Player Grades: Boston Celtics Defeat Brooklyn Nets 109-105


Last night, the Celtics faced the Brooklyn Nets in their first preseason game against an actual NBA team.

Last week, the team ventured over to Europe to play two preseason games as part of the NBA’s Global Games’ initiative. Their first stop was Milan, where they faced-off against Italian Ligue One’s Olimpia Milano. Afterwards, the team headed west to Madrid, to play European powerhouse, Real Madrid. The Celtics won both games and returned to the United States victorious.

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However, all of this traveling paid a toll on some of the Celtics players’ health. Both Coty Clarke and Marcus Smart  were two of the road trip’s casualties as both would miss last night’s game due to illness. Stevens also opted to rest both David Lee and Avery Bradley, simply for the sake of gifting them the night off. Terry Rozier would also miss last night’s game due to knee soreness.

Even with three of the Celtics’ projected opening day starters inactive for last night’s game, the team didn’t appear depleted at all, illustrated by their systematic dismantling of the weaker-than-expected Brooklyn Nets.

While the score suggests it was a close game, it was actually a blowout. The outcome of the game was never really in doubt as the Celtics had a comfortable lead for the majority of the game. From the very beginning, the Celtics’ starters outright manhandled the Nets’ starters and proved just how poorly this Nets squad will fare this season. After trading Deron Williams, the Nets may have the worst backcourt in the entire NBA considering their presumed opening day starting guards are Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington.

Brooklyn doesn’t have one creative playmaker to facilitate ball movement on their entire roster. This showed last night as their offensive schemes were both predictable and incredibly lazy. If they don’t find somebody capable of running an NBA offense, Brooklyn could quickly become the most boring team to watch in all of basketball.

Meanwhile, the Celtics’ offense was fast-paced, fluid and well-spaced, all thanks to first-time Celtics starter, Isaiah Thomas. Prior to the game, he mentioned that he was working on his passing skills and seeing as he totaled 9 assists last night, his hard work didn’t go for naught.

Player Grades

Amir Johnson: A+

19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, +5

8-13 FG, 2-3 3PT, 1-2 FT

Johnson was last night’s decisive MVP. Celtics fans now understand why Raptors fans were so crestfallen when he left Toronto. Johnson didn’t necessarily breakout in his only preseason game prior to last night’s – but after showcasing his prowess on both ends of the floor in Brooklyn – we now know why Danny Ainge threw $12 million at him.

Johnson was firing on all cylinders last night hitting two three-pointers, throwing down dunks and effectively protecting the rim – a rare sight last season in Boston. While it seems Stevens is leaning towards starting Zeller at C on opening night, he may need to reconsider if Johnson keeps up this play.

Isaiah Thomas: A

17 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, +13

6-10 FG, 3-5 3PT, 2-3 FT

Thomas stepped up to the plate when he was asked to start last night’s game as he illustrated to the league that he’s more than just a gunner off the bench. His passing was sharp and was able to overtake Evan Turner as the team’s primary ball distributor. While the team leaned on him heavily last season for his scoring, if he could average 17 and 9 this season, the team would be WAY better off.

Evan Turner: A-

10 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, +5

4-9 FG, 2-2 FT

While Thomas assumed the majority of last night’s point duties, Turner behaved as a consistent presence for Thomas to occasionally defer to. Turner still managed to tally 7 assists while only turning the ball over once.

R.J. Hunter: A-

11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, -2

3-8 FG, 3-7 3PT, 2-2 FT

Hunter earned himself an A- grade purely out of his excitement factor. He continued to impress with his passing and somehow managed to steal the ball four times. His three-point shot, according to Brian Scalabrine, looked somewhat off during practice, but it looked nice last night.

Kelly Olynyk: B+

11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, +13

4-6 FG, 2-4 3PT, 1-2 FT

Olynyk looked good last night and had some nice passes with his projected frontcourt mate, Amir Johnson. As long as Olynyk can stay consistent from three, run the floor and continue improving his passing, he’ll receive consistent minutes every game.

Jae Crowder: B

11 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, +7

4-8 FG, 0-1 3PT, 3-3 FT

Crowder had himself a very Jae Crowder night. By that I mean he played well – especially defensively – but didn’t put up stats. That’s just the type of player Crowder is.

Tyler Zeller: B- 

9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, +10

3-8 FG

Zeller’s jump shot looked a bit off but his little turnaround jump hook is still a very nice part of his offensive arsenal.

Jonas Jerebko: B-

5 points, 3 rebounds, +11

1-1 FG, 1-1 3PT, 2-4 FT

Jerebko did some of the Celtics’ blue-collar work as he was just re-signed to do. His three turnovers stuck out but his +11 +/- shows his contributions don’t always stand out on the stat sheet.

Jared Sullinger: C-

3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, -8

1-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 0-0 FT

Four fouls in 12 minutes does not reflect well on Sullinger’s highly-publicized summer workouts. It shows he’s still too un-athletic to defend without fouling out before the game’s over. His 1-8 from the field was ugly too, but I’m willing to look past that since most players struggle with their shooting during the preseason. However, I can’t look past his weight anymore. He’s grossly overweight and it shows in his piss poor play. If he doesn’t improve quickly, he’s in serious jeopardy of losing playing time to rookie Jordan Mickey. Things could get ugly real fast.

Incompletes: James Young, Jordan Mickey, Perry Jones III

Next: The Celtics' Second-Unit Is Just As Good As Their Starters

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