The Celtics are set to become quite familiar with the Nets, with three matchups against Brooklyn in the next two weeks, one of which is the season opener on Oct. 26.
In the first of those three matchups Thursday in Brooklyn, a late surge sent the Celtics to victory, 100-97. Led by the unassuming five of Gerald Green, Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and R.J. Hunter, the C’s finagled a 6-0 run at the end of the game to grind out the victory.
Al Horford nearly had a double-double, finishing with nine rebounds to accompany his 13 points. Isaiah Thomas and Jonas Jerebko turned in 12-point performances.
For a full box score, click here.
The game had a more regular-season feel to it for a number of reasons. In his pregame press conference, coach Brad Stevens discussed that his rotation come the start of the season would be an “eight-plus-two” scenario, making time off the bench all the more difficult to grab.
As it turned out, just 10 players took the floor for the Celtics for the first 30-plus minutes of the game, with Green being one of the noticeable omissions up until that point.
Those who did see time, however, played with regular-season intensity.
The ball oftentimes was on the floor, with bodies in both green and white jerseys sprawled across the hardwood in attempt to maintain possession. Passing was in midseason form, as it was by and large crisp, quick and accurate.
Spending plenty of time at the point, Marcus Smart was an impressive ball distributor, managing four assists while defensively grabbing two steals. His shooting, however, remained a problem. He air-balled a 3-pointer, as well as bricking one off the back iron en route to four missed 3-pointers on as many attempts, while shooting 4-of-9 from the field overall. He finished with a tie for the team lead with 13 points.
Horford continued to make most everyone’s job on the floor easier, opening up space while owning the glass on both ends of the floor. The Horford-Amir Johnson frontcourt continued to jell, as Horford’s dominance on along the glass — especially defensively — enabled Johnson to help run the floor in transition. Periodically, Johnson would be the second player in the paint on a fast break, regardless of if he touched the ball or not.
Also linking up well were Smart and Brown. The most notable of the connections came in the second quarter when Smart sidearmed an alley-oop pass from the 3-point line to Brown, who finished the dunk.
Marcus Smart to Jaylen Brown ✈️ for the alley-oop slam! pic.twitter.com/kbzwlwLcWQ
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 14, 2016
Brown ended the night with 10 points and three assists.
The second and third units managed to not fall apart, given a two-point lead when entering the game with nearly 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the third. Instead, they took it and turned it into a three-point victory.
The Celtics get back in action at Madison Square Garden on Saturday against the Knicks.