Celtics Win Home Opener Against Sixers

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both scored 35 points. The Celtics controlled the pace of play in the second half. Joe Mazzulla got a win in his first regular-season game as an NBA head coach.

The Celtics guarded James Harden and Joel Embiid tighter after the first quarter, limiting them to one free throw and 26 points, respectively.

The Celtics limited turnovers (11) and second-chance opportunities for Philadelphia, so they were able to play up-tempo in the second half and take control of the game.

While the Celtics gave up an offensive rebound on the game’s first possession, which has been a consistent problem during the preseason without Robert Williams out there to help limit opponents to one shot, Boston came out with tremendous energy.

The Celtics got off to a quick start, with Jayson Tatum scoring 7 points in the first few minutes. This included a corner three and a fast break layup after Marcus Smart stripped the ball from Joel Embiid.

At 8:14, Joe Mazzulla replaced Al Horford with Noah Vonleh. Vonleh then committed a foul by tripping Joel Embiid.

While Vonleh was energetic and working hard, he made a mistake when he tried to hand the ball off to Tatum. This led to a turnover and Jaylen Brown fouling James Harden, who then got a free throw.

Grant Williams quickly made an impact once he checked in. He showed off his improved ability off the dribble, driving baseline out of the left corner for a layup that cut Boston’s deficit to 15-13 with 5:40 remaining.

The fans in the TD Garden gave Blake Griffin a loud ovation when he entered the game for the first time with 3:39 remaining in the opening frame.

Griffin got two rebounds on his first try–one when Grant Williams tipped the ball to him–but Boston didn’t get any points from it.

When the period ended, the Sixers were winning by 5 points. A lot of fouls were called, so neither team could keep a good rhythm going or play fast. That hurt the Celtics more than the visitors.

In ten minutes, Tatum produced eight points. This included a pair of strong takes to the basket, which got him to the free-throw line. At the free-throw line, he went 3/4.

Brown didn’t have a great game, scoring only four points and turning the ball over twice. Williams did better, scoring five points and making a three-pointer.

Harden scored 16 points, including 8 free throws, and drew multiple fouls from beyond the arc. The Celtics held Embiid to one point on two shots and he also picked up two fouls.

Malcolm Brogdon was not active in the first frame but quickly made himself felt in the second. Boston’s new sixth man generated six points in 1:30, including two layups.

Harden capitalized on the Celtics giving him too much space at the 6:21 mark, drilling a three in front of Al Horford to put Philadelphia ahead 45-43. Playing off him has led to Harden finding and sustaining his rhythm from the early going and controlling the pace by creating fouls from contesting his shot late.

With 3:32 left, Tatum went strong to the rim after Embiid stumbled while trying to attack Vonleh in the low post, which trimmed the deficit to 55-53.

After a minute, when Harden shook Smart off him and tried to shoulder shimmy, badly bricking a three from the left slot, Tatum again attacked the basket and finished with a reverse layup. This brought the crowd to life and cut the Sixers’ lead to 58-57.

Harden responded to a tough shot with a three from 29 feet to tie the game at 61. After a Montrezl Harrell dunk and two free throws from Smart, the Celtics and Sixers entered halftime tied at 63.

Brown led Boston with 18 points on 7/14 shooting at the break. Tatum had 16, converting on five of his nine field goals and adding five points on seven free throws. The hosts also got a boost from Brogdon, who went into halftime with ten points.

The Celtics collectively shot 54.8 percent from the field and assisted on 12/23 field goals. Their aggressive approach also led to 30 points in the paint and going 13/16 at the charity stripe (81.3 percent).

There are two other important factors in Boston overcoming its defensive problems while Philadelphia shot 50 percent from the field and 9/20 (45 percent) on three-point shots. Boston only had five turnovers, which limited the Sixers to two fast break points. Even though Philadelphia had nine points from giveaways, Boston will accept this number, especially because of its own problems taking care of the ball.

Harden had 22 points at halftime, more than anyone else. He made 5 out of 9 shots and 4 out of 7 shots from far away. He didn’t try to get a free throw in the second quarter. Embiid had 11 points and six rebounds at halftime.

Boston needs to stop giving Houston’s James Harden so much room to shoot. He hit many 3-pointers and also drew fouls, which helped Philadelphia control the pace of the game in the first half.

The second half became more intense as Smart’s arm got stuck between Embiid’s shoulder and his body. Embiid then pulled Smart’s shoulder away, causing him to fall to the ground in pain. Smart stood up and faced Embiid, and Brown got involved too, knocking Embiid over. This resulted in a foul and a technical against Smart. However, it also showed Brown’s loyalty to his team.

At the 10:14 mark, Derrick White made a 16-foot jump shot that came with a foul on Maxey. He then pumped up the crowd afterward. It was only his second shot of the game, but Boston needs him to continue with the aggressive approach he displayed throughout the preseason.

The Celtics next two best players then took charge, scoring the team’s next ten points, with the exception of one free throw from Smart. Tatum hit two jump shots and kept up his aggressive approach, which resulted in him matching Harden for the most free throws in the game (nine). Brown also had another powerful dunk.

Starting at the 4:45 mark, Boston scored 8 points in a row, including threes by Tatum and Smart, to build a 90-78 lead and make the crowd very excited.

The Celtics were up by ten points going into the fourth quarter.

Sam Hauser got his first chance to play in the fourth quarter. He quickly got a foul trying to stay with Maxey. That led to two free throws from Maxey, cutting Boston’s lead to 98-90.

Brogdon went right by Milton at the 9:57 mark for a layup to make it 103-94.

Brown stepped in front of a pass by Embiid and laid it in to extend Boston’s advantage to 105-94.

With 6:35 remaining, White found Williams, who also attacked Embiid and came away with two points. The difference was it also produced Embiid’s fourth foul. Williams added the tax and gave the Celtics a 115-102 lead.

This sentence is telling a story about a basketball game. With 6:35 remaining on the clock, a player on the Celtics team (White) passed the ball to another player on the team (Williams). Williams then scored two points, which also resulted in the other team’s player (Embiid) getting a fourth foul. Williams then made a free throw, which gave the Celtics a 115-102 lead.

Vonleh played for a long time, including staying in the game until there was only 4:57 left. Vonleh had some good moments and some bad moments, but he always tried hard and he was a big help to the team when he was playing, especially when he was playing with Horford.

Brown hit a three at 3:22 from the left wing to make the score 118-103. This gave the Celtics more space because Philadelphia was close.

Tatum passed the ball to Brown with 1:26 left. Brown made a long-range shot to put the hosts up 126-110.

The Celtics are playing the Heat in Miami on Friday. The game starts at 7:30 pm EST.

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