While the Boston Celtics did register their second win of the preseason, Friday’s drubbing of the Orlando Magic had a much different feel than the preseason’s first game this past Sunday.
There were lineup changes aplenty in Friday night’s Boston Celtics-Orlando Magic preseason affair at the Amway Center. Kemba Walker was absent with a sore knee, an injury that shouldn’t keep him out of action for long. That allowed Marcus Smart to be inserted into the starting point guard spot.
Daniel Theis also had his first crack at earning the starting center position. He did not disappoint in the 14 minutes he saw out on the floor.
What were some of the main takeaways of an emphatic 100-75 Celtics victory?
1. Daniel Theis looks to be a well-rounded potential starting option
If you think about it, the writing may have been on the wall for Daniel Theis to be in the running for a starting role, given the two-year, $10 million investment the Boston Celtics handed out this past offseason.
Enes Kanter received an identical deal, and that is with six more seasons under his belt. Theis has earned the trust of Danny Ainge, who plucked him out of Europe and inserted him onto two Boston Celtics teams that won at least 48+ games in each of the past two seasons.
After missing the preseason opener, Theis earned the starting nod and turned in a well-balanced stat-line, scoring four points, grabbing nine rebound, and dishing three assists in limited run (his 14 minutes were by far the lowest out of every starter).
With Kanter all but assured to serve as a sixth-man, Theis did more to stand out than Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier, who continued having quiet preseasons.
2. Marcus Smart’s shooting continues to improve
Marcus Smart as en fuego in the first half of the Boston Celtics romp of Orlando. His 4/5 shooting spurred a 62-34 halftime lead. He was so confident out on the hardwood that he pulled a Steph Curry-esque look-away on one of his 3-point attempts.
In Walker’s stead, Smart proved he could serve as a second-unit facilitator, dishing out four assists in 21 minutes. He was his usual aggressive self on the defensive end, but showed a poise in his shot that hasn’t been seen before.
Could his experience with Team USA have given Smart swagger? Playing alongside some of the league’s premiere talents seems to have given him an additional edge. If this is the Smart the Boston Celtics get this season, there could be a deep playoff run in Beantown’s future (in lieu of the Boston Red Sox failing to defend their crown).
3. The rookies continue to show potential, with limitations
It’s accepted that there is a tremendous burden on the Boston Celtics 2019 rookie draft class. After impressive showings in game one, Carsen Edwards and Grant Williams showed up in the scoring column Friday night, though they didn’t do much damage elsewhere. Edwards chipped in nine, while Williams reached 10 points on the night in 18 and 17 minutes respectively.
Edwards failed to deliver a single assist during his time on the floor against the Magic, and Williams grabbed just two rebounds after grabbing nine against Charlotte.
The biggest story Friday in the rookie department was fellow draftee Romeo Langford. His shot was shoddy, as he delivered just two points on the night in 11 minutes. He added three rebounds to his final line.
As for the other rookies, second round pick and two-way contract player Tremont Waters continued to look comfortable on the floor, with six points and three assists in his 11 minutes. Tacko Fall was scoreless during his garbage time minutes.
They look promising, but it may take a bit (as it does for NBA rookies) before the team’s most junior members to be well-rounded contributors.