BOSTON, Mass — The Boston Celtics kicked off their 2018-19 NBA season on a high note.
After both the C’s and the Philadelphia 76ers struggled throughout the first half, Boston pulled away in the final two quarters to earn a 105-87 win at TD Garden.
Jayson Tatum had the big night for the green, posting a team-high 23 points. Marcus Morris (16 points, 10 rebounds), Jaylen Brown (12 points), Terry Rozier (11 points) and Gordon Hayward (10 points) also scored in double figures for the home team.
Philadelphia’s stars Joel Embiid (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (19 points, 15 rebounds) impressed, but it wasn’t enough to earn a road win.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Gordon Hayward
C: Al Horford
TD Garden was rocking leading up to tip-off, but the volume was brought back down to a moderate level once play got underway, as neither team looked particularly sharp early on. The Celtics shot an underwhelming 32 percent from the field in the first quarter — which concluded with the score deadlocked at 21-21 — while the 76ers weren’t much better, posting a 39-percent mark. Tatum was the lone bright spot in the opening 12 minutes, pacing all scorers with nine points. But in a first frame that featured nine combined turnovers and a combined 2-for-12 clip from 3-point range, there wasn’t much else to get excited about.
It was much of the same in the second stanza, as neither team was able to regroup and find a rhythm after the ugly first. The Celtics showed more signs of life, though, and took a 47-42 lead into the break. Boston received a boost from its bench to the tune of seven points from Marcus Smart and four from Terry Rozier. Hayward also got his first points of the season under his belt, chipping in four.
Philly leaned on its top guys to weather the storm, with Embiid and Simmons each providing five points. Simmons nearly posted a first-half triple-double, too, coming up just short with nine rebounds. Last year’s No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz also looked fairly impressive with five points in the quarter.
After a sloppy, back-and-forth affair in the first half, the Celtics upped their play right out of the gate in the third quarter and took a 77-66 lead into the fourth, which marked the first double-digit advantage of the game. Boston’s bench continued to come up big, as Morris powered the home team with eight points in the frame. Tatum wasn’t too far behind with seven, including an emphatic slam and pretty and-1. Kyrie Irving, who was held scoreless in the first half, logged five points. Philadelphia continued to struggle to find a hot hand, as no Sixer scored more than six points in the third.
The Celtics didn’t let up as the fourth quarter got underway, preventing the 76ers from mounting any sort of real comeback. After being limited to five points through the first three quarters, Brown provided a spark in the final frame with seven points, while Rozier wasn’t too far behind with five. The trio of Embiid, Simmons and JJ Redick helped keep the Sixers relatively in the game, combining for 20 points in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to make this one all that interesting down the stretch.
The Celtics return to action Friday night against the Toronto Raptors. Tip-off from Scotiabank Arena is set for 8 p.m. ET.