Mike DePrisco: I’ve liked how Kyrie is scoring more off of cuts in this game as opposed to going primarily off the dribble. Especially without Hayward, Irving will most likely have to exhaust his full offensive repertoire to maximize this team’s potential.
Tim MacLean: Not many positives to take from this one but I was pleased with the rebounding the Celtics got out of their starting five (39). Boston has won the rebounding battle in two of its first three games and they’re doing it by committee. Definitely a pleasant surprise after the last few years.
Greg Cassoli: Al Horford gave a master class in how to maintain one's composure. He struggled to shoot the ball throughout the first three quarters of the game, but came through when things mattered most. It takes experience to be able to keep focused through poor performance in that way, something that can't be found in many other places on the Celtics' roster.
Having a steady hand on a team chalk full of younger players will prove invaluable, particularly in the wake of Gordon Hayward's injury. Boston needs Horford to fill that role. He doesn't have to be great all the time, but he's got to bring it when the game is on the line. That's exactly what he did tonight.
Lachlan Marr: The team looked a little more comfortable together throughout this game than they did against the Bucks. Kyrie showed up as a leader in the 4th and provided some much needed late-game offense, while Al Horford remained a positive stabilizing force throughout. But it was improvements from the Celtics young guns that were really impressive in this game especially considering they were playing against the pick-hoarding Process devotees from Philadelphia. Tatum showed bucketloads of maturity in his game, while Terry Rozier again showed up as a force and Shane Larkin was surprisingly adept when running the offense. I was also excited to see Jaylen Brown continued to show his development and explosiveness, making his mark on this game as he did on the previous two, even though he had a haphazard shooting night and ultimately didn’t score that much.
The Celtics’ success this season rests on the shoulders of their established talent, like Irving and Horford. But if the Celtics’ younger players continue to grow in leaps and bounds as they have so far then this team will have a great season and be a lot of fun to watch.
Bill Sy: Great insight here from former CelticsBlogger Jared Weiss:
Boston used 40 pick-and-roll possessions. Sixers just 17.— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) October 21, 2017
Whether it was Kyrie Irving in the first half or Shane Larkin and Terry Rozier in the second, it was interesting to see the variety of ways that these point guards use picks above the break.
Irving is a downhill skier. He’s so crafty with his dribble and a great finisher around the rim who doesn’t want to settle for the open mid-range shot.
Rozier, on the other hand, isn’t the shape shifter that Kyrie is, but his fearlessness to attack the rim is great coming off the bench. With teams nearing or in the penalty, that hopefully translates to free throws.
Shane Larkin is 5’11, so he’s not as likely to dive into the paint and challenge shot blockers. Instead, he’s got such a quick release after coming off a screen.
Against the Sixers, the Celtics countered Philly’s size by putting their big men in peril in the pick-and-roll. You always want defenses to make either/or propositions. Boston shot only 41.7% from the field, but it was enough to be Philadelphia last night. Don’t be surprised if Stevens relies heavily on the 1-5 PnR to initiate the offense rather than attack from the wings.