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Three overreactions to the 1-0 Celtics

Small sample theater here.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, almost every take – hot, and even cold – is an overreaction this early in the season. But, these are some really outlandish overreactions that, quite frankly, most rational and levelheaded Celtics fans probably shouldn’t even agree with. That probably won’t stop most of us (and definitely myself) from forming season-long beliefs about the men in green, only for those beliefs to drastically change a week from now (or *checks Celtics schedule* on Friday). So, here are three overreactions to the Celtics win against the 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers (117) Vs. Boston Celtics (126) at TD Garden Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Noah Vonleh is the answer at backup center...

It was a shock to many that Noah Vonleh was the first player off the bench for the Celtics. No, not the first big… the first player. You read that right the first time. He surprisingly held his own against the most physically dominant big in today’s game; his strength was (oddly) enough to handle Embiid with his back to the basket, and his 7’4 wingspan and elite leaping ability allowed him to play solid drop coverage in the pick and roll.

More importantly, though, he showcased a really solid motor and knack for attacking the offensive glass (something than any big without a developed offensive skill set must have in order to be playable). He seems as though he can be a solid placeholder for Al (and eventually Rob), because he plays with intensity, unselfishness, and the physical tools needed to sustain a front court for 20 minutes a game.


We didn’t get to see Vonleh switch on to perimeter players too often, which will definitely be important in terms of determining his longevity as the backup big. The Celtics are a switching team, and he has to be able to effectively guard smaller guards on the three-point line, or else the entire switching scheme is ruined. Rob Williams can do it. Al Horford can do it. Grant Williams can certainly do it. But can Vonleh? Only time will tell.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Malcolm Brogdon was always the missing piece...

Mark me down for a firm seat on the Malcolm Brogdon bandwagon. I love his tight and secure, close-to-the-body dribbling style, and I love his ability to finish at the rim in a variety of ambidextrous ways. What I love most, though, is his uncanny ability to find teammates at the exact perfect time, time and time again.

He is exactly what this team was missing last year: a tertiary ball handler and playmaker who could serve as a calming force when the stars weren’t hitting, but also, simultaneously, a solid floor spacer and ball mover who can fit right in when the Jays are feeling themselves and need the ball. Which is… well… quite often.


It’s not surprising that Brogdon looked good. It’s his first game since March 18th, so he’s fresh and ready to go. However, injuries have always been the concern with Brogdon. He’s played more than 60 games in only two of his six NBA seasons, and I’ll be curious to see if he plays with the same pop and quickness as the season wears on. Good news is he won’t need to handle as much of an offensive burden as he did with the Pacers, theoretically decreasing the chances of a usage-related injury.

Philadelphia 76ers (117) Vs. Boston Celtics (126) at TD Garden Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tatum is coming for MVP...

The stats tell a solid story, but the eye test tells a better one in this case. Yes, he put up a loud 34, 12, and 4, but it was the intensity and vigor with which he did it that makes me overreact in this manner. He took the ball to the hole with a lot more strength and a lot less foul-baiting than he did last season, and he made some impressive new finishes at the rim that would normally seem improbable. He also attacked the glass with reckless abandon, seemingly hunting Giannis-like rebound and fast-break opportunities at various pivotal points throughout the game.

The best part of Tatum’s game one performance, though, was how locked in and focused he was on the defensive end. He was active in the passing/driving lanes as a rim protector, and as an on-ball defender. He showed me that he is really coming into this season with a new outlook on the game. It’s more serious to him, and so is that MVP resume builder.


It’s the first game of the season, so of course Tatum was amped. In fact, it actually would have been a serious problem if he had come out sluggish (if you can’t get up for the home opener, what game can you get up for?). But, his intensity can logically be chalked up to first game excitement, and it’ll obviously be impossible to sustain that for an entire season (which is what’s required to win the trophy). He’ll have to find other ways to stay locked in, and the jury is out on whether he can do that.

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