The Boston Celtics started their season on an extreme high Tuesday night when they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 105-87 in the TD Garden. This was the inaugural game of the 2019 NBA season and it would be contested by two teams considered by most to be among the best in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics would be starting with superstars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the floor for the first time since the inaugural game of last season, along with up and coming stars Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum. Opposing them would be a big three Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and 2017 number one overall pick Markelle Fultz.
From the start Boston was in control, though the first half was not fluid basketball. For the first 24 minutes it appeared as if both teams were still in preseason form. This was no truer for Irving and Hayward who throughout the night couldn’t get it going, eventually shooting a combined 6-26 from the floor.
Despite superstar struggles, Boston found a way to get a convincing win. Tatum lead the way scoring with 23 points, and Marcus Morris registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The quality of Boston’s depth was on full display. Not one Celtic registered more than 30 minutes of game time and the 76ers had no answer.
Head coach Brad Stevens tipped his cap to his bench after the game.
“Our depth was a big factor in the game. Whenever things started to go awry and we put new fresh guys in, they all made plays.”
Stevens also had thoughts on his superstars.
“I mean, Kyrie’s never going to have a game like that, probably. Everybody’s been talking about Gordon being gone for twelve months, but Kyrie’s been out for six. I had no intention of really restricting him minutes-wise, but it’s probably not all bad to play 29 in that first one and get your feet underneath you and get ready to go from here.”
Boston has now won 15 of its last 17 regular season match ups with the 76ers, not including last seasons playoff series which Boston won in five games. Though there is much animosity do not call this a rivalry, says Embiid.
“”This is not a rivalry. I don’t know our record against them. But it’s pretty bad. They always kick our a**. So this is not a rivalry.”
The Celtics next game will be against another Eastern Conference powerhouse, the Toronto Raptors on Friday Oct 19.