BOSTON — The Celtics wrapped up their preseason slate on a positive note Wednesday night, handily defeating the Brooklyn Nets 100-86 in a rematch from Sunday. The victory was the third straight win for the Celtics overall in the preseason, as the team ends their exhibition campaign with a 5-3 record.
While the Nets rested all of their usual starters against Boston, Brad Stevens used the contest to get a final good look up-and-down his roster. Fourteen Celtics players all saw nine minutes or more of playing time, allowing the team’s coaching staff to evaluate a number of different lineup combinations within its deep roster. With that in mind, here are three things we learned from the “meaningless” action on Wednesday night.
1. Jared Sullinger loves playing the Nets.
Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett may be sidelined, but Sullinger still dominated Mason Plumlee and the rest of the Brooklyn front court for the second consecutive contest. Sullinger followed up his double-double on Sunday with an impressive encore, posting 15 points and 17 rebounds in just 27 minutes of action. A stiffer test likely awaits the third-year big man at the start of the regular season next week when the Nets starters return to the lineup, but a healthy Sullinger appears to be ready to surprise some people around the league after an up-and-down sophomore campaign.
2. Brandon Bass is the newest 3-point threat on the Celtics.
After specializing as a sharpshooting power forward from the mid-range for much of his career, Bass appears ready to add the 3-ball to his game this season on a consistent basis. The veteran hit one 3-pointer from the corner Sunday afternoon against Brooklyn, and followed suit by making another Wednesday night, looking confident in his two attempts from beyond the arc. While Bass may not be a part of Boston’s long-term rebuilding plans due to a young crowded front court, his improved range may help his trade value as the season progresses.
3. Marcus Smart finally showed some aggression…inside the 3-point line.
When it comes to scoring this preseason for the Celtics rookie, the point guard has lived outside the 3-point arc. Entering Wednesday’s game, 75 percent of Smart’s field goal attempts had been taken from 3-point range, a discouraging figure considering Smart was one of the best guard finishers in college last season.
Luckily, Smart showed some of that inside scoring ability against Brooklyn Wednesday. Smart finished three shots at the rim and earned a few trips to the free throw line as well in 16 minutes of action. With the Celtics lacking offensive players that can consistently create their own shot, Smart’s growth in this department will be crucial for the team’s development this season.
The Celtics open up the regular season against the Brooklyn Nets on October 29th at the TD Garden.