Celtics-Knicks Live: Kelly Olynyk Leads Balanced Effort as C’s Earn First Win of Preseason 111-81

Jeff Green, Iman Shumpert liveblogFinal, Celtics win 111-81: Brad Stevens will not go 0-90 after all.

After three unsuccessful tries, the Celtics finally got a preseason victory and the first unofficial win of Stevens’ tenure. With a balanced attack spearheaded by their defense and backcourt, the Celtics never allowed the Knicks to lead and held off a New York push in the second quarter to lead by as many as 37 points.

Kelly Olynyk led six Boston players in double figures with 15 points. Brandon Bass and Jordan Crawford each had seven rebounds and four Celtics tallied four assists, all team highs. The Celtics held a 45-34 rebounding advantage and 19-11 assists advantage.

The Knicks hardly passed the ball, which is part of why they committed only 14 turnovers. Their only real offensive threat was Ike Diogu, who accumulated 21 points and eight rebounds off pure hustle.

The Celtics now are now halfway through their preseason schedule with a 1-3 record. They will be back on the court Tuesday in Brooklyn against the Nets.

Fourth quarter, 6:38, Celtics 103-72: Well, you can safely flip over to the ALCS now. (I know you were glued to the Celtics game until now.) Just be sure to keep this live blog up to keep tabs.

Pressey is a heck of a ballhandler, but one of the more underrated skills a point guard can have is the over-the-top pass. Pressey showed that with a three-quarters court pass to a streaking Faverani, who was fouled. Heads-up plays like that have allowed the Celtics to build their largest lead thus far at 31 points.

Fourth quarter, 9:49, Celtics 91-71: We haven’t actually seen MarShon Brooks as much as we expected. That may be because Pressey, Bradley, Crawford and Lee have just played so well. Brooks is clearly fifth in the pecking order in that group.

However, Brooks did make a nice play to go coast-to-coast and convert a right-handed layup on the left side. The Knicks needed a timeout with the Celtics pushing their lead to 20 points.

End of third quarter, Celtics 83-67: Bradley has quietly done a very good job after three rough games as the primary ballhandler. The backcourt of him and Crawford has produced 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Crawford’s four turnovers are a problem, but Bradley has committed only one turnover thus far and as shown a usable pull-up jumper.

On the other side, Toure Murry has done some nice things in the Knicks’ backcourt. The former D-Leaguer has logged 19 minutes and scored 14 points, providing pretty much all of New York’s backcourt scoring. Tim Hardaway Jr. is having a rough shooting night, going just 2-for-11 so far, while Prigioni is 0-for-4.

Third quarter, 5:36, Celtics 72-51: In an effort to speed up the game, the NBA has made it a point of emphasis to stop offensive players from tapping the ball after it goes through the hoop. It’s now a delay of game warning.

The unfortunate upshot is that it actually may slow the game down. The Celtics have been called for four such delays of game, getting hit with two technicals. Bass in particular has had bad luck. He has been boxing out underneath when the ball simply fell into his hands. There is no gray area, though: It’s all a delay of game.

Halftime, Celtics 52-43: After Pressey and the gang’s near-comeback earlier this week, the Celtics should know better. A collection of unsigned scrubs and undrafted players helped narrow the gap for the Knicks in the second quarter, just as the Celtics’ group did in fourth quarter in Providence.

Bass is in foul trouble with four personals and the Knicks are just plain working harder around the hoop. Ike Diogu was the main man in the Knicks’ push, using his girth to outmuscle Sullinger on the block. The former Sun Devil has a team-high 13 points.

The Celtics became much less focused after a hot start. Bass’ defense gave way to foul issues, Green created shots for others with three assists but was 1-for-6 from the floor himself and Crawford, who leads the Celtics with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists, has committed three turnovers. In fact, the Celtics’ 10 turnovers — compared to five for the Knicks — are a major reason the Celtics only lead by nine despite shooting 54.5 percent and holding the Knicks to just 31.8 percent shooting.

