The Boston Celtics opened the 2018-19 season with a 105-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. What started as a celebration of sorts for a finally healthy Celtics roster ended the same way as last year’s playoffs. Boston pulled away in the second half behind solid defense and efficient offense keyed by the bench.
Jayson Tatum led the way with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. He scored nine of Boston’s first 11 points and never looked back on his way to a big night. Al Horford chipped in his usual terrific all-around game, as he scored nine points, to go along with great defense, highlight by five blocks.
Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward struggled at time during their first game back, as the two combined to shoot just 6 of 26 from the floor. The important part was that both looked more comfortable as the game went along and were aggressive going to the hoop in the second half.
With Irving and Hayward having an off night, the Boston reserves stepped up. Aron Baynes gave the Celtics a lift with good defense on Joel Embiid, and he hit two three-pointers on his way to eight points, four rebounds and three assists.
Marcus Morris helped carry the scoring load, as he chipped in 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Terry Rozier added 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Ben Simmons got his season off to a good start with a 19-point, 15-rebound, 8-assist night. Embiid added 23 points, but he shot just 9 of 21 from the field against some tough Boston defense.
Markelle Fultz got the start for Philadelphia but was largely ineffective with just five points in 24 minutes. JJ Redick came off the bench after being replaced by Fultz in the starting lineup, and he scored 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting.
Boston will next play on Friday night at the division rival Toronto Raptors.