The Celtics wrapped up the preseason with a 100-86 victory over the Nets at the TD Garden on Wednesday night (check out the box score here). Brooklyn rested its starters, while Rajon Rondo was out once again with a broken left hand for the Celtics.
Brad Stevens only played starters Jeff Green and Avery Bradley in the first quarter, while Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger shined in their final tune up before the regular season.
Here are other reasons why you should have cared about the Celtics‘ preseason finale:
Marcus Smart had a very strong showing back in the starting point guard role
Smart opened up the game by swishing a 3-pointer out of the corner, which was nice for Celtics fans to see since shooting is one of his biggest weaknesses. However, Smart did a much better job of slashing through the lane than he has in previous games. He was able to connect on three layups in traffic, while also going 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Attacking the basket might be Smart’s biggest strength, so it was certainly positive to see him do so efficiently before the preseason came to an end.
Smart never saw the floor in the second half, but the damage was done. He racked up 16 points in just 15 minutes of action, adding four assists, a rebound and two steals. Perhaps most importantly, he did it on 5-for-8 shooting from the field — all three of his misses coming from downtown. Good things happen when Smart gets into the paint.
Jared Sullinger was a beast on the boards once again
Sullinger is a very good scorer, but he is a phenomenal rebounder. After ripping down 19 boards on Sunday, Sullinger grabbed 13 in the first half alone Wednesday. He finished the game with what is becoming a classic Sullinger stat line — 15 points and 17 rebounds. Sullinger did so while shooting 7-for-10 from the field in 26 minutes of action.
James Young returned from a hamstring injury
Young hurt his hamstring while warming up for the first preseason game, but kept that information to himself and ended up by playing in the game. Young posted 10 points in his debut, but then has missed each preseason contest since. He also didn’t play in a summer league game following a car crash.
The rookie wasted no time Wednesday, nailing a 3-pointer on his first possession in the game. He finished with just five points and four rebounds, but keep in mind it was just his second professional game. Young has plenty of room to grow this season.
This could be the last game without Rajon Rondo
Rondo was in uniform and warmed up with the team prior to the game. He obviously didn’t play, but he was shooting and dribbling with no brace on his left hand during warmups. Rondo has been working with the team during some contact drills in practice and now has a serious chance to play on opening night. His status won’t likely be known until next week, but signs are beginning to point to the Celtics kicking off the season with their star point guard after all.
Lottery change voted down
Finally, although it has nothing to do with this game, the league voted against a change in the current lottery system on Wednesday. The change would have given all of the teams in the lottery more even odds of obtaining one of the top picks. But, since it didn’t pass, the current system – that many believe promotes tanking — will remain in place this season. With the Celtics‘ expectations similar to where they were last season, lottery percentages based on seeding could come into play as the season progresses.
The Celtics finished the preseason with a 5-3 record and will open the regular season on Oct. 29 at home, also against the Nets.