Brad Stevens isn’t a fan of the Boston Celtics’ preseason schedule. Saturday night was an example of why.
The Celtics had already played three games in five days when their matchup with the New York Knicks tipped of at Mohegan Sun Arena, and it showed. The Knicks jumped ahead midway through the second quarter and did not look back en route to a 96-80 win.
“You learn a lot when you play four games in six days,” head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “It’s been, I’d say, more positive than not, but we’ve got a lot of room to improve.”
Ball distribution was an issue for the Celtics, whose team total of 12 assists was well below their preseason average (for contrast, they dished out 29 in Friday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors). Boston’s shooting also came back to earth, as the C’s shot more than 10 percentage points lower (37.5 percent) in the loss than they did in their 20-point blowout of the Knicks three days earlier.
Take a spin though a few bullet points from the game as the Celtics look forward to a much-needed day off.
— Those shooting struggles did not apply to Jared Sullinger. The forward, who finished with 15 points in 26 minutes, nailed each of his first five shots, finished 6-of-7 from the floor and hit all three of his four 3-pointers. Sullinger also added seven rebounds and handed out three assists.
— Marcus Thornton tied Sullinger for the team lead with 15 points but was not nearly as efficient. Thornton’s one hot streak came in the third quarter, when he scored on three consecutive Celtics possessions. Outside of that one-minute, 15-second span, he made just two of 12 field goals and missed all six of his threes.
— Kelly Olynyk did not play in the game after starting the first three, allowing some of the Celtics’ other bigs to get more significant playing time. One player who took advantage of that opportunity was Tyler Zeller, who put on his best showing of the preseason. Zeller sank both of his shots and four of his five free throws to finish with seven points while adding five rebounds and seemingly playing with a renewed confidence.
— Stevens said before the game that he wanted to give Joel Anthony and rookie Dwight Powell extended looks, but neither was able to make much of an impact. Anthony posted an uninspiring stat line of two points, four rebounds, one block, one steal and two personal fouls in 22 minutes, and Powell’s two points (both on free throws) came in garbage time. Powell also had the unenviable task of guarding Carmelo Anthony for a stretch and fared how you’d expect a rookie to against one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers.
Photo via Twitter/@nyknicks