Hornets Sting Celtics to In Pre-Season Opener

To kick off the pre-season the Boston Celtics opened against the Charlotte Hornets in the confines of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Under the college atmosphere, the Dean Dome was packed with not light blue shirts to start, but kelly green. Bostonians travel well to see their team now happy and healthy, and while they did not come away victorious, even in the closely contested 97-104 Hornets win did the Celtics walk away with all the more reasons to feel supremely confident going into what should be a stellar season.

The starters did not come out guns a blazing. For the entire game Boston’s issues shooting the ball primarily seemed that of rust. As a team they shot 19.1 per cent from deep; the starters finished 5 of 21 – third year perimeter player Jaylen Brown lead the starters with three makes from deep off eight attempts.

Outside of Kyrie Irving, the starters didn’t really impress. Gordon Hayward, who just under a month ago began competing in 5-on-5 scrimmages, did not seem sluggish running up and down the floor, but his timing defensively seemed off and his jump shot was anything but automatic. His less than ideal 2 for 7 shooting did not deter him from scoring 10 points mostly from the free throw line, of where he went 5 of 7 in 23-minutes on the floor.

Irving was the only Celtic who looked in control and settled early on. Breaking the ice early with a fantastic left handed lay-up, controlling his dribbling and body just perfectly to kiss it off the glass. Irving was afraid to let it fly, being that it’s the pre-season I do not know if i can blame him. Taking four long twos, 10 shots in total and six threes, the 26-year-old point guard had just 9 points as he was outplayed slightly by his UConn counterpart Kemba Walker.  

The stars of the game was the Celtics bench unit. Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris enjoyed the free flowing spacing that’s become a staple of Brad Stevens’ offense, using the exhibition nature of the contest to play a looser brand of individual basketball that wouldn’t be excused in a more competing setting. The two shoot-first bench players were 10 of 21 combined for 23-points. It was the bench units led by them, sparking a large 20-point Celtics lead with under 3-minutes left in the first half. Aided by Aron Baynes two solid putbacks off Celtic misses, Boston wasn’t pushed around on the boards until the very end when the end of the bench finished the game.

It was two-way contract player Walter Lemon Jr who scored Boston’s last five of their six points, as Charlotte put the clamps on Boston to edge them out in a good game that of course is very meaningless.

Robert Williams, Guerschon Yabusele and Brad Wanamaker moonlighted for a time very late, but didn’t do anything particular of note besides take spot up shots and set screens. Perhaps in the follow up matchup against these two teams on Sunday they’ll be more time for the end of the rotation personnel to shine.