Step away from the panic button, Boston Celtics fans.
The C’s have had a rough start to the 2017-18 season, as they dropped the first two games and lost Gordon Hayward to a gruesome ankle injury. But Boston started to come together Friday night, as Kyrie Irving and Al Horford carried the Celtics to a 102-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
Boston’s two veterans combined for 16 fourth-quarter points, as the team was able to hold off the scrappy Sixers in a sloppy, turnover-filled game. Irving led Boston with 21 points, while Horford (17 points, nine rebounds), Terry Rozier (14 points, seven rebounds), Jayson Tatum (15 points), Aron Baynes (10 points, eight rebounds) and Shane Larkin (10 points) each scored in double digits.
J.J. Redick led the 76ers with 19 points. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both added 11.
The Celtics improved to 1-2 with the win, while the 76ers fell to 0-2.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
The Celtics already were without Hayward after he dislocated his ankle and fractured his tibia during the season opener Tuesday. Boston’s wing depth was further depleted Friday, as Marcus Smart missed the game with two sprained ankles.
DUELING DRAFT PICKS
Boston famously traded the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the 76ers in exchange for the No. 3 overall pick and a future protected first-round pick. The 76ers drafted Markelle Fultz, while the C’s took Tatum. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the player the C’s took at No. 3 is the same player they would have taken at No. 1.
And there was a perfect metaphor for that exchange during the first quarter, as Tatum stuffed Fultz from behind when the guard attempted to drive past him and finish at the rim.
Tatum paced the Celtics in the first quarter with six points and Irving and Horford each added five, as the C’s led 24-21 after the opening frame. Redick led the 76ers with six points in the quarter.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the first, as Boston shot 37.5 percent and Philly only hit 33.3 percent of its shots.
SLOPPY FIRST HALF
Boston allowed the 76ers to hang around in the first half and eventually take a halftime lead by turning the ball over 13 times and shooting an abysmal 41.7 percent from the free throw line.
Boston held a slim lead halfway through the second quarter, but the 76ers went on an 8-0 run capped by a Redick 3-pointer to tie the game at 37. Philadelphia finished the half on a 13-9 run, as Boston turned the ball over four times in the final minute and a half.
Irving led Boston with 12 points at the half, while Brown added nine. Redick paced the 76ers with 12.
CELTICS FINISH STRONG
Boston trailed by three entering the fourth quarter, as both teams failed to establish a rhythm in the third.
Both squads got it going in the fourth, though, as they traded the leads for the first half of the final frame. Then, the Celtics took over at the 5:37 mark.
Tatum took T.J. McConnell off the bounce and hit a bank shot to give Boston a four-point lead. Two possessions later, Irving knocked down a jumper of his own to swell the lead to six.
Then, after Redick missed a jump shot, Irving found Larkin for a wide open 3-pointer that grew the lead to seven and that was the ballgame.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Simmons is really good.
The Celtics will be back in action Tuesday when they take on the New York Knicks at TD Garden. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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