The best way to gel is winning. Luckily, the Boston Celtics did only that in their 4-0 preseason run. Tuesday night in Cleveland, it was all about the rookies shining with the regular season starters staying home.
With Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter all resting for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night in Cleveland, the team’s youth had a big chance to be showcased in the preseason finale.
It turned out as well as can possibly hoped. The team fired on all cylinders behind the efforts of their 2019 draft picks as well as the un-drafted gems Danny Ainge hopes he has unearthed.
In typical Boston Celtics 2019 preseason fashion, the team picked up a blowout victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 23-point win (118-95) was the third lowest point differential of the preseason, to give you an idea of how ready the Celtics look for tip-off.
From here on out, the games count. Here is one last look at preseason action, as the Houdini gives 3 takeaways from Tuesday’s win…
1. The Boston Celtics look set at the point guard spot
With Walker and Smart out of the lineup, the Boston Celtics still were able to get the most out of their point guard spot. You could credit Brad Stevens’ offensive schemes that made Isaiah Thomas an MVP candidate, but at the end of the day a player needs to make shots.
Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters and Brad Wanamaker all did that in spades at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The point guard trio combined for a whopping 63 points. Edwards was responsible for 30 of those, and he converted at a 10/16 clip, draining eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone.
Waters had a more complete performance with 24 points and seven assists. Wanamaker had 11 points, four assists and three rebounds.
In not recording an assist, Edwards may have reinforced the notion that he is a combo guard with more of a lean towards the shooting guard spot. What he lacks in height, he more than makes up for in 3-point prowess.
Edwards showed he could be a 3-point specialist. His shooting outburst in the third quarter was special to say the least.
Distances on Carsen Edwards’ nine made 3-pointers Tuesday:
Average distance: 28.4 feet
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) October 16, 2019
This sort of performance is assuring to Boston Celtics fans who wondered whether or not the team had it together in the backcourt with such little NBA experience.
Those questions were given a rest, at least temporarily, Tuesday night.
2. Vincent Poirier is more ready than Tacko Fall
Vincent Poirier has more experience than Tacko Fall across the board: in the professional basketball ranks, on a guaranteed contract for the Boston Celtics and in life. The French center (25) has two years on the Senegalise supergiant (23).
Fall looked every bit of a project when he recorded just five points and two rebounds. Poirier, on the other hand, had a balanced output across the stat-sheet with eight points, six boards and three assists. Both played 18 minutes on Tuesday.
Both got more minutes than probably expected from Brad Stevens because of an injury to Robert Williams, who left the game in the opening moments. His injury is being evaluated tomorrow, less than a week in advance of opening night.
If he cannot play, and the Celtics needed to try to plug in a big body to prevent points, Poirier proved more capable of manning the middle off the bench than Fall. Luckily, most expected that, but Poirier proving it during an NBA in-game shows reinforces that notion.
3. Javonte Green is likely for the final roster spot
Tuesday night was the last chance for either Javonte Green or Max Strus to make their last stand arguments as to why they should get the final roster spot on the Boston Celtics. Like the case has been, it was Green who made the loudest statement.
After starting the preseason off flawless from the floor in his first three games, Green missed an attempt from the field Tuesday–but made plenty enough to not worry. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes, which in particular could convince Danny Ainge he needs that sort of rim-cleaning from the wing spots.
Strus was less than stellar, providing six points and two boards in 27 minutes of court-time. Simply put, Strus needed to overcome the fact that Green has shined in the preseason with a signature performance.
He did not accomplish that…which leaves Ainge with an easy decision. Green needs to be the man donning the white and green come opening night, while Strus should be a member of the Maine Redclaws.