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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Celtics Opening Night

The Boston Celtics began their season against their Atlantic-division rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers, in front of a roaring TD Garden crowd. Coming off of a somewhat unexpected yet successful season, which saw an under-manned Celtics team take the LeBron James-led Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the return of stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, expectations are high for the team, and they did not disappoint Tuesday night.
The game started rather slow for both sides, then Jayson Tatum gave the Celtics a much-needed boost. The 20-year-old began his sophomore season with a bang, dropping 23 points to go along with nine rebounds. The work Tatum put in over the summer showed as he displayed great balance on his shots, improved ball handling skills, while also providing stouter defense than last year. After ending the first quarter tied at 21, Hayward put the Celtics in front for good on their first possession of the second quarter. These were his first points in his first game back from that gruesome ankle injury suffered in the first quarter of last season’s opening night. Hayward made strides in his journey back to playing at 100 percent. He scored 10 points, had five rebounds, and four steals, which matched his career high. The crowd made sure he knew they were supporting him during his journey with a large ovation upon his pregame introduction.
The 2017–2018 all-star Al Horford, entering his twelfth season, made his presence known early. The Celtics’s defensive anchor made an impact in the paint with five of the Celtics’s six blocks on the night. The other block came from possible sixth man of the year candidate Terry Rozier, off of 76ers center Joel Embiid. The self-proclaimed B.W.A. (Bench with attitude) showed out as well. Rozier had 11 points and eight rebounds, to go with a double-double provided by Marcus Morris Sr. (16 points and 10 rebounds). Other B.W.A. members Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes provided stout defense all night while also combining to go 4–8 from 3-point range, impressive by their standards.
For the 76ers, the reigning rookie of the year, Ben Simmons was two assists shy of a triple double (19 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists), which he may have achieved if he was not in foul trouble like teammate Dario Saric. 76ers center Joel Embiid scored 23 points and added 10 rebounds but he had a bit of a rough night. Getting his shot blocked by Rozier, who is about 10 inches shorter than the seven-footer, Embiid was getting taunted by Tatum after Tatum hit a game-sealing shot. He was also getting bodied the entire game by Jaylen Brown.
The Celtics showed signs of being the dangerous team many people project them to be, scoring 105 points despite a sub-par offensive performance from Irving. This team is loaded with offensive weapons, and is also unselfish on the offensive side, as everyone is willing and capable of passing to make sure to get the best shot, rather than to pad their stat line. This team may be even scarier defensively, with a multitude of long and athletic wings and guards. The Celtics also have some formidable big men who play down low, which showed at times during the win. They were aided by a poor shooting performance by the 76ers in general, but as this team builds chemistry and trust throughout the season they will certainly build on the great defensive play that was shown. With one game down and 81 to go, the Celtics are poised to be atop the Eastern Conference and vie for their first finals birth since 2010.