The first preseason game is in the books, but the result probably wasn’t what most Celtics fans expected. Seeing that this was the first preseason game, and has already been playing, it would be hard to analyze this game like you would in the regular season. One thing is for sure, you could easily nit-pick at some of the things the Celtics didn’t do or struggled with.
Clearly, switching on screens is something Doc Rivers will have to address with the team before the season starts. Play after play the Celtics got beat in the pick and roll game resulting in uncontested layups. Lack of communication on defense didn’t help, and Boston is known for having one of the most vocal and animated defenses in the league. There are a lot of new players learning the system, so it’s understandable that the first game didn’t go well. But I have to say though, Fenerbahce Ulker’s offense is quick, and I truly believe that they could beat a lot of teams in the NBA.
Turnovers and rebounding were another issue. Twenty-five turnovers by the Celtics would be unacceptable for a regular season game, but again, this is a completely different team with new players. Offensive fouls contributed to the turnover count, and some of those calls were questionable. Basically, miscommunication was the highlight tonight for the Celtics when it came to their turnover woes.
Rebounding is definitely going to be a problem with this team, especially when they take on a team like the Lakers, and possibly the 76ers. There were multiple times when the opponent would get offensive rebounds, and the Celtics had a hard time boxing out. Jared Sullinger was the only bright spot when it came to rebounding. He accumulated five offensive rebounds and was active on the glass.
There were a lot of positives that we could take away from this game, and Jeff Green was one of the bright spots tonight. Green took over the entire fourth quarter, and almost single handedly lead a comeback. Down the stretch he was aggressive, taking the ball to the hoop, drawing fouls, and making difficult shots. Brian Scalabrine, the newest member of CSNNE as a Celtics analyst, compared Green to James Worthy. I can say for myself that I never saw Worthy play, but it’s way too early to make such a comparison.
In my last article on Jeff Green, I expected him to be somewhat out of shape early in the season, but he surprised me today. The aggressiveness and assertiveness by Green was a great sign of where he is mentally and physically. If he can play like he did today throughout the season, he is going to be an important piece when the Celtics go to the playoffs. It’s obvious, if Jeff Green had been healthy last year, Boston would have gotten back to the Finals.
Green wasn’t the only player to surprise. Jared Sullinger lead the team in rebounding and had a team high in scoring with 16 points. It’s only the first game of the preseason, but I can’t remember the last time the Celtics had a rookie who put up numbers like that, this early in his career. He looked comfortable and was ready for most of Rajon Rondo’s passes. Throughout the last few months I’ve compared Sullinger to Glen Davis, but he may be more productive in his first season than Davis was.
Lastly, Jason Terry finished the game with 12 points and was 3 for 3 from the three point line. I’m really not too surprised, but one thing I liked is that Terry created his own shot a few times, one thing Ray Allen couldn’t do.
All in all it was a good game. If the Celtics had started the game like they finished it, Boston would have come away with a victory. But it’s preseason, and now is the time to fix any kinks in the system before they become major problems in the regular season.