Much better: Celtics cruise 111-81 over Knicks (full recap)
Posted by Tom Westerholm on Oct 13, 2013
For the past week and a half, Brad Stevens has been preaching the importance of a solid start, and he finally got one.
Playing against the New York Knicks’ JV team, the Celtics – who really needed a win — came out strong in the first half. After letting the lead slip late in the second quarter, they pulled away again in the third and the fourth to improve to 1-3 in the preseason.
Naysayers will argue that the win means very little since the Knicks fielded a team that couldn’t beat the 76ers. To those naysayers I have this to say: You make a valid argument, sir or ma’am.
But just because the win didn’t mean much doesn’t mean the play meant nothing (which, incidentally, is the fundamental argument for why preseason matters). The Celtics looked much better, particularly shooting the ball. ESPN’s box score list Boston as having scored just five transition points, which is misleading. Boston may not have scored a lot of points by creating traditional fast breaks, but by pushing the ball frequently, they didn’t allow New York to get set defensively and frequently scored in delayed transition.
Let’s do some bullet points:
- After looking tentative in the first three games as a shooter, Kelly Olynyk was 5-for-6 including 1-for-2 from 3-point range against New York. One of his three assists was also the pass of the night: A bullet from behind the arc in between two defenders which found Vitor Faverani for a layup in the fourth quarter.
- Arguably the strangest subplot of the preseason so far has been Jordan Crawford, whose (well-deserved) reputation as a gunner has been at odds with his play of the last week. Last night, Crawford dished out three assists in 26 minutes, but that stat doesn’t really speak to his distribution as several passes to the interior led to fouls and free throws. What’s more, his shot selection was solid. Of his seven shots, only one was a long two (and he made it). He was 5-for-7 from the field, and five of his of shot attempts were 3-pointers. If Brad Stevens can save the career of Jordan Crawford, can we all agree he’s coach of the year?
- Scoring 21 points in 32 minutes, Ike Diogu chewed up Boston inside. We know Boston has no rim protection, even though Olynyk, Sullinger and Humphries are all adept at taking charges, but when Diogu attacked the glass (five offensive rebounds), the Celtics weren’t able to do much.
- Once again, to drive home the point about New York’s JV lineup, Tim Hardaway Jr., Ike Diogu and Toure’ Murry were the only Knicks who received more than 30 minutes last night.
- Jeff Green was 3-for-12 from the floor, but he splashed a pair of corner 3-pointers, which was encouraging, and he was one of four Celtics starters who were +20 or more in +/-.
- Until last night, Phil Pressey’s total assist to turnover ratio was 12/1. Pressey had a bit of an off night, but his ratio remains 13/4 (4.3/1.3 per game, 7.2/2.2 per 36 minutes) which is extremely good.
- Jared Sullinger, who arguably has been MVP of the preseason for Boston, had a pretty quiet night, scoring 12 points in 22 minutes. He did, however, go to the line seven times, which was nice to see, and he hit one of the 3-pointers Stevens has reportedly been encouraging him to take.
- Avery Bradley was 6-for-10 from the field. I’m guessing it’s no coincidence that he had a good game when Jordan Crawford and Phil Pressey mostly handled the point, allowing Bradley to pick his spots offensively.
- After a DNP-CD on Friday, Marshon Brooks had a solid game against New York, including a nasty move that prompted Jordan Crawford to scream “Put him in a blender!” according to Jay King of MassLive.com.
Now that we have a few games behind us, we’ll take a look at some of the more interesting offensive sets with which Stevens has been experimenting later this week. But for now, it’s good for the Celtics to have the winless monkey off their backs. Next up: Brooklyn on Tuesday. Since the game is in Brooklyn, it’s possible we’ll see — for the first time — Paul Pierce playing against the Boston Celtics. Prepare yourselves accordingly.
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