Although the Celtics posted a 6-1 record over seven games in the preseason, I take it with a grain of salt. All teams, including the Celtics play long rotations as to mix and match players and see who complements who in regards to skill set, chemistry and what not. However, a few things became apparent. (I will use the last three games as my reference: 10/19 Nets, 10/22 Knicks and 10/23 76ers)
- Defense: The Celtics have clearly become a better defensive team amassing 9, 7 and 11 steals and 3, 5 and 9 blocks respectively against the Nets, Knicks and 76ers. Their starting back court of Smart, Bradley and Crowder look to give offenses fits. The three are active with their hands on defense. The #AmirEffect has given them a presence in the paint.
- Health: Knock on wood! The C's got through the preseason healthy. Yes, they encountered a bug over in Europe that lingered through the trip to New York but no physical injuries that sidelined anyone indefinitely.
- Next Man Up: There were different players in double figures in each of the three games I mentioned. This is good as it means no one is looking for their shots and serving up the hot hand.
- Rookies: The rooks played well throughout this post season. They seemed comfortable. Will any of them have the same first year impact as Marcus Smart? That remains to be seen.
- Situational: I am glad that the C's played well enough that situational plays didn't really factor in; such as the two-minute game of possession or last shot in-bounds plays. Speaking of which, it was brought up again how players marvel at Brad's off the cuff play calling and diagrams in time-outs. However, with the new faces, it would be nice to see them in real game situations.
- (Giving up Leads: Last year, the C's were historically bad at blowing 10+ point leads. (You might remember the Golden State game last year.) I know that was against the eventual champions but I am a firm believer if you want to be one of the elite teams, once you have a team on its heels, you need to finish them and not give them any hope. They had some good runs but tended to get away from what gave them those leads and let their opponents back in the game.
- Turnovers: The Celtics gave up 23 TO's in the game against the Nets. That's not going to win games, especially when your playing a team's starters which we didn't in that game. No excuse. We need to protect the ball better, period.
- Jared Sullinger Coast to Coast Plays: It seemed once a game, Jared would go coast to coast. I like Jared and I know there is some pressure for him to perform but going coast to coast is not what this team needs from him. Nor does it look pretty.
This team has a lot of potential, their depth being integral to their success.