Keys to the Game: Celtics 94, Hornets 82

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

Brad Stevens chose to rest his three top stars – Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford – for the entirety of the second half of Monday’s exhibition opener against Charlotte.

One would have thought that the Hornets, who trailed 47-43 at halftime, would have pulled off a comeback win as a result. Instead, Boston’s young and inexperienced bench built upon that lead as the C’s snagged a 94-82 win.

Daniel Theis, Abdel Nader and Shane Larkin, all of whom did not play during the first 31-plus minutes of the contest, combined to tally 26 points, 11 rebounds and five assists over the final 17 minutes of the game. Boston actually trailed by three points, at 59-56, shortly after Larkin, the first of the trio to check into the game, replaced Brown with 4:34 left in the third quarter.

Larkin then scored four straight points to push Boston back in front by one point, and then Theis and Nader went to work.

They combined to score Boston’s final eight points of the quarter, and 13 of the team’s next 15 points overall, to provide the C’s with their largest lead of the game to that point, at 77-65. Boston never looked back from there.

Theis excited the crowd by scoring a team-high 12 points durinng less than 14 minutes of action. He made five of his eight shots and also tallied seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot. Nader, meanwhile, added in 10 points of his own, while Larkin chipped in four.

Key Player

People in Boston are really going to enjoy themselves some Aron Baynes. He is everything Celtics fans tend to fall in love with, and that process began Monday night.

Baynes started in the frontcourt for Boston and was a fantastic complementary player – one with a little bit of fire in his belly – alongside the team’s high-level stars in Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. He hit open shots – three in the paint and two from the midrange along the baseline – en route to 10 points. He also hauled in five boards and was an outstanding interior defender with his with his 6-foot-10, 260-pound frame. Baynes also totaled three assists and a blocked shot.

If Baynes can do what he did Monday night, which was to hit open shots and to rebound and defend at a high level, opponents are going to hate facing him.

Celtics fans? They’ll be at the other end of the spectrum. They’re gonna love this guy,

Box Score Nuggets

  • Three Celtics scored in double-figures, led by 12 points from Daniel Theis.
  • Jeremy Lamb led all scorers with 17 points.
  • Both teams shot less than 42.0 percent from the field.
  • Al Horford and Jayson Tatum each blocked two shots to lead the C's.
  • In their debuts with Boston, Kyrie Irving tallied nine points, four rebounds and three assists, while Gordon Hayward totaled five points and five rebounds.
  • Dwight Howard grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds during just 22-plus minutes of action.
  • Boston's bench outscored Charlotte's bench 57-42.
  • The two teams combined to score only four fast break points. All four were scored by Boston.
  • Nine Celtics grabbed at least four rebounds as Boston outrebounded Charlotte 52-45.

Quote of the Night

Brad Stevens on if there's a such thing as too much passing during the preseason.