Locked in from the jump 😤@jaytatum0 is tonight's @Gatorade Player of the Game pic.twitter.com/Xcxat9rLt4— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Celtics vs. 76ers score, takeaways: Boston takes down Philadelphia in NBA's regular season opener
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the way for Boston
The Boston Celtics made it all the way to the NBA Finals last June. However, they still entered the new season facing plenty of questions after suspending their coach for a year and replacing him with a guy with no previous experience at the NBA level over the offseason. Despite those distractions though, the Celtics looked a whole lot like a legitimate contender again in their first game of the season.
Against a re-tooled Philadelphia 76ers team that added several new pieces over the summer, the Celtics took over in the second half and pulled out a 126-117 victory. The game was tied at halftime, but Boston outscored Philadelphia 35-25 in the third quarter, and then never looked back. For Boston, it was the usual suspects who led the way. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both had 35 points in the contest, and Tatum also added 12 rebounds and four assists. That tandem seemingly took turns toying with Philadelphia's defenders.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown went OFF tonight in the Celtics' season opener.— NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2022
Tatum: 35 PTS, 12 REB, 4 AST
Brown: 35 PTS, 3 REB#KiaTipOff22 pic.twitter.com/QppiiA4FFX
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart also added 14 points and seven assists for the Celtics. As a team, Boston shot a sizzling 56 percent from the floor.
James Harden led the way for Philadelphia with 35 points, seven assists and eight rebounds, and his play was probably the most encouraging aspect of the evening for the Sixers. Joel Embiid, the MVP runner-up from last season, finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists and rising star Tyrese Maxey added 21 points of his own, including nine in the fourth quarter. The production of that trio wasn't enough to lift the Sixers to a season-opening win.
Only so much can be taken from the first game of the season, but the Celtics certainly looked extremely formidable again, especially considering the fact that were without their starting center Robert Williams. Once he returns, Boston could be very tough to topple. As for Philadelphia, the Sixers clearly have some things that they need to clean up, but they shouldn't be too discouraged after a single game, given all of the new pieces they're incorporating.
Here's a look at three key takeaways from Boston's season-opening win over Philadelphia.
1. An encouraging debut for Brogdon
After coming two wins shy of hanging a banner, Boston's biggest offseason acquisition was Malcolm Brogdon, who they traded for back in July. Brogdon, the 2017 Rookie of the Year, made his debut for the team on Tuesday night, and it went very well. Brogdon came off of the bench for Boston, but he played 24 minutes -- fourth most on the team. In that time, he scored 15 points while shooting seven of 11 from the floor. He also added four assists, two steals and two rebounds.
It was solid production, but the full value of what he brought to the team wasn't just reflected in his own numbers. He provided the team with an additional threat on the offensive end, and an additional player capable of creating his own offense. This made things easier for the other guys like Tatum and Brown. Brogdon isn't built to be the top option on a title team, but he would make a really nice third or fourth option on one. As the season goes on, you have to assume he'll grow even more comfortable playing with his new teammates, and that could make him even more effective. Again, it's only one game, but Brogdon's addition looks like a valuable one for Boston.
2. Boston dominated in transition
If there's one thing in particular that the Sixers can point to as the reason they came out on the wrong side of this one, their transition defense would be it. The Sixers allowed the Celtics to score 24 fast break points, while they scored a total of two -- yes, just two -- themselves. It's tough to win a game when the other team outscores you by 20-plus in a single category, and that's exactly what happened on Tuesday night. Moving forward, the Sixers have to make a [much] more concerted effort to get back on defense in transition, or else they're going to get run out of a lot of gyms. One thing that they can do to help themselves is to take better care of the basketball. The Sixers had 14 team turnovers (compared to 11 for Boston) and several of those led directly to easy, uncontested transition baskets for the Celtics.
In addition to defending in transition better, the Sixers also need to be more aggressive about generating their own offense on the break. To only get two fast break points is laughable, especially when you have the level of talent that the Sixers do. Moving forward, they need to pick up the pace. Getting the ball to Tyrese Maxey more frequently in the backcourt is a good start.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
Your Ultimate Guide to Every Day in Sports
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
3. A forgettable night for Embiid
Joel Embiid's final numbers from the game look pretty good: 26 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and a block. However, those numbers are a bit misleading, as Embiid certainly didn't have one of his better performances. I thought he spent entirely too much time lining up at the elbow or floating around the perimeter, as opposed to establishing post position, which has become his bread and butter over his past couple of MVP-caliber seasons. On the block is where he has his biggest advantage, and he just puts so much sheer pressure on the defense from that position. Plus, he's developed into a much-improved passer out of the post when he's double-teamed, which is almost always.
