team an enjoyable experience. I know they’re going to fuck around and do classic Celtics things that make you sweat games you shouldn’t, but even with their flaws there was still a lot to like about what we saw from the first game action of the season. Let’s dive in.

The Good

– Can’t start anywhere other than Jayson Tatum. He showed up right away and proved that what we saw over the summer and with Team USA was for real, that his ankle is 100% healthy and the approach to his game so far is so much better. See for yourself

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Tatum talked a lot about how he was going to eliminate the over reliance on his struggling midrange and focus more on threes and FTs. For him to take that step as a scorer, his FT rate certainly has to skyrocket, and I’d much rather him take a three than pump fake and then force himself into a tough midrange. Well with his 20/4 with 3 steals on 8-14 shooting, you’ll see that sort of approach is exactly what happened

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I mean, that’s nearly perfect. The one midrange he did take and make wasn’t forced, everything else was either attacking the rim or from behind the arc. He took 8 3PA in this game, something he basically never did last season. If this is more in line with what we can expect from Tatum then he truly will make that all important jump. It’s just one preseason game I get that, but he by far looked the best of any starter last night.

– I may be a victim of the moment, but I’m putting Carsen Edwards and his debut next. We all saw this summer how he’s a walking bucket, and absolutely nothing changed in his first NBA action

The way he comes in locked and loaded with zero hesitation could very well have him be the perfect offensive sparkplug for the second unit. His release is quicker than Eddie House, his confidence is Isaiah like, and the thighs, I mean jesus christ. What if I also told you that Carsen Edwards had a Drtg of 78 in this game which was the second best on the team and his net rating of +29.5 was also the second highest? He’s putting in the work, he very well may not be a liability on the defensive end, and his shooting is certainly NBA ready. If this debut is any indication, Danny Ainge just found himself an absolute steal.

– We need to talk about the chemistry. It’s one of the biggest storylines of this entire season, and it’s why bringing in Kemba was going to be so important. I’m sorry, just look at these photos

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

If you’re someone who didn’t watch much Celtics last year you may not see why this is such a huge deal. But if you lived through the black cloud that was the 2018-19 Celtics, I think you could count on three fingers the total times this ENTIRE team was genuinely happy. This isn’t an accident. Who knows how it may impact their win total or playoff run or any of that, but the fact that every single Celtic was engaged and positive was such a breath of fresh air. This was the most noticeable thing last night, these guys don’t hate each other…yet.

– Speaking of Kemba, a decent debut. Nothing flashy, it wasn’t without its flaws, but he gave us a preview of exactly what we can expect. His pull up three ability, his playmaking, his mindrange, that was all on display yesterday

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Just like with Team USA he basically never turned it over, and I also didn’t feel like he forced things, even when the Celts were unable to pull away early. I think it was a great sign that Kemba didn’t have to be your best player yesterday. If that’s the case moving forward, that’s a great sign.

– OK, what more is there to say about Tacko that I didn’t say yesterday. He rules. He’s an unstoppable force, and god dammit do I need him to find a way onto this roster. Just watch

It was only 8 minutes, but him and Carsen Edwards changed the momentum of this game in that third/fourth quarter.

– Shout out Grant Williams for already being an elite gifter and showing that he can understand defensive rotations. You want to see the floor on a Brad Steven’s team? Learn to defend on a consistent basis. His late charge, his huge OREB on a missed FT to basically seal it, if there’s one takeaway I have about Grant it’s that he’s basically a bigger Marcus Smart.

– If there is one thing standing in the way of Tacko making the 15 man roster, it’s Javonte Green. He’s athletic as hell and debuted in a big way last night. He’s such an intriguing wing prospect, if he doesn’t make the Celts he’s 100% going to find his way onto an NBA roster

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– I’m trying to be patient about Gordon, but it’s hard. Seeing this

and then also seeing him be aggressive and not afraid has my heart soaring.

The Bad

– OK, now that we got all of that out of the way, we have some time to be honest. It is absolutely pathetic that the Celtics beat the Hornets by 1 point and were at risk of losing to a dogshit team. To be down by as much as 17 points at home is inexcusable I don’t care what time of the year it is. Fake game or real, doesn’t matter. I’m looking at the starters and not one of them had a positive +/-. They gave up 63 fucking points on 50% shooting to a team that may not even win 20 games. There’s no positive way to spin that defensive performance.

– We’ll start with Jaylen. Guy wants a max deal yet I didn’t see anything that warranted such a figure. He had the worst overall net rating at -27.8, slightly above Kemba’s -25.0. He showed some improvement with his dribble drives and his decision making on the break, but overall? Kind of an egg performance from him.

– Don’t let the final 48-41 rebounding number fool you, the Celts got destroyed on the glass pretty much all night. As you know, defense and rebounding are the formula for wins with this team and we didn’t get much of either. No starter with more than 4, Kanter with only 4 which is a PROBLEM, and it didn’t help they allowed 13 OREB. Brad wants to go small at times, but man this team needs to figure their shit out on the glass.

– Timelord is exciting, but man he has a long way to go.

– 23 TOs is a disgusting number. You know how you give bad teams life? You give them second chance points and turn it over a shit ton. Careless basketball is going to get this team killed.

– I know Semi wants a bigger role, but after his 1-6 performance with a couple turnovers and mostly forgettable defense, I’m not sure he’s there yet. He’s intriguing in small ball lineups, but the man has to figure out his jumpshot already.

The Ugly

– The #1 problem or concern heading into this season was apparent right away. The interior defense on this roster stinks. Stinks to the high heavens. Kanter couldn’t stop a nosebleed, Poirier played 5 minutes and did jack shit, Timelord couldn’t stop fouling and it seemed like there was no resistance whatsoever in the post. I don’t know how they solve that but I can assure you they are going to be facing way better frontcourts than what CHA has to offer.

– 10-35 from three for a cool 28.6% while also missing 7 FTAs. It’s almost like they enjoy torturing me.

But hey, you have to start somewhere and I’d rather be 1-0 than 0-1 with a loss to a bad team. Even though a 1 point win still sort of feels like a loss and Brad is going to have a long list of things to fix before we see this team hit the court again, it’s still awesome to have the Celtics back in our lives again. To be able to have fun watching them on top of that? Well that was surely missed.

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