The Boston Celtics are viewed as one of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference going into the season, but one of the other five showed them that they aren’t an elite team. It was the Brooklyn Nets.
To be fair, Boston was playing arguably the best starting five in the league led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but it was clear if you watched the game that the Celtics aren’t on the level of the Nets. Durant, Irving, Joe Harris, and Caris LeVert all scored at least 14 points. On the other hand, the Celtics had only two players do that — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Boston’s depth will be a big question mark heading into the season, which starts on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Kemba Walker‘s absence due to a knee injury and Tristan Thompson‘s questionable status (hamstring) for the season opener will test that depth. Marcus Smart is filling in at point guard, which isn’t an ideal scenario from an offensive point of view, as Smart is mostly a defensive-first player. Smart scored just seven points on Friday night.
Boston was playing arguably the deepest team in the league, which exposed the Celtics’ weaknesses. The Nets bench combined for 52 points; the Celtics bench combined for 42 points. Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith — two rookies who are expected to log minutes during the regular season — combined for just 14 points (a combined 5-14).
Another concerning aspect is Boston’s struggle to score from behind the arc. As we know, the NBA has shifted to a three-point league so if you can’t keep up with great shooting teams then it will be difficult to win. The Celtics shot 18.2% from three-point range (8/44) while a great shooting team in the Nets made 43.2% of their threes.
This is the preseason so take all of this with a grain of salt but even in a preseason game, it wasn’t hard to tell that the C’s might struggle to keep up with the Bucks, Nets, 76ers, and Heat at least at the beginning of the season.
(Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)