So I’m a little surprised that the Celtics have given up 105, 104, 118, and 110 points in their first 5 games, especially when Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley have been defensive ballhawks. That was my first concern when watching and then looking back on the Celtics’ loss to the Raptors tonight, but then I was even more surprised to know that the Celtics sit atop the Eastern Conference in points scored per game, at 107.8. Now, there are 2 caveats to that. First, it’s 4 games. Second, the 121 point thrashing against the swiss cheese Brooklyn Nets defense (except KG of course) brings up that average by a lot.
Sidenote on the Nets: Those draft picks the C’s got in the Pierce-Garnett trade are gonna be absolutely huge. The Nets have looked ok in their 3 games since the opening night loss to Boston, but everyone knows that they won’t be “ok” for that much longer. KG is probably gonna retire or leave Brooklyn after his contract ends next July, and Brook Lopez can opt out. If he does, they’ll have a maximum of about $10 million in space, depending on the cap, which isn’t enough for someone who could actually turn them into a title contender. Joe Johnson’s contract expires the next year, so here’s to hoping that he doesn’t have an amazing contract year for one final push, which would move back the Celtics’ 2016 draft pick in the Nets’ spot. But even if that happens, I’m not too worried. The Celtics’ draft picks are gonna be awesome, and Danny Ainge can probably cash them in for a blue chipper or 2 anyway.
Given that 4 games is an incredibly small sample size, do we read anything into the team’s defensive struggles? I’m gonna say no, because there’s not much that’s surprised us. Marcus Smart is good but has a ways to go. Avery Bradley is a beast defensively but won’t be a superstar. Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are fine, but there’s a reason that Flip Saunders laughed at the idea that they’d get the Kevin Love trade over the hump. But Rajon Rondo is really good. That was the only question that we had, and he’s back to the way he was 3 years ago. So there’s that.
The 2014-2015 Celtics won’t wow anybody, but at least they’ll be more fun to watch and far more competitive than last year. I’m cool with that.
PS: Why isn’t James Young playing more? Dude was the 17th pick… that’s not exactly horrible, and it’s not like the C’s are gunning for a top playoff seed. Brad Stevens knows better than I do, of course, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the kid get some reps.