I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t think I would enjoy seeing Kris Humphries in green. It is still taking some getting used to, but after the preseason and opening night, Hump is showing what a great rebounder and hustle player he can be.
Humphries was the key component to the Celtics’ second half comeback in yesterday’s game. When rookie Vitor Faverani picked up a quick 4th foul, Coach Stevens turned to Humphries to play at center. Contributing 8 points and a team-high 9 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action, Humphries used his big body to box out and also apply some protection around the rim, picking up 2 blocks as well.
Working alongside Brandon Bass, who also had a good game offensively, the two bigs provided the spark of offense (along with an aggressive Jeff Green) and defense to claw the team back from a 16 point deficit in the third quarter.
Starting in his first NBA game, Vitor Faverani was excellent at getting a good position under the basket, and although he ended with 3 rebounds, he also had 3 blocks. Unfortunately he was a bit too aggressive at times, finishing with 5 fouls in 27 minutes of action.
In contrast, Kelly Olynyk in his first professional basketball game, found himself out of position for rebounds all night. Brad Stevens had this to say on Olynyk’s 0 rebound debut;
“I thought he looked like he was a first-time player on a road game in the NBA. But he’s had great moments so far. I said beforehand he’s going to be one of our players that we’ll go to all year. He’s just going to get better and better.”
I’m all for developing a player who has shown a lot of potential across summer league and the preseason. However, it surprised me last night when Humphries was taken out of the game with 31 seconds remaining, with the scores at 85-90. He had provided energy for the team, but was substituted for Olynyk and his 3-point shot. This was a good strategy from the coach IF the Celtics had managed to rebound Kyle Lowry’s missed free throw. A rebound would have given the Celtics a chance to make it a one-possession game. A failure to box out and grab the loose ball meant the Raptors had another 2 free throws, which Lowry was able to knock down.
Yes, this is a season of development and giving the youngsters minutes. But the lack of rebounding down the stretch really hurt the team’s chances after scrapping their way back into the contest, allowing 19 offensive boards for the night. Hopefully young Olynyk will learn from his first outing. The good news is, a rebounding machine in Jared Sullinger will be ripe and ready to go against Milwaukee at the TD Garden, after serving his one game suspension.