BOSTON – The past week for the Boston Celtics can best be described as a cram study session. Ten new players have been held responsible for learning the team’s system, as well as each other’s playing style, as quickly and efficiently as possible over the last six days in preparation for an extra-early start to the NBA preseason.
The Celtics will already be forced to put their studies to the test tonight when they host the Charlotte Hornets at 7:30 p.m. in their first preseason game of the 2017-18 campaign.
Knowing that his squad has spent only half a dozen days getting to know each other on the court, coach Brad Stevens knows that this is going to be one heck of a first test; especially considering the fact that Charlotte is returning nine players from last season’s team.
“I think we’re going to get spun around in circles,” Stevens admitted Sunday evening ahead of the Celtics’ Fan Fest event at TD Garden. “I’m looking forward to seeing what goes well and I’m looking forward to teaching off what doesn’t.
“It’s a great team to have to play against because they have almost everybody back,” continued the coach. “They added obviously Dwight Howard, but everybody back has corporate knowledge of what they’re trying to do. They’re really well coached and so they’ll expose us in the ways that [will show us] things we need to work on to get better, and we’ll know what we’ll have to move forward and learn from.”
It will be a solid test for all Celtics, including four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving. Boston’s new starting point guard will be matched up against another All-Star in Kemba Walker, who is coming off of a career season during which he averaged 23.2 points, 5.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.
“I just cant wait to get back out there and re-acclimated myself to basketball again,” said Irving, who averaged a career-high 25.2 PPG last season. “I’m feeling good with the understanding that we still have a long way to go. But we had a good start of the week to camp, and I’m looking forward to many more days where we can continue to get better.”
Irving’s All-Star teammate Gordon Hayward, who signed with the C’s over the summer, says he can’t believe the first preseason game is already here. However, he too can’t wait to get out on the court and gauge the team’s progress after a week’s worth of prep.
“[Tonight] will be great so we can see where we’re at,” said Hayward, who will be matched up against Charlotte’s jack-of-all-trades, Nic Batum. “We’re going against a different team, so we’ll be able to have film on it. We’ll be able to watch and see where we need to get better, and that’s what the preseason is for.”
It will also be a great chance for Celtics fans to witness their new-look team take the court for the first time, so make sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston at 7:30 p.m. for tip-off.