Brown leads Celtics to dominant win vs. Hornets to begin preseason

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The Boston Celtics already appear to be in midseason form.

Whether it was energetic defense, hot 3-point shooting, crisp ball movement or diving on the floor for loose balls, the Celtics came ready to play in their preseason opener against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon.

The Celtics dominated in a 134-93 victory at TD Garden. Boston hit 22 3-point shots and tallied 43 assists, while outrebounding Charlotte 56-43. 

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Here are three takeaways from the preseason opener.

1) Jaylen Brown is ready to go

Jaylen Brown came out with plenty of energy and an aggressive mindset to begin the game.

He played 11 minutes in the first quarter and led all players with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and a 4-of-5 mark from the free throw line. The star guard also threw down two dunks in the opening 12 minutes -- one to get the C's on the board and another on an alley-oop from Jayson Tatum.

Brown finished with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting, along with five rebounds and one assist in 24 minutes of action.

That one assist was a highlight-reel dish to Al Horford:

Sure, it's only the first preseason game, but Brown looks poised for an All-Star caliber season. All of those rigorous offseason workouts, including underwater exercises, seem to have really paid off. He's locked in right now.

2) Malcolm Brogdon should fit in just fine

Malcolm Brogdon was the first guard off the bench in his Boston debut and immediately excelled in the role of playmaker. He picked up six assists in 15 first-half minutes. He was consistently pushing the pace and setting guys up in the right spots. Brogdon finished with a game-high nine assists -- four less than the Hornets had as a team.

Early in the second quarter, Brogdon raced up court and drew three defenders in the paint before kicking the ball out to a wide open Grant Williams for a 3-pointer.

Brogdon's excellent passing ability will be a huge help to a Celtics team that played without a true point guard for most of last season. Marcus Smart performed well at point guard in 2021-22, but he's more of a combo guard. 

Brogdon also can score -- and he chipped in 11 points over 24 minutes Sunday -- but having him as a primary ball handler is really valuable for the Celtics given his poise and composure. The real question mark with Brogdon is whether he can stay healthy. Durability has been an issue for Brogdon his entire career.

3) Sam Hauser shows how he can be effective

Hauser is on the roster to give the Celtics much-needed scoring and 3-point shooting off the bench, and he provided both of those skills Sunday.

The 24-year-old forward scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a 4-of-5 mark from beyond the arc in 19 minutes. 

Hauser also showed off his playmaking ability by attacking a closeout, driving to the basket and tossing an alley-oop to Mfiondu Kabengele in the fourth quarter. He even held up quite well defensively, including a nice sequence defending a Terry Rozier drive to the basket off a switch.

Hauser's minutes could go up with Danilo Gallinari out for the season because of a torn ACL. If Hauser can stretch the floor and give the Celtics average to above-average defense on the perimeter, he should play a valuable reserve role for interim head coach Joe Mazzulla.

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