Following Carmelo Anthony through the summer gives us a glimpse of someone trying to be optimistic although there aren’t a lot of reasons to be. The New York Knick looked bad adjusting to the triangle offense in a 106-86 loss to the Boston Celtics, as Jared Sullinger had an excellent game while Marcus Smart looked much improved compared to his preseason debut, almost like someone who can take over eventually for Rajon Rondo.
Anthony scored 10 points in 21 minutes on 3-of-9 from the field as the two teams clashed in Hartford, Connecticut for their preseason rivalry game, which didn’t have any unusual, un-basketball like incidents through it. The Knicks turned the ball over 28 times, mostly due to sloppy passing or holding on to the ball for too long in bad positions, giving Celtics players a chance to come up with blind steals. In short, Derek Fisher is going to have a lot of frustrating nights while his players try to catch on to the new offensive system.
For the Celtics, it was a big night for Sullinger, playing in the lineup next to Olynyk in the frontcourt. With Jeff Green not playing, the perimeter consisted of Smart, Evan Turner who continues to have a promising start on his new team and Avery Bradley as well, who’ll be another player trying to show he’s more than just a one-sided player, trying to generate a lot more offense than in the past.
Sullinger led the team with 23 points on 9-of-12 from the field. The third year player out of Ohio State wasn’t far from averaging in double-doubles last season and will look to improve his shooting percentage this season (only 42% from the field last year), not to mention being a lot more consistent while hoping he doesn’t have to play center too much next to Olynyk, another developing project under Stevens who is far from the symbol of consistency on offense.
Marcus Smart is another player who’ll be going through the motions. His offense looked shaky at best during the Celtics’ preseason debut against Philadelphia, but he looked a lot sharper with his outside shot, the main reason he stayed at Oklahoma State for a second season. He finished with 11 points, 6 assists and 2 steals while hitting 4-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, in a sign that there’s more to him than just raw talent and athleticism.
Evan Turner scored nine points and Marcus Thornton added 12 from the bench, and will probably become a useful addition from the bench in terms of being able to generate some quick scoring. The Celtics weren’t the most potent of offensive teams last season, especially when it came to players creating shots from themselves, in the lineup or on the bench.
The Knicks are back to starting Amare Stoudemire off the bench, with Dalembert and Bargnani in the lineup to clog the paint. Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with a team-high 18 points, most of them coming from the free throw line. The Knicks don’t look good right now but that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Looking at the roster and how much it hasn’t improved is a better indication of how there’s not that much room for improvement despite the always high expectations.