With one week of NBA preseason in the books for the Boston Celtics, they finished with a 2-2 record on a count of playing 4 games in 4 different cities in a 6 day period. Preseason usually downplays the issues of a young and rebuilding team, but the Celtics have played solid basketball so far even without the presence of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. It is still too early to tell how the Celtics will look heading into the regular season, but we can all remain optimistic that a potential playoff berth is still a possibility. There are a lot of new faces in Boston and a lot of those players are fighting to keep their NBA dreams alive or just fighting to stay on an NBA roster. The Celtics don’t play another game until this Wednesday night up in Portland, Maine when they face the Toronto Raptors for the second time. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a glance at how the Celtics fared in week one of the preseason.
Boston’s only free agent signing this summer was Evan Turner and he is playing exactly how I remembered him playing back at Ohio State. The signing was beneficial for both parties and Turner is proving to be a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Celtics, who badly needed a versatile wing player for a cheap cost last season. Turner showcased his skills during the Celtics’ first preseason win against his former team, the 76ers pouring in 15 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. It’s looking like Turner’s main role will be the first swingman off the bench who comes in and runs the offense during the regular season. Turner is earning his respect from Brad Stevens and that will only boost his confidence as the season progresses.
The Celtics are going to need a breakout season from Jared Sullinger if they want to stay competitive all year long, and his preseason play is very solid. Sullinger poured in 23 points during last Wednesday’s win against an overmatched Knicks frontcourt and grabbed 13 rebounds in last Monday’s win against the 76ers. Jeff Green was Boston’s ideal go-to scorer for most of last season, but he had some struggles on certain nights. If Sullinger can keep his shooting stroke going, he could become Boston’s main go-to scorer for the immediate future. The Celtics still have an overcrowded frontcourt, but seeing Sullinger earn his minutes and dominate the game on both offense and on the glass really gives Boston a reason to have hope.
Boston’s first draft pick Marcus Smart didn’t make a field goal in his first preseason game, but his defensive presence in the backcourt is already looking like he is All-Star potential. Marcus Smart’s defensive game is unlike any other rookie that I’ve ever seen. Most rookies struggle on the defensive end, but Smart is tough and quick enough to cause a nightmare for opposing point and shooting guards. He can fight through screens, has the capability for coming up with loose balls and can apply full court pressure when the timing is appropriate. He can also take charges, which is rare for a guard. Despite his scoring struggles in his first game, he has been scoring close to 10 points per game ever since. I’m going to call this now, Marcus Smart will win Rookie of the Year this year.
The Celtics have 4 games left in their preseason and time is running out to fix any issues that need immediate attention. Once again it will be in 4 different cities (Portland, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Boston) before the regular season opens on October 29th at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. I’m excited to see how the rest of the preseason will play out and wondering on which players will make the final cut. Preseason is normally about trial-and-error, but now everybody has to treat these remaining games as no more room for errors if they want to have a successful 2014-15 campaign.