Stars, studs, and duds: Improving on perfection

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics ran the tables in the preseason which they capped off with a 108-100 win over the Charlotte Hornets to finish with a 4-0 preseason record. 

While they clearly played well enough to win every time they stepped on the floor, they are by no means blinded by that success.

"It's good," Marcus Smart told reporters afterwards. "We gotta keep going. It's good to take away. We still have a lot to learn, a lot to go through."

While that is true, there's no escaping the fact that the Celtics have shown a level of cohesiveness at both ends of the floor, that has them maybe ahead of where most - including players - expected them to be at this point in the season.  

"I think so," Smart said. "We have a lot of guys, a lot of new guys. Everybody playing off one another getting great touches and great looks." 

STARS

Kyrie Irving: It's clear that Irving is very much rounding into regular season form, delivering another strong performance in helping lead Boston to victory. He finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists without playing a single minute in the fourth quarter, in addition to grabbing five rebounds. 

Gordon Hayward: He's gradually finding his way as a scorer for Boston, in addition to doing all the little things necessary to win. He had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. 

Malik Monk: The rookie is coming off the bench now, but don't be surprised if he's in the starting lineup at some point this season – sooner rather than later, most likely. He led all scorers with 21 points with six rebounds while shooting 4-for-10 from 3-point range. 

STUDS

Al Horford: Quiet. Efficient. Successful. That has been at the core of Horford's basketball career, and Monday's preseason game was no exception. He finished with a near double-double with 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists. 

Jaylen Brown: He had 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting, but it was his versatility as a defender that really stuck out as he held his own defensively against a quicker Kemba Walker, and yet still had enough strength to deal with Marvin Williams

Dwight Howard: He didn't play a ton of minutes, but Howard looked pretty good when he was on the floor. He had 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting with six rebounds in just under 23 minutes. 

DUDS

Marvin Williams: Nicolas Batum's elbow injury will keep him sidelined for at least six weeks, which means Hornets fans will see more of Williams. That's not a good thing he plays like he did on Wednesday, scoring two points while missing seven of his eight shot attempts. 

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