Wednesday, December 7

6 takeaways from Celtics vs. Raptors as Sam Hauser, Malcolm Brogdon shine in loss


Celtics

Two fresh faces looked like excellent additions to the Celtics’ rotation on Wednesday.

Celtics Raptors
Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon drives to the basket against the Raptors. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The Celtics‘ regular rotation players built a big lead against the Raptors in their second preseason game on Wednesday, only to see Toronto’s bench rally in the fourth quarter and overtime for a 125-117 victory.

Here are the takeaways.

1. Malcolm Brogdon fits this team like Brad Stevens went to a tailor and ordered a role player. When the Celtics need offense, Brogdon can get to the rim. When they need creation, he excels as a passer finding 3-point shooters behind the arc (and as we’ll get to, the Celtics suddenly have a lot of 3-point shooters).

The Celtics’ bench offense desperately needed an injection of energy, creativity, and shot creation. Brogdon — who finished with a game-high nine assists as well as four points on Wednesday — brings all of that in a super-bench role.

At one point in the second quarter (when rotations might have still mattered), Mazzulla gave Brogdon a look with both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum off the floor. Joe Mazzulla’s job gets a lot easier if it turns out that Brogdon can keep the Celtics afloat even with Brown and Tatum on the bench, and — as Brogdon reminded reporters at Media Day — he was often a No. 1 offensive option with the Pacers.

2. Sam Hauser is automatic. The sharpshooter made his first four 3-pointers and five of his first six before missing a couple of contested looks later in the game when the Raptors didn’t have to respect the other players on the floor quite as much. Assuming he will get regular-season minutes — and his shooting suggest that’s a safe assumption — Hauser will get a lot of good looks this year.

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“He works really hard,” Mazzulla said. “Does a great job playing off of others and kind of taking what the defense gives him. So his confidence comes through his work ethic.”

Will the Celtics actually miss Danilo Gallinari if Hauser shoots like this and continues to hold his own defensively? More minutes for Hauser might be a positive. He notched 22 points, four rebounds, and two assists.

3. Hauser’s teammates seem to enjoy his success immensely (maybe in part because a great shooter makes life much easier). In a clip posted to social media, Tatum could be seen confirming to someone off screen that Hauser can shoot.

“I saw the clip,” Hauser said on Wednesday. “He claimed he’s a better shooter than me, but I don’t think he thinks that’s true. So we’ll see.”

Tatum’s thoughts on whether Hauser is a better shooter than him?

“Hell no,” Tatum said. “I tell him all the time if I was that wide open, if people left me that wide open and all I had to do was catch and shoot, I would make a lot more shots as well. I tell Sam he should send me a thank-you card.”

Tatum then got serious.

“Sam is obviously a great shooter,” he said. “His game has come a long way, and I’m happy for him. I’m happy he’s getting an opportunity, he’s obviously making the most out of it. And we’re going to need him. We’re going to need him to play well for the team this year.”

3. Grant Williams twisted his ankle in the fourth quarter and limped off the court, but he appeared fine celebrating the successes of the third unit. Mazzulla told reporters after the game that there didn’t seem to be an issue.

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4. Jaylen Brown dropped 23 points, three triples and one loud curse word in his halftime interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin. Wednesday was a midseason performance by the Celtics’ star, who looked excellent in both of the Celtics’ first two preseason contests.

5. Jayson Tatum continued to struggle from 3-point range (0-for-7), which obviously isn’t particularly concerning but does seem noteworthy considering his tendency to heat up as the season goes on. The Celtics will be fine if Tatum turns it on late in the year, but if he hopes to make an MVP case for himself, he will need to start knocking down triples when the regular season gets underway.

“This is like what I do,” Tatum said. “I start off slow, you know what I’m saying?But no, I ain’t worried. It’s preseason, don’t put too much stock into it. We’ve had many talks like this. I know what I can do. I know that I can shoot. I’m not worried. I still impact the game. One day I might make 10 3s and then we’ll forget about it.

“So no, I’m not worried. I’m just happy to be playing. It’s fun the way we’re moving the ball, everybody’s touching it, impacting the game. It’s just been fun these last two games.”

6. The Celtics held 19 points leads in the third and fourth quarters, but the Raptors’ third string beat the Celtics’ third string badly late in the game and brought them back for the overtime victory. If you — for some reason — were worried about lineups with Justin Jackson, Brodric Thomas and Mfiondu Kabengele, Wednesday’s game proved you right.



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