C's pinpoint strengths, weaknesses in loss

C's pinpoint strengths, weaknesses in loss
October 7, 2013, 11:15 pm
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BOSTON -- New players, new coach, new season. The Boston Celtics didn't expect their first preseason game to tell them everything they needed to know about their team. Instead, they are taking their loss to the Toronto Raptors as a sign of where they are after a week of training camp and where they need to get to before the start of the regular season.

"I thought we did a lot of good things," said Brad Stevens following the 97-89 defeat. "There's obviously a lot of areas to improve, starting with shoring us up defensively."

Defense. The foundation of the Celtics system for so many years. The Cs were out rebounded, 46-26, including a staggering 35-18 deficit on the defensive boards.

Jared Sullinger, who led the Celtics with six rebounds, sees an early solution for the differential.

"We've got to be a group," he said. "We've got to be a rebounding group. Honestly, they weren't missing. If you look at it, they had a lot of turnovers as well so that kind of cut down possessions. We can get better. It's always been a fault of ours and we're just going to try to get better every day."

The Raptors made just four more field goals than the Celtics but outshot them, 52 percent to 40 percent. The Celtics were also outscored 52 points to 34 in the paint, leaving the front court a priority for Stevens to address.

"Obviously 52 percent's not going to get it done, especially most of them felt like they were in the paint or at the rim," said Stevens. "So we've got to get a lot better at that. We've got to get better playing when we're undersized because we are undersized a little bit on the front line. There's ways to combat that, and we'll go to work on it."

One area in which the Celtics clicked was their ball movement. Players did not strive for hero shots in their first preseason game and instead looked for the best open option.

"As a team I felt like we moved the ball well," said Avery Bradley. "My job is to make everything easier on everybody at both ends of the floor. I'm going to try to do that and continue to improve, and I know our team is going to continue to improve. I feel like we're an unselfish team and we move the ball well. If we continue to do that, it's going to be hard for teams to guard."

The Celtics will review game film and begin to fix their kinks before their next preseason game on Wednesday against the New York Knicks.

"If I start tomorrow working on one thing," said Stevens, "It will be some of our stuff defensively."