Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics: Grading Boston Celtics' Performance

Bryan Toporek@@btoporekFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2013

Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics: Grading Boston Celtics' Performance

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    The Boston Celtics' starters didn't get off were slow out of the gate, but their bench helped right the ship.
    The Boston Celtics' starters didn't get off were slow out of the gate, but their bench helped right the ship.David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    The Boston Celtics faced off against the Brooklyn Nets' JV squad tonight and emerged with a 101-97 victory in Beantown.

    All five of the Nets' projected starters—Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez—got the night off against Boston. That opened the door for Shaun Livingston, Jason Terry, Alan Anderson, Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee to strut their stuff.

    The Celtics got off to a brutal 0-5 shooting start and found themselves facing a 7-0 deficit two minutes into the game, but their bench helped right the ship. Granted, a large part of that can be attributed to the starter-less Nets having to dip much further into their bench than they typically would.

    Despite the C's early struggles, there were some bright signs to be taken from this game. Check out how each of the team's starters and the overall bench fared.

Point Guard: Avery Bradley, C

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Avery Bradley has been forced into handling full-time point guard duties while Rajon Rondo continues to rehab from his torn ACL. That didn't go so well tonight.

    Bradley quite simply isn't a natural point guard. He's a bulldog of a defender, which was on full display in this game, but he lacks the instincts to routinely find his teammates for open shots.

    In just over 20 minutes on the court, Bradley only notched two assists on the night, one of which came on a steal. He only turned the ball over once, which you like to see from a starting point guard, but he struggled elsewhere.

    The fourth-year guard finished the night with 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting, including two missed attempts from three-point range. Phil Pressey might force his way into more playing time if Bradley can't orchestrate the offense more effectively.

Shooting Guard: Jeff Green, B-

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    With Paul Pierce now in Brooklyn, the Boston Celtics need Jeff Green to step into Pierce's former role this season as the team's primary wing scorer.

    He demonstrated the requisite aggressiveness in tonight's showdown with the Brooklyn Nets, earning six free throws in the first quarter alone. He badly struggled finishing through contact on his trips into the paint, though, shooting only 2-of-7 from the field on the night.

    Celtics coach Brad Stevens stumbled upon the Green-Gerald Wallace combination during the team's preseason loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 20 and clearly liked what he saw. He decided to trot out Green as the C's starting 2 and Wallace as the starting 3 tonight, a clear counter to the NBA's trend of going smaller.

    Green will need to beef up his three-point game if he's going to earn the starting 2 job permanently (he missed his only three-point attempt tonight). If opponents don't have to respect his long-range game, it gives them that much more freedom to pack the paint and clog up driving lanes.

    Also of note: Green injured his left arm early in the fourth quarter during a shot attempt. He briefly went to the locker room for further examination, but came back to the C's bench about midway through the fourth.

Small Forward: Gerald Wallace, B+

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Gerald Wallace got off to a brutal start against the Brooklyn Nets tonight, notching two quick fouls and two turnovers within the first six minutes of the game.

    For a guy who recently called his teammates' effort into question, as reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast SportsNet, Wallace couldn't have looked much worse in the first quarter.

    He got it going from there, though, notching four points, four assists and two rebounds by halftime. He remained reinvigorated, knocking down all three of his third-quarter shot attempts, including a nifty backdoor baseline cut.

    Wallace routinely made hard cuts throughout the game, setting the tone for his teammates in terms of intensity. The Jeff Green-Wallace combo at the 2 and the 3 appears to have some legitimate potential as long as one of them can help space the floor with three-point shooting.

Power Forward: Kelly Olynyk, C

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Kelly Olynyk was the only Boston starter who couldn't crack double-digit scoring against the Brooklyn Nets.

    Olynyk did knock down one of his two three-point attempts on the night, showing off the shooting range that made him a late lottery pick in the 2013 draft. He also unleashed a wicked crossover in the final minute of the game, helping the Celtics extend their lead to seven, but he struggled offensively before that.

    Defensively, Olynyk remains a major work in progress. He notched a steal, but otherwise looked somewhat stone-footed on defense, allowing Andray Blatche to drain a three-pointer right in his face in the opening minutes of the game.

    On the bright side, after battling foul trouble for most of the preseason, Olynyk only got tagged with one personal foul on the night. Consider that the silver lining in an otherwise mostly forgettable performance from the former Gonzaga big man.

Center: Vitor Faverani, A

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Vitor Faverani was easily the Boston Celtics' brightest spot in tonight's game, continuing a strong stretch of preseason play for the Brazilian big man.

    In the first quarter alone, Faverani had five points, including one made three-pointer, four blocked shots and three rebounds. He's still somewhat rough around the edges, but he appeared fully capable of holding his own defensively in the post.

    "My game is low post," he said after the Celtics' preseason loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 20, per Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe. "I try to work this way."

    Faverani finished the game with 15 points, seven boards and six blocks, easily earning the distinction of the Celtics' player of the game. If Faverani can keep performing like this, he might end up forcing Brad Stevens' hand when it comes to his big man rotation.

Bench: A-

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    After a slow beginning by the starters, the Boston Celtics' bench came in and helped turn the game around.

    Brandon Bass had his mid-range jumper working early, tying Avery Bradley for the team lead in scoring (16 points on 6-of-10 shooting). He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in only 17 minutes.

    Jordan Crawford showed some nice passing ability early, believe it or not, but had a brutal shooting night (1-of-8 from the field and 0-of-5 from three). Courtney Lee outplayed Crawford, notching nine points on 3-of-7 shooting (including two threes), four assists, two rebounds and two steals in just 16 minutes.

    Though the box score might not suggest it, Phil Pressey was the Celtics' most intriguing bench player tonight. Pressey capitalized on Avery Bradley's struggles to run the team's offense efficiently, notching four assists in only 10 minutes of playing time.

    "I think we play at a different pace when Phil's in the game," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said during his brief interview between the third and fourth quarters.

    The rookie likely isn't a threat to replace Bradley in the starting lineup anytime soon, but the Pressey-Bradley battle bears watching in the coming weeks.