Boston came into this game not needing a win, but very much wanting one. Had they lost and fallen to 0-3, all against East teams hoping to make the playoffs, it would have been a long weekend before meeting the Knicks. With in a win in the bank they can now get a few days of practice, and maybe some icebreakers and trust falls, before Porzingis and whoever else play for the Kazoos arrive at the TD Garden.
Quick hit thoughts from the 102-91 victory over Philadelphia:
- Kyrie didn’t have the most efficient night of his life but he made big plays in the fourth quarter and had a lot of passes early on that led to open shots that just missed.
- Horford was having a terrible shooting night but, like Irving, got rolling when it really mattered. His passing and defense rarely drop off. He might be the most important player on the team with Hayward out.
- Congratulations to Guerschon Yabusele and Jabari Bird on making their NBA debuts. Yabu only played three minutes but drained a pick-and-pop three. Bird is currently the all-time scoring leader for 2-Way Contract players.
- Terry Rozier looks like a very important player for this team. He can shoot and is confident in his ability to shoot. This Celtics group needs that so bad; his development is make-or-break for the second unit. I suspect he’ll start against the Knicks making it the fourth different lineup in four games.
- Shane Larkin got the fourth quarter minutes over Tito, though. He rewarded that faith with a couple of huge shots and was a steady hand on the ball after three quarters of a turnover fest.
- Jaylen Brown had his first quiet game of the season. Still, he had eight rebounds and no turnovers and must have enjoyed not having to guard LeBron or Giannis.
- Tatum picked up the slack with 15/8 plus three blocks (plus a fourth on Fultz that was clean but called a foul). He looks like an ideal 3rd option because of his scoring versatility. Being a third option with the starters at 19 years old is very promising, to downplay things.
- Joel Embiid looked bad. He’s powerful and skilled but looks less nimble than last season. Maybe it’s weight or conditioning but he’s playing a lot more like Boogie Cousins than Hakeem Olajuwon right now.
- Fultz was worse. I have no idea what’s going on there. He got blocked multiple times by trailing defenders. He’s a PG on a team with a rookie PG ahead of him.
- Redick, Bayless, and (to a lesser extent) Covington were the best Sixers just based on making threes. With Hayward and Morris down, the Celtics would kill for a Redick or even Bayless.
- Simmons was about as advertised. A physical specimen who can’t take full advantage of it because you can put Al Horford on him and just have him give ground all the way to the rim and then contest there.
It’s always good to get one in the happy column, but extra nice when it’s against the Sixers. I do not like the Sixers.
(The officiating was terrible)