Brown, C’s end preseason in dominant fashion

Celtics-Hornets takeaways: Brown, C’s end preseason in dominant fashion originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics put a bow on their preseason with a blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night.

It didn’t take long for the exhibition to get out of hand. The Celtics had more assists (13) in the first quarter than the Hornets had field goals (10). Boston’s defense dominated throughout, limiting Charlotte to 42 percent shooting from the field and just 14.3 percent from 3-point range in a 127-99 victory at Spectrum Center.

Every active Celtics player scored and all five C’s starters scored in double figures. Jaylen Brown racked up a game-high 20 points and was followed by Derrick White (15 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (14 points).

The Celtics wrapped up their preseason with a 4-1 record. They’ll open their 2023-24 regular season next Wednesday against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Here are our takeaways from Thursday’s preseason finale.

Jaylen Brown in midseason form

Brown has slid under the radar amid the Porzingis and Holiday hype, but he capped off a rock-solid preseason with a brilliant performance on Thursday.

The veteran wing set the tone for the lopsided win with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting (3-4 3-PT) in the first quarter.

He kept it rolling in a second quarter that included this thunderous dunk:

Since Brown couldn’t miss, it was only fitting that he drilled a full-court shot to end the first half. It didn’t count as it came after the buzzer, but it still perfectly summed up the two-time All-Star’s night.

Brown ended with 20 points (8-12 FG, 4-5 3-PT), four rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 23 minutes. He’s ready for Opening Night.

Neemias Queta makes final case for a role

Queta, signed to a two-way deal, is a candidate to provide much-needed frontcourt depth behind the oft-injured Porzingis and 37-year-old Al Horford. His preseason has been a solid audition for a consistent role off the bench.

The 7-footer starred for the second unit in Charlotte, hitting all six of his shots for 12 points in 13 minutes. He added seven rebounds (five offensive) and a steal for good measure.

Fouls have been an issue for Queta, and he had two more on Thursday night, but the former Sacramento Kings center has otherwise impressed. Players signed to two-way contracts can’t be on the team’s active roster for more than 50 games during the regular season, but Queta should have his moments for the C’s during the 2023-24 campaign.

Best defensive performance of the preseason

The Celtics scored at will through the first four games of their preseason, but so did their opponents. They allowed at least 57 points during the first halves of each of those games.

Thursday was a different story. Boston’s defense wasn’t just great against Charlotte, it was historic. It set a franchise record with 22 steals.

It was a total team effort defensively with 13 different players accounting for those steals. Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday, and Dalano Banton led the way with three apiece. Derrick White had two steals and three blocks.

This game was a perfect example of what this Celtics team is capable of when it clicks on both ends of the floor. It was utter dominance, and that’s what’s expected out of this loaded roster as it enters the new season as the 2024 NBA championship favorite.

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