There were many things that could have drawn his ire, including the C’s 36.7% (33-for-90) shooting percentage, the horrific 20-for-34 showing at the free-throw line or the 29 fouls the C’s committed — Philadelphia recorded 34 fouls resulting in a sloppy game lacking rhythm — but Stevens, who is now in his seventh season in Boston, stayed upbeat through it all.
Celtics shot 36.7 percent from the field tonight. Their season-low in a game last year was 38.2 percent.— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) October 24, 2019
“I’m a lot more encouraged than discouraged,” Stevens said. “I thought we really came out and fought. It was a heckuva environment, we played a really good team and now we’ve just got to get better.”
It wasn’t all bad for the Celtics in a slog of a game, as some players flashed, including Gordon Hayward, who notched a game-high 25 points.
The C’s bigs — the positional group with the biggest question mark coming into this season — were a bright spot in spurts with their ability to slow down Joel Embiid, who scored just 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
Robert Williams III was the C’s only plus-player with a plus-7 and he came through with a thunderous block of Ben Simmons. Stevens singled out the defensive play of Enes Kanter, who also scored 12 points and added six rebounds in his Celtics debut, for his ability to hold Embiid up in one-on-one matchups.
“I thought Kanter was great,” Stevens said. “He’s a little banged up, which obviously is not good for us, but I thought he was great. I thought he really did a good job in isolation (defense) and allowed us to not to always have to double (team) because when we did we left the rim occasionally.”
Stevens almost always displays his composure on the sideline, so a loss on opening night isn’t going to get him ruffled or send him into a panic.
Over the 48 minutes, the C’s displayed some good while mixing in a lot of bad and some ugly as well. But it’s just game one of 82 and the C’s have plenty of time to work out all the kinks.
“We got to look at what we can do better and improve from it,” Stevens said. “It’s a long season. Our story isn’t written after one game, nobody’s is and we move forward and try to get better off of it and move on. They’re a good team and we got a lot that we can take from it.”