The Boston Celtics wrapped up their slate of 2020-21 NBA preseason games with a 121 – 100 blowout loss to the Miami Heat that might not mean very much in terms of regular season record or even what we can expect from the team when games do count, but there are some things to be gleaned from the player’s play on a more granular level of analysis.
With the team’s season opener against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden coming on Wednesday, Oct. 20, which players at the end of rotation helped themselves in earning a bigger role? Did anyone do enough to likely secure their position on the roster? How do we feel about the heavy-minutes players?
Let’s give some grades to those who were on the floor long enough to warrant a closer look.
Walker claimed it took him by surprise despite rumbles he’d been angling for an exit from the Celtics earlier in the month. https://t.co/scIOeKuuzm
— The Celtics Wire (@TheCelticsWire) October 16, 2021
It wasn’t Hauser’s most efficient game shooting 1-of-5 from 3, but we’ve seen enough to know there’s a solid chance the Virginia product will be able to contribute more than many two way players will as a shooter.
How much of a chance he gets to do it will depend on his defense, which is frankly still very much a work in progress at the NBA level.
Kanter is great at what he does when it involves rebounding and cleaning up misses near the rim on the offensive end of the court (critics will no doubt point out often his own).
The switch-everything approach to defense is clearly not a good fit for his game, but we have yet to see the rare players he will excel against, and recognize that this is more or less what we’ll see from him most nights this season.
It might not seem like much, but Nesmith had a solid game in the run he had, shooting a very efficient 40% from the floor and 1-of-2 from 3 while providing high-energy play and respectable defense with the mistakes you’d expect for his career point.
The Vanderbilt product may well challenge for a starting role by season’s end given the lack of clarity about whether two big lineups with Al Horford at the four may work, but Nesmith had yet another solid game in the meantime.
Pinson had some moments where you could see him fitting well on this roster, even if his 1-of-7 shooting on the night may have convinced you it won’t be on the offensive end of the floor.
But in Boston’s deep backcourt, he won’t be asked to carry as much as he did, and despite the ugly efficiency, helped his case to earn a two way spot with the Celtics more than he hurt it.
Juancho wasn’t feeling it offensively, going 0-for-2 from the field and remaining quiet on that end, but found ways to help out a bit even still.
The team will need to work with him to carve out a role he’s comfortable in, but this was a fairly underwhelming if not outright awful performance from Hernangomez.
J Rich finally found his stroke as a Celtic, scoring 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting even while only hitting 33.3% from 3 on the night.
His defense solid as ever, he’ll need to find ways to get on the board consistently regardless of how his trey is looking, so this was a positive step forward.
Parker was uncharacteristically good on defense for much of the game, signaling perhaps a renewed interest in that end of the court befitting a player trying to salvage their significant potential.
But it took the wind out of his sails on offense, which may suggest a more rounded Parker is still in need of polishing.
On one hand, we saw how Schroder’s hard-nosed style of play fits well with the Celtics, but on the other we saw hints on how things could go sideways because of it with unsportsmanlike play distracting from the good things he did on the court.
Hopefully, we see more of the former and less of the latter, because German Rondo was one of Boston’s better players for much of the night.
Williams got the start in the absence of healthy bodies, and while he had a respectable game overall, Miami kept him from finding his rhythm as well on offense.
The Tennessee product does enough for what will be asked of him this season but has work to do before he’ll be ready for a bigger role as a four for the Celtics.
Langford’s performance was by far the most important of the game. Shooting 7-of-9 with confidence and 4-of-6 from deep, hinting that Boston may have its bench set between Payton Pritchard, Schroder, Nesmith, and Richardson with a little luck.
There’s still plenty of reason to doubt their consistency, but things are shaping up very nicely for the Indiana product and his bench mob peers as Langford adds offense to his already solid play on the other end of the ball.
A little too much shooting, talking to the refs, and perhaps even floortime in a preseason game (we won’t blame him for that last part, though), this wasn’t Tatum’s best game or even his B game.
But it was also preseason and he can score at will when he puts his mind to it and takes it to the rack; hopefully we see a tad more of that when the 3-ball isn’t falling as it was (2-for8) Friday.