May 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Avery Bradley (0) dribbles against the New York Knicks during the first half in game five of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics kicked off their 2013 preseason in the Garden, falling to the visiting Toronto Raptors 97-89. After an offseason of blockbuster trades and long-time faces leaving Boston for good, it shouldn’t be expected that the new Boston Celtics will look comfortable playing together for the first time and under a new head coach. With the first game of the new-look Celtics out of the way, here are four takeaways from the loss.
Gerald Wallace can still produce
Gerald Wallace came off of the bench for the C’s in the preseason opener and looked as good as anyone on the court. Whether it was slashing, playing tenacious defense or hitting outside jumpers, Wallace was easily the most productive Celtic. After a less-than-stellar stint in New Jersey/Brooklyn, not much was expected out of the former All-Star in his first season in Boston. Wallace finished the game with sixteen points, two boards, four assists and a steal, which is a very promising start considering the lack of consistency the Celtics had with their roster combinations.
Jared Sullinger is back
Despite an ailing back, Sullinger looks to have not missed a step after missing most of his rookie campaign after undergoing back surgery in December. Sullinger came off of the bench and continued to rack up boards, leading the team with six. He still has the strength and size to battle with anyone down low, and most of his fourteen points came on tough layups in heavy traffic. If Sullinger can continue to score in the post and improve on the glass, he could easily find himself back in the Celtics’ starting lineup.
Avery Bradley continues to struggle on offense
While he did tally twelve points in the opening loss, Avery’s 5-16 shooting effort wasn’t a very promising start to his fourth NBA season. His three point shooting looked much better than it has in recent memory, as he was able to hit two of three from beyond the arc. On a positive note, he did manage to rack up three assists on a night when the Celtics were clearly sharing the distribution effort, and he continued to hassle opponents defensively with three steals. If this team is going to be competitive while Rondo finishes his rehab, Bradley will need to find a way to be more productive on the offensive end without wasting too many shots.
Which Jeff Green will we see?
Jeff Green led the team in scoring last postseason, averaging roughly twenty points in the Celtics six games against the New York Knicks. After showing that the offense could clearly run through him, and with Paul Pierce out of the picture, this was to be the year that we finally saw if Green was capable of being the go-to-guy. This team is going to struggle for awhile before they look comfortable playing together, but the lack of intensity on the offensive end by Green in his first game back at the TD Garden was disappointing. We were rarely afforded the opportunity to see him drive to the hoop, and his so-so effort showed with just six points, one rebound and three turnovers. Green has shown in the past that he has the tools to power through the lane on any play, and if the Celtics are to have any chance at competing for a playoff spot, they will need him to bring it night in and night out.