Player Grades: Boston Celtics Defeat Real Madrid 111 – 96


The Celtics played the second of their two internationally-set preseason matches today against Real Madrid as part of the NBA’s Global Games initiative. Just hours before tip-off, MassLive’s Jay King reported that several Celtics players were under the weather and questionable for today’s match-up. However, of the reportedly sick players, only Amir Johnson would miss today’s game.

The other DNP’s – Evan Turner, who has a non-serious knee sprain, and Perry Jones III, who had to attend a relative’s funeral, were already expected to miss today’s game. Jared Sullinger meanwhile, was – while sick –  healthy enough to  play 11 minutes.

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While it’s not unheard of for a person to get sick while traveling extensively, if I had to guess, I’d assume the Celtics went a little too hard in the paint partying last night in Madrid. But this is no cause for concern considering team bonding is a key point of these “Global Games” as it’s far more important than winning an otherwise inconsequential preseason match.

It’s hard to gauge how competitive these European teams are, but for what it’s worth, the Celtics’ opponent today, Real Madrid, won both the Euroleague and Spanish League Championship last season. They’re Europe’s definitive powerhouse, whose star player, Rudy Fernandez, is undoubtedly good enough to still play in the NBA (he used to play in Portland and Denver). However, Fernandez would miss the game earlier today – leaving Madrid’s scoring burden to be placed on former-Clipper, Trey Thompkins.

Both teams ended up experimenting heavily with their personnel and explored a variety of lineup options. This led to the Celtics playing 13 players, while Real Madrid ended up deploying 12. The result was an uneven, yet genuinely exciting game which was never totally close – despite the score occasionally saying otherwise.

Neither team seemd in top form as both would struggle to find a flow with their half-court sets. Therefore, each team needed to rely on their ability to play at a fast-pace, which resulted in a high-volume of three-pointers from both squads. The Celtics wound up taking 23 threes (hitting 8 for 35%), while Real Madrid fired off a whopping 37 (hitting 10 for 27%). Turnovers were also a problem for both squads – especially Real Madrid, who had 26. Boston, meanwhile, had 15.

Real Madrip played far more like an NBA team than the Celtics’ last opponents, Olimipia Milano. Still, the Celtics shouldn’t feel too proud of themselves about this win since it’s still just a Euroleague team. Yet, today’s performance should still leave Celtics fans feeling optimistic about this upcoming season. The team already looks more versatile on offense than they did last season. The main reason? David Lee.

Player Grades

David Lee: A

13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists

I don’t know if I just didn’t do my due research or not, but I didn’t know David Lee was this good of a passer. Whether it be outlet passes or simple pass-outs to the perimeter, he just always seems to know what to do with the ball in his hands. With him setting up from the elbows, it gives the Celtics a number of attacks whether he’s screening for a shooter, handing the ball off to a cutter or executing a pick n’ roll.

Terry Rozier: A

14 points, 4 assists, 2 steals

Rozier was unstoppable during the fourth quarter, scoring all of his 14 points in the final 12 minutes. He was hitting three pointers (2-3 total), finding open teammates and just largely making all the right moves. He looked like a seasoned veteran out there with the heightened basketball IQ he displayed.

Avery Bradley: A

17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals

Bradley was lights out from three today (3-4 total) and continues to seek out the corners more than the wings. The only long two’s he took were following screens for high-percentage looks. It’s encouraging to see Bradley’s offensive game develop a bigger emphasis on efficiency.

Jae Crowder: B+

8 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists

Jae had himself a nice subtle game that had him in a little more of a traditional role than he had last season since he played most of his minutes at the three. Jae went on to tie  the team-high +/- of +19.

Marcus Smart: B

7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists

Smart’s game was ugly in the stat book (1-6 FG), but along the same lines as Crowder, his additions were subtle. He did appear less composed than he was towards the end of last season but that’s to be expected in just the second preseason game.

Isaiah Thomas: B

15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists

Thomas appeared a bit off his game today, but against the weaker competition, his ability to break down defenses shined. He struggled with his shot, but we can expect him to effectively re-calibrate his shot by the start of the regular season.

Kelly Olynyk: B

6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist

Olynyk’s game was rather forgettable, but changing his hairstyle to the “man bun” majorly upped his grade.

Tyler Zeller: B-

8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks

Zeller never has a bad game per se, but tonight he seemed to have occasionally disappear. I was amazed when I checked the stat sheet when I saw that Zeller had played 21 minutes, since it felt like he played five…tops.

Jared Sullinger: B-

7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist

Because Sully was sick, he only played 11 minutes today. He still managed to grab six boards and exhibited a tad more agile than was last season. But I’ll be damned if he’s lost a single pound of fat.

Jordan Mickey: B-

5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block

After Sullinger, Mickey played the least tonight of all Celtics. As a result, it was tough to judge how efficient he was. However, Mickey showed a willingness to go to work on the boards and assume the blue collar-type work that every team needs.

R.J. Hunter: C+

2 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists

Shooters shoot and sometimes shooters miss. Hunter struggled with his shot (0-3 from behind-the-arc) but made some nice passes. He didn’t appear lost at all on defense, but again, it was against inferior competition.

James Young: D+

3 points, 1 rebound, 1 block

Sigh. I know he’s just 20 years old, but you’d think that he’d have at least one breakout game by this point. Well, today certainly wasn’t that day.

Next: Amir Johnson Can Be The Most Improved Player In Boston

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