Celtics forward Jared Sullinger lies face down on the court after a play with Raptors power forward Tyler Hansbrough in the second half of Monday's 97-89 preseason loss to Toronto at TD Garden. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Celts' plan: Play hard, don't win too much
And after coaching his first NBA game, Stevens said he would endeavor to get better, noting how the flow of the professional game is different, what with the additional eight minutes and all. He said he has some things of his own on which to improve.
You hate to clash with the coach after just one measly game — a preseason one at that — but the strong feeling here is that Brad Stevens is just plain wrong.
I think this was perfect.
I think Stevens has the game plan down cold. He is, as advertised, one smart dude.
The Celts played hard.
They played together.
They were competitive.
And they lost.
Once the Celtics made their series of offseason moves, crossed the roundball Rubicon and put into storage their realistic hopes of contending for the next NBA championship, the goals became abundantly clear. The quickest way for the Celts to get good — don't-make-any-vacation-plans-for-June good — is to develop the talent they have on hand to either keep or trade and make prudent deals to position themselves for salary cap flexibility.
On the downside here, the Raptors were able to roll up a 52-34 advantage on points in the paint and a 46-26 edge on rebounds. At halftime, the Celts had pulled down just six wayward attempts.
But as long as the Celtics are going to send power forwards to do a center's job, they will struggle against even the mid-level teams. Kris Humphries and Jared Sullinger can play well inside, but at a certain point, the physics win out.
The C's can help themselves in this situation by running more, and there is ample evidence they will be able to do that — even more so when Rondo gets back in the running and finds he has willing targets on the wings. But when it comes down to a possession game, the Celtics will be at the kind of disadvantage that makes a critical difference.
He's doing just fine.