BOSTON — The most important moment of Thursday’s Boston Celtics game had little to do with the game itself, and it even was prior to tip-off.
Boston’s 119-104 win over the Golden State Warriors marked the C’s first game at TD Garden since the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash.
Following the national anthem, the Celtics held a touching tribute to Bryant. His No. 24 was beamed onto the court and a 24-second moment of silence took place followed by a tribute video to Bryant.
It was a well-done tribute, and Brad Stevens and the players alike appreciated the execution of it all.
“I thought it was really special,” said Jayson Tatum, who was close with Bryant. “It was cool to see. He definitely deserves that, and I thought it was really special of the Celtics to do that.”
Stevens echoed Tatum’s sentiment.
“Really nice, really nice,” Stevens said. “The video was great, our people do a great job with that. It was really important to our leadership team, our ownership, people in our corporate office that it was done and done well from our perspective. I thought it was really nice.”
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Celtics-Warriors game:
— In his first contest back from a three-game absence due to a right groin strain, Tatum dropped 20 points. The 21-year-old added six rebounds with a pair of assists.
It wasn’t necessarily a game that needed taking over, but once they found a rhythm the Celtics’ wing players, all available for the first time in 10 days, started clicking.
“I thought he started off rusty,” Stevens said of Tatum. “I didn’t think we were great early. Gordon (Hayward) and Jaylen (Brown) had great first halves and that put us in a pretty good position. (Marcus) Smart’s third quarter probably sealed the game. … But I thought Jayson looked more like himself towards his last stints.”
Tatum was on a minutes restriction of about 25 minutes, and ultimately played 23:52.
— Hayward poured in a game-high 25 points.
It was the fourth straight game Hayward scored at least 20, the longest such streak of his Celtics tenure.
Maybe more importantly is Hayward grabbing eight rebounds. In the four games, the Celtics have been without Enes Kanter, they’ve become increasingly reliant on their wing players collecting boards.
Hayward has answered that call well.
“He’s always been a pretty good rebounder from the wing,” Stevens said. “So that’s got to be one of our strengths as a team. We don’t have fives that are traditional rebounders with Kanter out, so our wings really have to rebound for us. If we’re going to have a chance to have success against teams like Philly on Saturday or teams that are bigger than us, we’re going to have to have our wings be great rebounders.”
— The years of work Marcus Smart has put in on his 3-point shot really are starting to show.
Smart had 21 points in 27:25 off the bench, hitting half of his 10 attempts from deep.
— Semi Ojeleye very much remains a part of the Celtics’ rotation.
Ojeleye got 29:24 off the bench, most of his career. In that time he contributed nine points on 3-for-5 shooting with four rebounds, an assist and a pair of steals.