In what was surely the most impressive preseason game of the year to date, the Nets, without any of their starters, came back in the last four minutes of the game to beat the Celtics who played their starters for the majority of the game. With the victory, the Nets improve to 3-0 in the preseason, while the Celtics fall to 1-4.
For most of the night, this game was really about two players: Andray Blatche for the Nets and Paul Pierce for the Celtics. Blatche was really the only active offensive player for much of the night for Brooklyn, while Paul Pierce was on fire from long range, connecting on 6 of his 8 attempts. The players finished with 23 points and 29 points respectively. Jeff Green was also a big contributor for Boston, hitting 7/8 from the foul line and scoring 14 points.
Until the last four minutes of this game, the play reminded me a lot of what I have come used to watching the Nets over the past few seasons. Against a far superior Boston team, the Nets scrapped together to avoid a blowout, but everyone in the arena knew that they would not win the game. Then, with a little under 4 minutes remaining and the Celtics ahead by about 10, Boston pulled their starters and the Nets B and C teams feasted on the Celtics bench. There were 3-pointers from Mirza Teletovic and Josh Childress and Tornike Shengelia capped the comeback with a voracious and-1 dunk. With the game tied and 5 seconds remaining, Stephen Dennis went to the line with a chance to seal the victory for Brooklyn, but missed both shots. Thanks to Toko Shengelia’s boxout, Mirza Teletovic was able to get the rebound and proceded to get fouled, hitting 1/2 from the line. It was enough to give the Nets a hard-fought W.
Even though this is a preseason game and who knows how hard the Celtics were really trying, one still has to be impressed with how the Nets bench played tonight. This was Boston’s first home game this season and the sold out crowd was pretty hostile towards the Nets. Despite this, the team fought throughout the game and kept it close, and was able to steal a victory in the final seconds.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Reggie Evans: B+
Reggie did his job tonight. He rebounded the ball 10 times, which is what he is paid to do. He even brought his offensive game tonight, scoring 8 points. He was also 2/3 from the foul line! (even though his miss was an air ball). Evans deserves to get some minutes for this team, although he probably won’t get many once the regular season begins.
Josh Childress: C+
Josh Childress has not impressed me so far in this preseason. Although he did hit a big 3 towards the end of this game, with his skill level he should have been one of the main scoring options for the Nets tonight and he only attempted 4 field goals. He was not very involved in the offense and I honestly don’t know if he deserves a roster spot on this team.
Andray Blatche: A+
Andray Blatche showed that he is capable of being a starting NBA center tonight. He went up against Kevin Garnett and ultimately won that battle. He was active on both the offensive and defensive boards and got to the foul line at will. When the Nets stalled on offense, they turned to what I will call from now on Iso-Dray plays, which worked for the most part, although there were a few turnovers. When the starters are in the game, the Nets will not need Blatche nearly as much on offense but I feel very comfortable with the Nets center situation now with Blatche backing up Lopez.
Mirza Teletovic: B+
I predicted that Teletovic would finally come alive in this game, and he did, scoring 18 points off the bench. He only shot 6-17 overall, but was 4-10 from 3. He missed a few open looks, but 40% is not bad at all. Mirza looked a little lost on defense at times, but this is to be expected. He is not a great defensive player. The good news that comes from tonight is that Mirza has shown that he is never afraid to shoot, even though he had struggled in the first two preseason games.
Tornike Shengelia: B
Toko’s dunk to tie the game up with under a minute remaining was the first time I have been so excited that I got out of my seat while watching a Brooklyn Nets game. Aside from that, he played a pretty good game, shot over 50% from the field, and even had 2 steals and a block. He will probably be one of the last guys off the bench for the Nets this season, but he might have a future in the NBA.
Tyshawn Taylor: B
This was Taylor’s first ever NBA game after he missed the first two games due to injury. Before the game, Avery Johnson said that he expected to play Taylor around 12 minutes tonight, but he played well enough to earn 17 minutes. As soon as Tyshawn came into the game, he provided a spark off the bench getting a quick assist and a nice floating layup over Kevin Garnett. He finished the game leading the Nets in assists with 5 despite playing limited minutes.
This was the second game of a 4-game-in-5-night stretch for the Nets. They will have tomorrow night off, and then return to Brooklyn for a rematch with the Celtics on Thursday night. Expect the starters all to play in that game and the Nets to hopefully pick up another preseason win.