BOSTON — Evan Turner’s goal this season is to be a singles hitter who studies film like Peyton Manning.
Confused? Let us break it down.
Turner has been asked to learn a new offense and relearn an old position — point guard — since joining the Celtics this summer. That’s a lot for a player who came to Boston without high expectations.
So, head coach Brad Stevens is teaching the 25-year-old swingman to keep things simple.
“Just hit singles,” Turner said, echoing his coach’s advice, “and your talent’s going to take over.”
That’s exactly what happened Monday night.
One day after what Stevens called Turner’s best practice of the preseason, the former No. 2 draft pick arguably was the Celtics’ best player in his first game in green, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 98-78 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I was just trying to make plays,” Turner said. “Get in the paint and take what the defense was giving me. I think our defense picked up, and that led to our offense, and everything just started clicking.”
With Jeff Green out nursing an injured calf, Turner saw significant time at both the three — where he started the game — and the one against the Sixers. He exhibited some of the expected preseason rustiness (Stevens noted one open-look 14-footer he failed to bury), but he proved to be a capable floor general, although his possessions tended to develop a bit more slowly than those captained by fellow point guard Marcus Smart.
“He had the ball in his hands most of the first six days at practice and then I started him at the three (Monday night),” Stevens said. “Unfair to him, but the way the world works when Jeff can’t play or (Rajon) Rondo’s out. You just have to kind of figure it out.”
Versatility will have to be Turner’s middle name if he hopes to be a nightly contributor for the Celtics, who will rely on multifaceted role players in lieu of superstar talent. His coach believes he is up for the challenge.
“I don’t know if we have a person who watches more film than (Turner) does,” Stevens said. “He wants to be really good. When we signed Evan, one of the things I was most excited about was I know him. I know what he’s about. I know his makeup. I know all the good things he can do on a basketball court. I think you add that to a little chip on somebody’s shoulder, maybe it can add up to some pretty good things with his work ethic.”
Turner said the film study that has been a staple of his routine since high school has only intensified with his added workload this preseason. The key, he says, is being ready for anything.
“The whole thing is preparing,” Turner said. “Coach definitely helped me a lot at practice (with that preparation). Sometimes in the past, it would just be like, ‘Evan, go play the one,’ you know, randomly. Sometimes, you really have to have a rhythm for it, so I’ve been preparing. I think that with each day that comes, I’ve been slowing it down a little better.”
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