The Celtics entered the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's season opener in Philly facing a nine-point deficit, though appeared to be seizing momentum as they began the frame with a 5-0 burst. The Sixers, however, didn't let Boston get over the hump, as they turned a four-point lead into a 16-point advantage in a matter of three minutes.
Philly was barely hanging onto a 77-73 lead when it began its 13-1 run at the 9:20 mark of the final frame. Furkan Korkmaz and Tobias Harris kickstarted the run with a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by two buckets from Ben Simmons. Just like that, Philly found itself in the driver's seat with an 87-73 advantage.
Kyle O'Quinn then knocked down another triple, putting Philly ahead 90-74. Boston's only point during the stretch was a free-throw make from Daniel Theis.
The Celtics went over three minutes without making a field goal, while Philadelphia made five shots, including three treys during that same span. That was enough to help the Sixers cruise to a 107-93 win at Wells Fargo Center.
There was a lot of talk during training camp and preseason about Gordon Hayward potentially returning to his former self this season after having a full, healthy summer to work off of. Wednesday night's season opener was about as good of a start as he could have hoped for, as the veteran wing played like a star for the Celtics.
Hayward shot 8-for-15 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line, giving him 25 points for the game. That's a mark that he reached or surpassed only five times all of last season.
The most promising part of Hayward's game was how strongly he drove to the basket time and time again. He did not always look comfortable driving to the rim through contact last season, but he showed no hesitation in that area Wednesday night.
Hayward's aggressive play ultimately did not lead the Celtics to a win over a tough Philly squad, but if he can play that way consistently this season, it will surely open things up for them on offense.
Box Score Nuggets
- Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 25 points.
- Jayson Tatum recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
- Al Horford logged 16 points, two rebounds and three assists during his first game against his former Celtics team.
- Both teams made seven 3-pointers. Philly attempted 29, three more than Boston.
- There were a total of 24 missed free throws in the game.
- Tatum attempted 22 field goals – one off of his career-high.
- Marcus Smart dished out eight assists. No other Celtic had more than two.
- Twelve different Celtics players saw action within the first 15 minutes of the game.
- There were a total of 63 personal fouls during the game.
- Jaylen Brown committed five personal fouls during his first 10 minutes of action.
- Philadelphia held a 62-41 advantage on the boards.
- The loss marked Boston's fourth in its last 21 regular-season meetings with Philly.
Quote of the Night
All that means with Kemba and Tatum is there’s a lot of good nights coming.
Brad Stevens on Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum having tough shooting nights.