Boston Celtics: 3 standout performers from C’s first preseason game

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Boston Celtics are back, and they showed out thoroughly earlier this week against the Magic at TD Garden.

In a 98-97 nail-biter headlined by Romeo Langford’s go-ahead 3-pointer and Jaylen Brown’s 25 points, we witnessed multiple changes brought upon by HC Ime Udoka and Brad Stevens’ newly constructed roster.

Although it was just a preseason game, it still produced many takeaways that can help formulate more accurate predictions for the Cs’ upcoming season.

The Boston Celtics took the floor with their usual top four but were joined by an unexpected newcomer: Juan Hernangomez! On top of his surprise start, Udoka played around with multiple lineups featuring no power forward, three-guard sets, and different players to complement his two foundational stars. The game was a little ugly, neither side hitting 100 points and the Celts shooting 35% from the field, but the fruit lies in the film.

Ime Udoka had the Celtics playing with effort and purpose in a preseason game against a team projected to headline the lottery, something we did not see on a game-to-game basis last season.

Let’s look at some key performers from the meaningless but riveting first outing from the Boston Celtics, beginning with their best player.

Boston Celtics SF/PF Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum looked terrific in his first game back with the Boston Celtics. Even though we saw Tatum not too long ago in the Olympics, it was refreshing to see everything Tatum said he would work on this summer translated directly to the court. He finished the game with 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and three steals on 6/16 shooting but got to the line five times in 25 minutes of action. Last season, we would be lucky to see Tatum hit the line that many times in a triple-overtime game, but clearly, this year will be different.

Tatum knows that his rim pressure is the key to unlocking his full offensive potential and helping the Celtics reach their goals. Against the Magic, he could be seen spinning out of the post and getting downhill off-ball screens instead of taking more challenging turnaround or pull-up jumpers. Now, Tatum still took both shots, but the importance is that he’s dialing back his tough shot volume for a healthier diet of paint shots.

The fifth-year forward is said to be anywhere from six-foot-eight to six-foot-ten, with a six-foot-eleven wingspan, and weighs approximately 210 lbs.

Either way, the guy is enormous.

At his size, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to live amongst the trees while also punishing defenders from behind the three-point line. If Jayson Tatum wants to take his game and the Boston Celtics to the next level, he needs to back up his words about getting to the rim. His first preseason game gives me great confidence he will.