Keys to the Game: Celtics 122, Nets 117

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson will reference Wednesday’s Opening Night as a “never quit” lesson for his Nets.

In the end, however, Boston overcame Brooklyn’s never-say-die attitude.

The Celtics led by as many as 23 points with 5:41 left in the contest. Brad Stevens had removed all of his starters from the game and fully planned on resting them up ahead of Thursday night’s back-to-back against the Bulls in Chicago.

That plan didn’t exactly pan out, as Boston’s reserves squandered the lead away. Brooklyn whittled the C’s lead down to eight points before Stevens subbed all five of his starters back into the game with 2:06 left on the clock.

Boston’s starters didn’t fare much better, as the Nets continued to battle back and eventually pulled to within three points, at 120-117, with 46 seconds left in the game.

Following a turnover by the C’s, Brooklyn had not one, but two chances to tie the game. Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Harris each missed potential game-tying 3-pointers before Avery Bradley grabbed a rebound for Boston. Isaiah Thomas was eventually sent to the line, and he closed out the game’s scoring with two free throws.

Should this have been a blowout win for Boston? Absolutely. Was it? Absolutely not.

The Celtics had to hold on – and they needed a couple of key misses by Brooklyn – but they advanced to 1-0 on the season nonetheless.

Key Player

Isaiah Thomas didn’t miss a beat in his return to regular-season action Wednesday night. Heck, he didn’t miss a whole lot, period.

Thomas finished Wednesday’s season-opening victory with game highs of 25 points and nine assists. He accounted for one-quarter of Boston’s 36 assists on the night, a total that has been reported as the highest on Opening Night in the last 15 years.

Thomas was so active on this night that he actually contributed in an area that is typically close to empty in his box scores: the rebounding department. He grabbed six rebounds, marking the third-highest total on the team.

Boston outscored Brooklyn by 15 points during Thomas’ nearly 33 minutes of action. He finished the night having hit half of his 14 shots and all nine of his attempts from the free-throw line.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Brooklyn attempted 44 3-pointers, making 15 of them.
  • Isaiah Thomas led the game in both scoring (25 points) and assists (nine).
  • Both teams scored 50 points in the paint.
  • Thomas shot 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, while the rest of his teammates shot just 6-for-9.
  • The Celtics dished out an impressive 36 assists.
  • Justin Hamilton (19 points, 10 rebounds) was the only player in the game who logged a double-double.
  • Jae Crowder scored 21 points and shot 5-of-7 from inside the 3-point arc.
  • Al Horford blocked four shots, one more than Brooklyn's entire team.
  • Two of Brooklyn's reserves (Chris McCullough and Isaiah Whitehead) finished with plus/minus ratings of at least plus-12, while no other Nets player finished with a plus/minus rating better than plus-five.
  • Tyler Zeller came off the bench to score 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting for Boston.
  • Boston's largest lead was 23, while Brooklyn's was just four.
  • Avery Bradley stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and a steal.

Quote of the Night

Brad Stevens on his team's fourth-quarter turnovers on inbound passes.