The Celtics are in search of a competent 3rd middle in the back of Al Horford and Luke Kornet, who didn’t commute on account of a sprained ankle. Griffin is the most likely selection, right away offering balance within the paint with sturdy resolution making.
“Wind-wise I was fine, but I felt like I was pretty sped up,” he stated. “I missed easy [shots], a bad turnover here and there. I haven’t really played 5-on-5, just getting that rhythm. Starting a little late and I got some work to do, but I’ll be fine.”
Celtics trainer Joe Mazzulla gave one of the crucial 2d unit avid gamers and camp invitees in depth mins, and the membership outscored the Hornets, 71-49, in the second one and 3rd classes after falling in the back of, 35-22, after one quarter. He sought after to get a protracted have a look at Griffin, who joined the staff Monday and took part in two practices. He used to be inspired.
“I think he’ll be good for our offense, just his ability to screen and move the ball,” Mazzulla stated. “I thought he helped us on the glass. We’re able to put him in some good positions defensively, which will help our lineup.”
Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Malcolm Brogdon got the night off, giving journeyman Noah Vonleh a real chance to make an impression in the starting frontcourt. After a rough first half where he committed three illegal screens and an additional turnover, he responded in the second half, finishing with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 2 assists.
“I think he’s great; he understands the game, screens well, fits into our defensive identity,” Mazzulla said. “Very happy with the way he played. He did some good things for us.”
Derrick White looked ready for the regular season with 18 points and six assists in 24 minutes, even providing strong defense when the small lineup mandated he play power forward. With more of an opportunity to handle the ball, White scored on dribble penetration, reached the free throw line five times, and added two 3-pointers.
White looked timid and uncomfortable for stretches last season after being a midseason acquisition from the San Antonio Spurs, but he appeared to be the team’s biggest beneficiary from a full training camp.
▪ Kemba Walker, still officially a member of the Detroit Pistons, attended the game between two of his former teams and received a standing ovation. He said he’s still looking to play in the NBA and his troublesome knee is healthy. Walker said that he still questions playing on the bad knee during the Celtics’ bubble playoff run.
“Some regrets there but I love to play basketball; I’m a competitor,” he said. “We were deep in the playoffs. It was a once-in-a-lifetime type opportunity. It happens. I’m pretty sure if I was in the same situation, I probably would still play. No regrets.”
▪ It was evident when Tatum, Smart, and Horford were working out far after the second shootaround bus departed for the team hotel they wouldn’t be in the lineup Friday. That was the case. Brown also worked out with that group but decided to play to “keep his rhythm,” according to Mazzulla. Brown finished with a team-leading 19 points.
▪ The Celtics didn’t see Gordon Hayward in their two preseason matchups with the Hornets. The former Celtic bumped knees in practice and tried continuing workouts before the team shut him down. Hayward signed with the Hornets in hopes of being that All-Star caliber player his body would not allow in Boston. Instead, he’s continued to be beset with injuries, playing in just 93 out of a possible 154 games in two seasons and missing both of the Hornets’ play-in games.
▪ The Celtics have only waived Denzel Valentine during training camp, meaning they’ll need to make three more roster reductions before the regular season. The likely candidates are Luka Samanic, Brodric Thomas and Jake Layman, all of whom could play in the G League this season for Maine. J.D. Davison and Mfiondu Kabengele are signed to two-way contracts.
Justin Jackson, who went 0-for-8 in the preseason loss to Toronto, and Vonleh are the likely candidates to earn spots out of camp. The Celtics, however, could decide to leave a roster spot open for a potential trade or free agent signee.
Jackson struggled early before draining three consecutive 3-pointers late in the third period to register his best game in the preseason. He finished with 16 points.
Injured players Danilo Gallinari and Robert Williams occupy roster spots, increasing the likelihood the Celtics will open the season with 15 players under contract.
Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.