He shot just one of six from long range against the Celtics, but he shot eight of 12 on two-pointers and seven of nine from the foul line. Some of that is on Embiid to do a better job of establishing himself in the post, but some of it is scheme-related. Philadelphia needs to do a better job of helping the big man establish himself down low early and often. Embiid also had six turnovers against Boston, which isn't acceptable. He's become less turnover-prone over his career, but he was far too sloppy and loose with the ball in this game.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the first pair of teammates to each score 35+ points in a season opener since Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West did it for the Lakers in 1969. pic.twitter.com/tBaDKjtepS— NBA History (@NBAHistory) October 19, 2022
Jayson Tatum: “This is the best I’ve felt coming into a season in the last 2-3 years.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
The last Boston Celtics to drop 35+ points and 10+ rebounds in the first game of a season:— NBA History (@NBAHistory) October 19, 2022
Paul Pierce (11/3/2004)
Jayson Tatum (10/18/2022) pic.twitter.com/bJkUacfiKQ
The nifty pass from @smart_MS3 led to the big finish from @FCHWPO in tonight's @JetBlue Play of the Game 🔨 pic.twitter.com/vOMgDXBrUR— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
I want to thank everyone at the @celtics opening night for their outpouring of love & support through such creative tributes. Thank you Adam Silver the @nba, @NBAonTNT, the Celtics owners, & all of Bill’s fans for honoring my husband & his legacy. Let’s win #18 for the big guy!— Jeannine Russell (@MrsBillRussell) October 19, 2022
Noah Vonleh is my favorite player on the Celtics— Evan Turner (@thekidet) October 19, 2022
Jaylen Brown liked the resilience we showed by finishing strong to put the game away. pic.twitter.com/oHsMrP2ker— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Jaylen Brown, after his 35-point effort: “I feel like I can play a lot better.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Opened the season with a W behind 70 combined points from The Jays ☘️ https://t.co/QA4jJ3KwHS— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Coach Mazzulla: “I pride myself in the Boston fans and the city of Boston, and when they’re cheering for you, that means you’re doing something right.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Nothing like that first win✅💦 pic.twitter.com/73dNqcg9jt— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
NBA Best Duo Tatum and Brown hands down— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) October 19, 2022
Starting the season off with a W ✅ pic.twitter.com/4gleODRk9L— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
final.— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) October 19, 2022
🪙 @cryptocom pic.twitter.com/khGAqiGWQm
This one is over. The Celtics best the 76ers 126-117. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both dropped 35 points to propel Boston. James Harden also had 35 for Philadelphia.
sweet dish down low pic.twitter.com/oIXmr1OG2Z— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
The Celtics are pulling away with this one. They're up 15 with just over three minutes left in the game. They're going to start their season off with a solid win.
TELL 'EM GRANT pic.twitter.com/aMthhgvLV7— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Clock running down? No problem for @Grant2Will 🎯 pic.twitter.com/WGdLEhOAHa— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Embiid now up to six turnovers. As a team, Sixers have 14 TO's compared to Boston's 8.
after 3.— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) October 19, 2022
🪙 @cryptocom pic.twitter.com/m4KuCO9RcU
time to close this out ⏳— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
33 PTS and counting for JT pic.twitter.com/HvTjKJAcai
"If you're learning about the game, you want to emulate a lot of the qualities that he had."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Bill Russell was a legend in every sense of the word ☘️ pic.twitter.com/VslWnZF4vu
Celtics up by 10 after three quarters of action. Tatum leads all scorers with 33 points. Harden has 31 for Philly.
Jayson Tatum made some Celtics history in this game. He passed Paul Pierce for the most 30-point games by a Celtics player prior to turning 25 in franchise history, per ESPN Stats & Info. Tatum now has 66 career 30 point performances.
this man is catching fire @jaytatum0 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/lv59biKU5g— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 19, 2022
Celtics are up 11 with just under two minutes left in the third quarter. It's been all Boston in the third. Remember. this game was tied at halftime.
Embiid is up to five turnovers in the game. He simply needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball for Philadelphia.
Before tip-off tonight the @celtics honored Bill Russell with a poem titled "SESTINA" written and performed by Porsha Olayiwola 💚 pic.twitter.com/xAn4DuQx0j— NBA (@NBA) October 18, 2022