Celtics Fans Get Their First Look Into the Future
On September 30th, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Celtics open practice and watch the scrimmage (a big thanks goes to my editor on that one). While I was able to have fun there, I also was there with a purpose of taking notes and seeing how the Celtics look so far. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Before the team even started warm ups, many from the Celtics front office as well as their coaches were signing autographs and talking to fans. One person I was able to speak to was legendary former Celtics power forward/center Brian Scalabrine. When he came over to me I asked him how he feels about the Celtics this season. Scalabrine replied, “I would give them two thumbs up, and you can quote me on that.” I would say Scalabrine would know a thing or two about good basketball teams, so I think that’s a great indication of the Celtics position.
Another former player I was able to speak to was former power forward Leon Powe. When he came around, i talked to him about his feelings on the Celtics this season and his thoughts. Powe told me, “Everyone on the team is very comfortable with each other. Horford coming over is a very big deal and he’s learning the offense and defense styles we do very quickly. Him and everyone else is very excited for the season to start and make Boston proud.”
Next I noticed was that Kelly Olynyk was at the practice, which I was not expecting because of his shoulder injury. He was participating in warmups practicing his drive to the rim, defending, dunks and even the occasional three point shot. His shoulder didn’t appear to be bothering him as he seemed very involved and energetic. Despite this, he didn’t participate in the team’s scrimmage and often rubbed his shoulder while talking to the coaches. To me it seemed that maybe his shoulder was still causing him some discomfort, but this shouldn’t be much of a surprise as he is still expected to miss a few weeks of the beginning of the season.
A big presence at the practice was none other than the Celtics biggest free agent signing of the summer, Al Horford. He and Olynyk were both out their during warm ups, and often were seen helping each other out. Horford seemed to be in sync with everyone else, and was on point during the drills.
Once both Horford and Coach Stevens finished their speeches, Avery Bradley was was awarded first team defensive team player. He was very excited to receive this award, and he told the audience that he “…wants the entire NBA to view him as one of the best – if not the best – defenders in the league.”
After the speeches and the award, it was time to get the scrimmage underway. They started off by introducing the rookies first, then the backups, and finally the starters. The teams were the Green team vs the White team. The first round of the scrimmage was the starters who played on the Green team vs the backups who played on the White team. An important thing I noticed is that Horford was on the Green team while Olynyk was on the White team. Horford seemed to be playing very well, moving the ball around very well and playing great defense. Isaiah Thomas was playing great, making some great 3 point shots and drawing good fouls. He looked much better in the paint than he was last season, getting in some nice layups. He didn’t miss a single free throw either. Marcus Smart played great on both sides of the ball too, he had 10 points when the first quarter came to an end. Jae Crowder was playing really tough defense by getting some greats stops and rebounds.
When the first quarter was done, the lineups were changed. Almost everyone on both teams was replaced by the rookies, minus a few backups here and there. A key rookie that really stood out to me was Jaylen Brown. He was often on a fast break bringing it in for a slam dunk, and he moved very quickly. His defensive play was great by getting the rebounds and running down the court. He seemed like a great fit on the team and looked like he was ready to start the season. Rozier also was playing some great defense and helped get some fantastic defensive stops.
Overall the team seemed like they were all coming together in great fashion, and hopefully they can keep up the energy and powerful performance throughout the season.