Boston Celtics Fall to the Toronto Raptors in Preseason Opener: 97-89


Oct 7, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts as they take on the Toronto Raptors in the second half at TD Garden. The Raptors defeated the Celtics 97-89. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It pleases me to say that Boston Celtics basketball in back in session. After a long, drawn out summer with a bunch of intangible things to delve into, we’ve finally got a small taste of what these Boston Celtics will look like and what Brad Stevens is going to try to do.

The Celtics may have fallen to the Raptors tonight, but this season isn’t going to be evaluated on wins and losses. Instead, we’re looking for concepts and teaching skills from Brad Stevens for the future.

I took a few  notes on some things that I noticed tonight–both from Stevens’ schemes and the way that the players played. Here they are below.

Avery Bradley Won’t Work at Point Guard

Avery Bradley is just not suited to be a point guard on the NBA level. Defensive schemes seem too complex for him to read, at this point, when he has the ball. He seems to be a much better player when cutting and diving into the paint without the ball in his hands. When it’s time for him to create for others, though, he just isn’t able to come through.

He finished the game with 12 points but shot 5-16 from the field. He had three assists and three turnovers as well and he didn’t play too great on the defensive end. Of course, when the offensive burden is put on you to create for others, your defense is going to struggle. For quite some time, Bradley was the sole creator on the team. And it seems like he’s forcing himself to try to get others open looks. The fact of the matter is that he just isn’t that great of an offensive threat with the ball.

His flaws are that he can’t shoot off of the dribble, when the defense backs off he doesn’t know how to use that space, he plays at one speed with the ball and he can’t control the flow of the game. It’s difficult for him to get the Celtics into some of their sets and we saw that tonight.

Jeff Green Struggles without a True Creator

Jeff Green really needs a creator, at this point, to be productive. This is only one game, but it seems that his ball handling didn’t improve much over the offseason and he should be much of the same player.

The only caveat is that he seems to be more willing to shoot–that could end up being a positive or a negative thing. If his usage increases too much and his skill with the ball hasn’t improved much, he’ll become a predictable player. He’s going to need to be set up in a position where he can be a good player for the Celtics.

This goes back to having Avery Bradley as your starting point guard. Should they have tried Phil Pressey instead? I think so. Maybe Pressey will get some more time going forward, but it isn’t like Pressey is going to cure all of the Celtics offensive woes at the lead guard position.

We’ll see how Green progresses going forward, bu it’s safe to say that he started off slowly today. He went 2-7 from the field and only scored six points. That isn’t a very good sign of things going forward without Rondo, but this season is all about progress. Hopefully Jeff will make some.

Kelly Olynyk Can Be Decent if Used Correctly

Kelly Olynyk should be a decent NBA player if he’s put in the right position to succeed. I’m not sure if he’ll be what he was in the Summer League, but he does have  a lot of skill that can be put to good use.

The only complaint that I have about Olynyk tonight is that he attempted too many outside shots. Olynyk only made his first field goal which was a shot at the rim. The second shot was at the rim as well, but he failed to convert. For the rest of the night, Olynyk’s shots came from the outside–that includes one shot from deep. He made a few threes in the Summer League, but he’s clearly not a shooter at this point. We shouldn’t see Olynyk taking these kinds of shots.

Olynyk proved to be a decent passer and a decent player in pick and roll situations when diving and sinking to the rim. He finished with five assists tonight and Brad Stevens also called him one of the team’s best passers. There’s no denying his skill at this point and that can be put to very good use.

Jared Sullinger Looked Good

There has been a lot of talk about Jared Sullinger being out of shape because he hasn’t played since about the halfway point of last season. Well, tonight, he looked very good for a player who was out of shape. He finished the game with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes. This is a good sign for the Celtics going forward.

Sullinger may earn himself a role in the starting lineup if he continues to play well in the preseason. He’s probably the ideal fit, at this point, in Brad Stevens system. The dives that Stevens has off of the pick and roll that are embedded into this offense suit Sullinger well. He should be a feature when he’s on the court.

Once the Celtics get their creator back, he could be a really good player to have on this team.

Last Boston Celtics few notes

  • Brad Stevens’ offense is totally different from Doc Rivers. Rivers’ system didn’t have too many diving principles within it and it also didn’t have the same systematic movements for players outside of the ball handler and the roll men. Tonight I saw a lot more movement on this team than I have in quite some time.
  • Ron Adams is going to bring a lot to this defense. The team looked very good and sound defensively. As we see their system start to work, we’ll see how effective it can actually be going into the season.
  • We need to keep in mind that we have no idea if all of the things we saw today will stick. This is still the preseason and the Celtics will be working out the kinks just like everyone else.
  • Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass probably should not play together; at least not starting, anyway.