Celtics fans have been waiting for this game since Kyrie Irving took a dump on their Finals hopes last postseason. A fresh start, less mouths to feed, and we get a better look at the young core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Last night was a blur.
Foul after foul, missed shot after missed shot. What’s worse: losing 107-93, being out rebounded 41-62 or missing 14 free throws? Because the Celtics did both and shot themselves in the foot.
But you know what? This is the first game of the season.
81 games left to fix whatever is going on… and for Boston, it’s not as bad as you think.
The Celtics may have missed pretty much everything, but how they got to those shots has me feeling optimistic.
They tired those 76er Goliaths with the pick & roll for much of the first half and could match their physicality.
They’re not going to shoot 37% every game, plus they’re most definitely not going to be 59% from the line either. They’re just one big man stepping-up inside from being a decent looking contender in the East.
Look, you’ve got rid of Kyrie who was an incompetent leader, Marcus Morris who’s never seen a bad shot in his life, and a lifeless backup PG in Terry Rozier. Big parts of your team last season, they still weren’t as important as the loss of Al Horford.
Not only did he protect the paint and have a nice right-handed hook shot, but he also controlled your offense.
Every Celtics play either started with a Horford setting a screen or taking the ball to the top of the 3-point line. Now? The Celtics don’t have that option… But that’s where Hayward or Kemba can fill in.
Hayward looked like the player he was before his injury.
He attacked the basket, had a nice jump shot going, and used the pick & roll effectively. He went 8 for 15 from the field and was 9 of 11 from the line, all for 25 points. At times, he was the only offense on the floor since nobody decided to move. He probably could have had more points had Daniel Theis knew how to roll instead of following Hayward off the screen.
Kemba didn’t do to hot on offense, but that’s not something to worry about.
He went 4 for 18, but don’t let that deceive you. His step back was as lethal as ever, his use of screens worked the 76ers perimeter defenders, and his all-around shot selection was great. It was just one of those games where the ball wasn’t going in. I’m not worried about him in the least bit. He’s still getting acclimated into Stevens’ team-oriented offense. He’ll make shots, don’t worry Boston fans.
Jaylen Brown and his $115M contract had 8 points and 7 rebounds in only 21 minutes of work. To be fair, he was in foul trouble for much of the game, but that comes with Brown not adapting to the game the officials were calling all night. I’m sure he won’t do this every game and it’s just an anomaly.
Enes Kanter somehow became my favorite Celtics player.
From being charitable to clowning Kyrie, it’s easy to see why. He got the call to start at center because Embiid is a fucking whale and would absolutely eat Robert Williams (*unbuttons shirt slowly and cries out Timelord*). Being the only good rebounder on the team besides Brown, Kanter did a good job keeping possessions alive with deflections and being in the right position at the right time. Yes, his footwork is slow, but he did a solid job on Embiid, holding him to only 15 points (but killed inside with 13 boards).
Marcus Smart was Smarf. That’s it (Weird Celtics Twitter joke). But in all seriousness, he was the leader of a decent looking defense that somehow hid two people not necessarily known for defending: Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter.
One last tidbit, why did Ojeleye only play 10 minutes? He’s a good defender who’s proven he can stay with the best of them. So why not put him out on Simmons? But I guess it’s just an extension of the preseason for head coach Brad Stevens these first couple games. In Brad we trust!
All I’m saying is this: IT’S ONLY THE FIRST GAME.
This should be a fun group to watch. Don’t let NBA Twitter ruin it for you.
Watch the game and make your observations from there, not some part-time jabroni who thinks the sky is falling after one damn game.
They’re only 0-1.
You know who else is 0-1? Half the league.
You know what else? They’re not going to stay like that forever.
Buckle up because the Celtics are gonna be fun again.
Don’t be negative over one anomaly of a game. Besides, how do you play that ugly against a talented 76ers team and still manage to be close for most of it?