Observations and analysis after the Celtics’ first scrimmage of the NBA restart, a 98-84 loss to the Thunder in a 40-minute game.
Enes Kanter: The big man was a shell of himself when we last saw him in March after dealing with a hip injury for weeks. It was a different story in Orlando during the C’s scrimmage opener. After a rough offensive start, he found some rhythm in the second half, working over an undersized Thunder bench on the boards. Kanter piled up 11 points and 10 rebounds in just 12 minutes, providing the kind of productivity in limited minutes the C’s got in the first half of the season. He didn’t match up against Steven Adams (the Thunder’s best center) much, but beating up bench units is where Kanter’s going to get his points.
Daniel Theis: With most of the starting lineup ice-cold around him, Theis was efficient in his limited minutes, scoring nine points and dishing out a team-high three assists in 15 minutes. He couldn’t handle Adams' strength down low on the glass at times, but he did showcase a nice take to the rim from the perimeter. If he can start making 3s regularly again, that will be a useful weapon for him to have in his arsenal as bigs close out on him.
Containing the pick-and-roll on defense: The Thunder are a bad matchup for any team out of the gate since they have one of the league’s best floor generals in Chris Paul. The Celtics weren’t able to keep Paul and Adams from getting to their spots on the floor (no easy task) and that led to lots of easy buckets early on around the rim. The Celtics will need to step up their ball pressure and resistance at the point of attack in order to prevent this moving forward, since they don’t have much size among the starters to cover up mistakes. This shouldn’t come as a surprise after four months of rest.
Jayson Tatum on offense: There was a lot of rust among the starters out of the gate (Hayward and Smart were also guilty) but Tatum had the slowest start of anyone. He went just 1-of-6 from the field with a couple turnovers mixed in as he struggled against a versatile mix of Thunder defenders at times including Lu Dort and Paul. It’s a scrimmage, so it really means nothing — but it was not a great mix of shot selection for the All-Star, as he scored just three points in 18 minutes.
Kemba Walker did not play due to planned rest for his knee. Romeo Langford was a late scratch due to a stomach issue. The starters did not play the second half due to planned rest.