After First NBA Bubble Scrimmage, Celtics Aim to Get Louder

There were a handful of lessons to be taken away from Boston’s first scrimmage inside Florida’s NBA bubble Friday night, but one stood above all others to coach Brad Stevens: his team needs to get louder.

Stevens heard constant communication throughout the exhibition matchup against Oklahoma City, but the problem was that it was mostly coming from the opposition, and more specifically from veteran point guard Chris Paul. In this case, the team that talked the talk also walked the walk, as Paul used his vocal cords to guide the Thunder to a 98-84 win.

“Chris Paul dominated the game with his voice, and that’s going to be critical as you move forward – to be connected and communicating,” Stevens said following the game. “And that was a great lesson for us.”

The concept of playing inside of an empty arena is uncharted territory for these athletes. They’re used to feeding off of the energetic forces produced by tens of thousands of fans every night. But now, they will be in total control of creating their own energy, meaning the quieter teams like the Celtics must start to raise their voices a little louder.

“We’re a fairly quiet group, generally,” Stevens said. “And I think that’s going to have to change collectively just because of this environment. Like it’s so unique that the collective voice of a group is going to be important, and so I think that everybody is going to have to do their best to communicate and to help each other through.”

In many ways, it was a blessing for the Celtics to have started off their exhibition schedule against one of the most vocal leaders in the league. Right off the bat, it showed them exactly how they must interact with one another in order to maximize their potential while playing inside of an empty venue.

“The best thing that we take away from this was we all heard Chris Paul dominate the game with his voice. And that’s it,” Stevens said.

Aside from not being able to out-shout Paul, there were a number of positives that the Celtics took away from their first scrimmage. Their offense had some strong moments during the first half, as they moved the ball well and found a lot of open looks.

The reason they were held to 84 points was a combination of great defense from Oklahoma City, along with the fact that the game was shortened to 10-minute quarters. It’s also worth noting that Boston did not play any of its starters during the second half.

The main focal points of Friday’s scrimmage were for the Celtics to shake off some of the cobwebs that may have accumulated over the last four months, to attempt to rediscover some of their pre-hiatus flow, and to also learn a few lessons about their new playing environment. The biggest lesson they learned was that they need to adjust their volume in an attempt to be the loudest team on the court.

“The fastest team that makes that adjustment is going to be the better team,” said Jaylen Brown, who tallied nine points in 17 minutes of action. “So while we’re here, we’ve got to be vocal, we’ve got to reach out, we’ve got to adjust as fast as we can. Chris Paul did a great job of organizing his team, and we’ve got to do a better job of organizing ours. It’s early, we’re young, we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on, but we’re going to get there.”

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