Boston Celtics: Takeaways from Preseason Game vs. Knicks


The Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 99-85 Thursday night at the TD Garden. In the previous meeting between the two teams, the Knicks were victorious and handed the Celtics their only loss of the preseason. This was the last game the Celtics will play at the TD Garden before they open the season against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday October 28th. Here are my reactions to Boston’s fifth preseason win:

Is This the Starting Five?

The Celtics have not formally announced their starting lineup for opening night, but there is reason to believe that the lineup the team featured in this game is it. The Celtics started Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, David Lee, and Tyler Zeller. This was the third game that coach Brad Stevens has started this group of players, so it seems like he has found something that works.

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The lineup has all the features of a solid starting five, including strong defense, keen playmakers, and scoring. I would not be surprised if in the next few days the Celtics formally announce that this is their starting lineup.

The Floor General is Here

Marcus Smart has demonstrated both in the summer league and in the preseason that he’s become a more well-rounded player . Smart dished 9 assists, 8 of which came in the first half of play. He did a nice job distributing the ball and looked at ease while leading the offense. Combined with his tendency to attack the rim more, Smart is starting to look like a completely different player. Check out his drive to draw the foul on Kristaps Porzingis:

Sullinger Showing Signs of Life

Jared Sullinger put together an encouraging performance after struggling for the majority of the preseason. Sullinger led the Celtics in scoring with 16 points in 18 minutes off the bench. He also added 8 rebounds and a preseason-high six assists. Sully was not perfect. He shot an ugly 4/10 from the charity stripe, which was his biggest weakness this game. All in all, this was a step in the right direction for Sullinger.

Crowder Earning His Spot

Jae Crowder proved once again that he deserves a spot in the starting five with another quality performance. Crowder scored 13 points on 4/6 shooting, including 3/4 from behind the arc. He also collected 7 rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 25 minutes.

As impressive as Crowder was on offense, he also played excellent defense on New York’s star Carmelo Anthony. He was the primary defender on Anthony, holding him to 8 points on 4/18 shooting from the field. Crowder is an underrated player and he might be one of the best defenders on the team.

Banged Up Bradley

Avery Bradley exited Thursday’s game in the third quarter after he bruised his shin trying to keep a ball inbounds. Bradley crashed into the first row seats and came up gingerly. This is definitely something to keep an eye on. Here’s the play where he injured himself:

Next: Boston Celtics: Highlights from the Fifth Preseason Game

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