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The Mass Media

Celtics’ Tatum and Brown score 35 each in opener win

Jaylen+Brown+of+the+Boston+Celtics+plays+a+game+in+January+2022.
Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics plays a game in January 2022. Photo sourced from All-Pro Reels via Flickr.

The tumultuous Celtics’ off-season comes to a close as the NBA tips off the season at TD Garden. The Boston Celtics faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers last Tuesday night in a competitive game that ended with a 126117 Boston victory.

Before the game began, the Celtics put together a ceremony to honor basketball legend Bill Russell. The former Celtic and eleven-time champion passed away this Summer. Celtics star Jaylen Brown spoke about Russell, praising his efforts as a player, a man and as an activist. The ceremony was followed by a performance from singer Aloe Blacc and the reading of a poem by Laureate Porsha Olayiwola (1).

Shortly after the ceremony concluded, the debut of both interim head coach Joe Mazzulla and the brand new “City Edition” jerseys had begun. The first quarter began with two large runs by each team. It was easy to tell early on that the game would be physical, as there were several fouls called on both teams early on. The 76ers’ two all-star players, Joel Embiid and James Harden, were at the top of the league in free throw attempts last season, and that showed tonight. After one quarter, Philadelphia led 29–24. Most of their scoring came from James Harden and Tobias Harris, who had 16 and nine points, respectively (2).

After a rough first quarter, Jaylen Brown exploded for 14 second-quarter points, as his contribution helped tie the game up at the half at 63 apiece. Along with Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and newcomer Malcolm Brogdon were all playing excellent basketball on both ends of the floor, whereas James Harden was the main man carrying the load for Philadelphia (2).

The second half started with a scuff between Marcus Smart and Joel Embiid that ended in only Smart getting a technical foul (3). This, however, fired the Celtics up as they pulled away from the 76ers midway through the quarter and ended up dominating the rest of the game. Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown put on stellar performances scoring 35 points each on positive efficiency (2).

The Celtics managed to win the turnover battle 10 to 14, with Joel Embiid having six. While Harden had a great game, Embiid was contained for the most part, an impressive feat without All-Defensive Center Robert Williams III. Embiid’s counting stats may seem like he played well, but his sloppy turnovers, to go along with almost a third of his points coming from the foul line and a -13 +/- differential, show that he certainly could’ve played better (2).

The Celtics’ bench completely outplayed the 76ers’. Boston got 34 points out of their reserves compared to Philadelphia’s 11. Grant Williams was a key factor scoring 15 points without missing a single field goal, as well as Malcolm Brogdon who put up 16 points of his own in his first game with Boston (2).

The absence of Robert Williams III for several weeks is a painful hit to the Celtics and many figured that veteran Al Horford, young up-and-comer Grant Williams and recent addition Blake Griffin would be the ones taking his playing time. But to the surprise of many, former top ten draft pick Noah Vonleh played significant minutes throughout the entire game (4).

Vonleh had never lived up to the hype coming out of the University of Indiana and has been on eight teams in his nine years in the NBA. Although he didn’t have an eye-popping game, it’s very interesting to see if he’s going to be a consistent member of the rotation going forward.

The Celtics will be tested once again on Friday, Oct. 21 where they play against last season’s Eastern Conference one seed, the Miami Heat. If Boston continues to play like this throughout the season, then there will be no reason not to believe they could make the NBA finals once again.

Sources:

  1. https://www.nba.com/news/celtics-honor-bill-russell

  2. https://www.espn.com/nba/game/_/gameId/401468016

  3. https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/celtics-marcus-smart-on-scuffle-with-76ers-joel-embiid-i-could-have-cracked-his-head-open-but-i-didnt/

  4. https://www.masslive.com/celtics/2022/10/noah-vonleh-went-from-china-to-first-celtics-player-off-bench-against-76ers.html

About the Contributor
Liam Crampton, Sports Writer