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It’s only the preseason but Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is taking it seriously.
“No shot do we dominate on talent alone,” Stevens told reporters following the Celtics’ 102-95 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. “We’re not as good as advertised right now. So at least we know that one week in.”
The Celtics played with point guard Kyrie Irving, who sat out to rest. And swingman Gordon Hayward is still very clearly trying to find his stride after last season’s gruesome leg injury.
But the Celtics were obviously outclassed in the first half against a Cavs’ starting unit that was playing its first tune-up in its second post-LeBron James era.
“We’ve done a lot of work up to this point,” Stevens said. “It hasn’t translated so it needs to be taught better.”
The Cavs starters dominated to the tune of a 59-40 halftime lead behind the play of Kevin Love (17 points) and Cedi Osman (11 points, seven rebounds).
Meanwhile, the Celtics looked sloppy and lethargic, with Jaylen Brown the only starter to reach double figures in scoring. And even Brown barely did that, tallying 10 points.
“We haven’t played with that fight and I think that’s what Brad sees,” Brown told reporters. “We’ll get there, but it’s taking time. It’s taking longer than we expected to figure things out.”
After stretching James and the Cavs to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals last season, much is expected of the Celtics. Just like most contenders, it may be hard for them to get motivated for games that don’t count.
Still, their coach has made it clear he’s expecting more, even now.