Unfortunately, all of the good came early and Boston has watched a double-digit lead disappear and trails 61-54 at the break.
Get ready for some halftime hot takes, buddy.
Derrick White is important
After missing two games for the birth of his second child, Derrick White is BACK — and it’s great to see him. The father of two has been everywhere early in this one. He has scored, set up his teammates, played defense, and even crashed the glass.
That Derrick White and Porzingis two man game is special pic.twitter.com/QS7CM9zxzR— CelticsUnite❶❽ (@CelticsUnite18) November 9, 2023
With how he’s played so far tonight, it’s not surprising that he’s so impactful toward the team’s net rating.
In 251 possessions with Derrick White on the court, the Celtics are a +30.7 and average 130.3 points per 100.— Adam Taylor (@AdamTaylorNBA) November 8, 2023
With White off the court, they are a +4.8 in 308 possessions and average 113 points per 100.
Sample is slightly skewed, but that is a huge disparity
In his first half back with the Cs, White has nine points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Rebounding is also important
Philadelphia has gotten back into this game because the Celtics stopped rebounding as a team. Early on, there were three or four white jerseys on the glass looking to close out every defensive possession. As the once-double-digit lead withered away, so did the rebounding effort.
Paul Reed turned this game around in just five minutes of play. He ripped down three quick offensive rebounds and turned them into six points and some momentum for the 76ers.
Jrue Holiday is going to get DPOY votes
This is now the third time this season that Jrue Holiday has had the assignment of defending the opposing team’s best offensive big man. He was tasked with trying to slow down reigning MVP Joel Embiid tonight and held his own.
Embiid was able to get going early, but he wasn’t overly dominant. His 10 first-quarter points were probably tougher than he would’ve liked them to be, and he didn’t look comfortable against the smaller Holiday. In fact, the 29-year-old coughed up the ball two times due to No. 4’s defensive pressure.
Competitive Character of Jrue Holiday— Joey Burton (@JoeyBurton) November 9, 2023
Defends Embiid as his direct matchup for 3 possessions. Gets stops on 2 of them and Celtics get 4 fast break points. pic.twitter.com/VlQ5JlZq7j
Defensive versatility like what we’ve seen from the veteran so far this season, is exactly what helped Marcus Smart’s Defensive Player of the Year win in 2022. His ability to guard just about anyone that he’s matched up against will earn the respect of voters around the league. There’s no way that April rolls around and there isn’t at least talk of Holiday being named the league’s best defender.
It sure would be nice if Payton Pritchard could put the ball in the basket
After lighting the world on fire in the preseason, Payton Pritchard has been nowhere to be found throughout the opening stretch of Boston’s regular season — at least in terms of scoring. He’s been able to log career highs in both assists and rebounds despite the inefficient start.
Pritchard’s shooting struggles continued in the first half tonight as he missed all three of his field goal attempts.
The way that the recently-extended guard has been able to impact the game by simply hustling and making the right pass is great, but he’d be so much more dangerous if he was scoring.
Payton Pritchard now 8-33 from the field and 3-20 from 3 to open the season. Tough start for him after a great preseason.— Souichi Terada | 寺田惣一 (@SouichiTerada) November 9, 2023
It sure is nice that Sam Hauser has remembered how to put the ball in the basket
Pritchard’s bench partner Sam Hauser has fared far better tonight. The duo had both been struggling to start the 2023-24 campaign, failing to convert on some good looks. Tonight, Hauser has looked like the player who was a part of the Celtics’ rotation last year.
Through the first 24 minutes of this one, he’s knocked down a pair of threes and tallied eight points in 10 minutes off of Boston’s bench.
His ability to be consistent from long-range is so important to the Celtics’ spacing. It’s great to see that he’s seemingly found his stroke again.