The Celtics were able to create more breathing room after allowing New York to get as close as three points, but they will need to keep it going in the second half to protect what could be their first win of the preseason.

Second quarter, 6:33, Celtics 36-24: Boston’s veterans had a disappointing first three games, but they have looked much sharper here.

Not only are Green and Bass playing better, but Lee has found his stroke as well. The sixth-year guard has hit two midrange jumpers off the bounce as a three-guard lineup of Brooks, Crawford, Lee, Olynyk and Humphries has kept the Celtics comfortably ahead.

Second quarter, 8:47, Celtics 33-18: The Celtics are maintaining their wide lead and it all starts with defense. Phil Pressey and Courtney Lee are pressuring the Knicks’ ballhandlers and making it tough for the Knicks’ skeleton crew to get into its sets.

Olynyk even got into the action when he picked off a pass at the top of the key and tried to race in for a fastbreak layup. The ball was knocked away from behind, though, giving the rookie a chance to attempt a belated flop to try to get the foul call. He didn’t but it was still fun to watch.

End of first quarter, Celtics 28-15: The evolution of Brandon Bass into a defensive beast has been amazing to watch. The Louisiana native was known as a major weak link on defense when he came to Boston two years ago. Now he might be their best defensive big man.

Obviously, that is not saying much, since Kris Humphries, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger are anything but defensive standouts right now. But Bass has now added some solid back-line maneuvering to his already solid on-ball defense. His reliability on that end may make it even harder for Stevens to take Bass and his deadly 18-foot jump shot off the court.

There are some serious technical issues at the Verizon Wireless Center, which is bad news for the sponsor. There have been two stoppages to deal with a malfunctioning shot clock, and stats are no longer being updated. We’ll do our best to provide you with updates based on what we see — so if you’re a stats-only numbers geek, you’ll probably find the rest of this live blog pretty boring.

First quarter, 6:06, Celtics 18-4: Maybe the Celtics have just been saving all their made shots for New Hampshire.

The Celtics came screaming out of the gate to take a 10-0 lead and didn’t take the foot off the gas. Every member of the starting lineup has scored, led by Crawford and Bradley with five points each.

Crawford gave the first hint it was going to be that kind of night when he drilled a 26-footer with plenty of time left on the shot clock. They’re 4-for-4 from deep as a team.

6:55 p.m.: Bogans will join another ex-Net, Gerald Wallace, on the bench against the Knicks. Coach Brad Stevens apparently wants to give Wallace a breather on the second leg of a back-to-back.

The starting lineups are below.

Knicks
Andrea Bargnani
Josh Powell
Iman Shumpert
Tim Hardaway
Pablo Prigioni

Celtics
Jared Sullinger
Brandon Bass
Jeff Green
Avery Bradley
Jordan Crawford

6:20 p.m.: The Celtics will be at least one more man down for the remainder of the preseason. Keith Bogans, who left Friday’s game with a hand injury, told reporters in Manchester that he had a sprained right thumb.

He could miss two weeks, which would leave him sidelined for the remainder of the preseason, but he also told MassLive’s Jay King that he will have the thumb looked at again on Monday.

8 a.m. ET: Maybe the fourth time will be a charm.

The Celtics’ quest for their first preseason win got a bit easier when Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Carmelo Anthony, Metta World Peace and Raymond Felton would all get the night off for the exhibition in Manchester, N.H. There was no immediate word Friday night whether all the Celtics’ regulars would play in their fourth preseason contest in a six-day span.

On one hand, Saturday’s game is the back end of a preseason back-to-back and there is no use grinding Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace and other main guys into the ground. On the other hand, the Celtics have looked disjointed at times in their first three preseason games and could use all the fine-tuning they can get on the court.

Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Read More:

Five Takeaways From the Celtics’ Preseason Loss to the 76ers

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