In their 2nd preseason outing, Boston will be going up against the New York Knicks. Boston lost it’s debut against the Raptors and hope to continue improving and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Here are some things to look out for.
Jared Sullinger & Kelly Olynyk combo:
In the first game this was easily the Celtics’ best combination of bigs and should be for the remainder of the preseason/regular season. They were able provide spacing, find backdoor cutters and ran a very good high-low game. Monday’s game was Jared Sullinger’s first NBA game in over 250 days and he moved and played very well for someone who had back surgery in the past year. His rebounding was solid as he showed that he’s still willing to bang down low under the boards and we’ll see if that’s the same going up against Tyson Chandler. Conditioning may bee an issue going forward but I think it’s something that could be less of an issue that it’s perceived to be. Olynyk, who drew high praise from Celtics’ Broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn who proclaimed that “He has more skills than Dirk did when he was coming out” or something along those lines. Outlandish comparisons aside, Olynyk looked very good and we’ll see if it holds up against a very different team like the Knicks. Something that Boston did last game which I would like to see more of tonight is running more sets out of HORNS — two bigs at the elbows — with Sullinger and Olynyk. Sully and Olynyks’ passing skills and shooting ability enable these sets to be extremely effective.
With Jordan Crawford out tonight due to a personal matter, we expect to see the debut of Phil Pressey who did not take the floor last game. Brad Stevens had this to say at yesterday’s practice:
“You’ll see a lot more of Phil Pressey, which is good,” Stevens said. I’m really looking forward to that. I think he’s done a great job. I knew that prior to last night’s game, that’s why I didn’t play Phil last night and played Jordan a couple more minutes.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Pressey holds up against NBA level talent. With Brad Stevens still experimenting with lineups and the point guard position looking like it will be Boston’s weakest link, Pressey has a chance to make a name for himself The 5-foot-11 point guard looked promising in Summer League but preseason is a different challenge for the rookie.
Uncle Jeff didn’t look like himself last game. He was relegated to some spot up jumpers but really wasn’t involved in the offense that much. Whether that was a factor of it being the first game of preseason and trying to shake off the rust or not being comfortable in a certain lineup, it’s certainly something to look out for tonight.
“Rebounding” and “Celtics” are just two words that never seem to be able to go together. Boston was out rebounded against Toronto 46-26. Having been ranked in the bottom 10 in Total Rebound Rate for the past 3 years — Boston was ranked dead last in ’12-’13 — this isn’t an entirely foreign concept to Boston and the rebounding personnel is certainly worse. Look to see if they can improve from Monday’s debacle on the boards.
Tonight’s game tips-off at 7:30 p.m. EST.
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