Blake Griffin had to shake off some rust in his debut with the Celtics Friday night, but he showed several ways that he can help the team, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. After some early turnovers and missed shots, Griffin sparked a comeback that erased a 15-point deficit in a win over the Hornets. He finished with seven points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes and displayed an unselfishness that could make him an important part of Boston’s offense.
Griffin, 33, saw his role with the Nets diminish as last season wore on, and he spent nearly the entire offseason as a free agent before signing with the Celtics on Monday. He appeared to take a subtle swipe at his former team after the game while talking about coming to Boston, Robb adds.
“I think the intensity and maturity level of this group is off the charts,” Griffin said. “Every day when we get to work it’s intense. It’s not that we’re going forever but these guys are locked in and no one has to tell us to be locked in. It’s refreshing.”
There’s more from Boston:
- Justin Jackson‘s bid to earn a roster spot got off to a rocky start, but a second-half scoring explosion Friday improved his chances, Robb adds in a separate story. Jackson poured in 16 points in 23 minutes and hit four of eight shots from three-point range. Robb expects the Celtics to start the season with a full 15-man roster because of injuries to Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari, and he sees Jake Layman and Brodric Thomas as Jackson’s main competition for the final spot.
- Sam Hauser has been a pleasant surprise since the start of training camp, Robb states in a mailbag column. The second-year forward has emerged as a reliable long-distance shooter who can contribute on defense as well. Robb believes Hauser might be able to provide what the Celtics were hoping for when they signed Gallinari.
- Mfiondu Kabengele has been getting a lot of personalized instruction from Jaylen Brown since joining the Celtics on a two-way contract, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Kabengele played briefly for the Clippers and Cavaliers after being selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, and he’s determined to learn as much as possible to help him stay in the league. “I’m not the same person I was in my rookie year, or even last year when I was in the G League,” he said. “A lot of times, I would come into games and practices and think, ‘All right, I have a skill set.’ It was a little bit of arrogance I had. It wasn’t laziness, but I had a good sense of what I needed, then every time I fail and go through these things, I’m like, ‘Why are things not working?’ Then I did some self-reflection.”