Last night, the Celtics won game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101. And while Boston fans have much to cheer for, they are also holding their breaths.
Minutes into the fourth quarter, Gordon Hayward went down with an ankle injury. He’s expected to get an MRI as soon as the next day. He was however able to walk off the court under his own will. But the injury will be a blow for what is already a thin rotation if Hayward misses time. Especially considering this game was tightly contested throughout. Before he got hurt, he pulled in 12 points and a team-high 4 steals.
On the upside, the Celtics were able to find offense through their elite backcourt. Not just from the older veterans, but from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum led the way with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Showing just why he was an All-Star and a considerable MVP candidate during the season. Played a major role on offense and defense with his rebounding and blocked shots.
Jaylen Brown also played a major factor in their win last night with 29 points on 56% shooting. His efficiency on offense played nicely for the team as he hit big 3’s and attacked the basket. The most eye-catching part didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Both Brown and Tatum at some point guarded all 5 positions on the floor. Being able to do that while not lacking in the offensive department deserves recognition.
As expected, the frontcourt of the Celtics was a crutch in their defense. Joel Embiid dropped 26 points, mostly coming from inside the paint. The former Kansas center was able to score at will at times when he posted up. It was an entire team effort for the Celtics as they switched, double-teamed, and denied Embiid. He also took over the boards with 16 rebounds to lead Philly.
The Philly bench outscored Boston 23-8. Meaning most of the Celtics' points came from the starting five. Veterans such as Kemba Walker did seem to play pretty well considering he had a nagging knee injury. Causing him to load manage. However, he did clock in at 35 minutes with 19 points. Down the stretch, Walker made big shots and hit his free throws to help put the game away.
Boston's defense was an all-round team effort. They forced the Sixers into 18 turnovers. Despite being undersized as a team, the Celtics outrebounded Philly 16-15. Coach Brad Stevens played all the centers he had in his rotation.
Game 1 was a solid and promising win for the Celtics. Without Ben Simmons playing for Philly, they lack enough depth. A mixture of young All-Stars and veteran All-Stars for Boston looks to be a lot to handle. However, Boston will keep their eyes out for the status of Hayward’s injury. Depending on what the result is, it might alter the chances of getting to the finals.
Featured Image Via USA Today