Last night the Boston Celtics walked into the Barclays Center and won in impressive fashion as they routed the Nets 115-85. Most of the concerns Celtics fans had about chemistry, defense off of pick and rolls, and running the fast break effectively were quenched for at least one night. The win wasn’t as important as what we saw from the starters and second unit. The main rotational players got majority of the minutes, and what they did in the time they played should make fans really confident heading into the season.
Throughout the entire game the Celtics played exceptional defense, which in turn created fast break opportunities. Courtney Lee and Rajon Rondo paired as the players who started and finished fast breaks off turnovers. Lee had 18 points and 4 steals, and for the first time in a Celtic uniform, he looked comfortable, playing the game that we’re accustomed to seeing from him. But the Celtics as a team ran the floor well, constantly pushing the up-tempo game which allowed Boston to put points on the board quickly.
Running the fast break wasn’t the only thing the Celtics improved on from the last three games. The defense that Celtics fans have seen for the last five years was finally displayed for the first time this preseason. Pick and roll defense improved considerably, and as Tommy Heinsohn pointed out, they were one step ahead of the offense. Last night there was no confusion on the defense, and unlike the last few games, they rotated off of screens well.
Overall, the team defense was more impressive, there was a sense that Boston played as a cohesive unit. Every man knew where he was supposed to be, and because of that, the Nets had a hard time scoring. If that’s what we’ll be seeing every night this season, the Celtics are going to be a very entertaining and fun team to watch.
The point distribution stood out on the stat sheet as well. All the players in the starting lineup finished in double figures in points, led by Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee who both scored 18 points. Adding to that, Jason Terry being the main contributor off the bench, finished with 15 points, 5-5 from the three point line. When it comes to scoring, bench points are the most important. We know what the starters can give, but having a strong bench who can supply a second wave of instant offense will propel this team throughout the season.
What we witnessed last night by this team should be normal on a nightly basis throughout the season. They have the ability to put up 115 points a night, and they have the defensive minded players who can shut down opponents. One thing is for sure, last night was a statement game. It’s only the preseason, but after Brooklyn came into Boston without playing their starters and still winning the game, it became a wake up call for the Celtics.
With two games remaining, I’d like to see Boston come out and win in the same way. It’s clear now who will be in Doc Rivers’ rotation, and all that’s left to do is to send a message to the rest of the division that if you want to win, you have to go through Boston to do it.