The Celtics season-opening loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was anything but pretty, but Boston did manage to come away with a few bright spots.
Boston shot just 36.7 percent from the floor to go along with a 26.9 percent clip from beyond the arc, but head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss that he was encouraged by the output.
“I just told the guys I thought we did a lot of good things,” Stevens said, per the team. “I thought we competed … We need to capitalize more on the offensive end to win that game.”
Capitalizing more on the offensive end begins with Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. Both guards struggled Wednesday, shooting a combined 12-of-40 in their first regular-season game alongside one another. Those kind of nights happen, and Stevens took the positive route when addressing their performances as well.
“All that means with Kemba and Tatum is there’s a lot of good nights coming,” he added, via the team.
Stevens noted that he was much more encouraged than discouraged following the game, and if you’re looking for proof of that encouragement, look no further than Gordon Hayward.
Hayward was the Celtics’ most obvious bright spot, scoring a game-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting with five rebounds. The 29-year-old was aggressive down the stretch, collecting 21 of his 25 in the second half. It’s certainly a good sign moving forward that on nights when Tatum and Walker aren’t clicking, the offense can run through a versatile scorer like Hayward.
Take all of this with a grain of salt, as the Sixers are one of the best defensive teams in the league. It won’t always be this difficult for the Celtics to function with the ball against other opponents, meaning Boston might have a very solid three-headed monster in Tatum, Walker and Hayward.
Here are some more notes from Wednesday’s Celtics-76ers game:
— Boston and Philadelphia combined for 63 fouls, with Jaylen Brown collecting five of his own prior to the midway point of the third quarter.
Foul trouble limited him for the majority of the night, but Brown says it hurt his teammates as well, per The Athletic’s Jay King.
Jaylen Brown: “We fouled way too much. Not just me, as a team.”
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) October 24, 2019
— Kemba Walker knows it’ll take a little time to come together as a cohesive unit, but he’s still very confident moving forward.
“It takes time for teams to really come together and get better and be in rhythm,” Walker said, per The Boston Globe’s Nicole Yang. “Game 1, obviously it sucks that we lost. But I think we’re still extremely confident. We still believe in each other. It’s a long year”
— Marcus Smart took a shot to the throat in Wednesday’s first half, which resulted in a strained windpipe, according to The Athletic’s Jay King.
— The Celtics were terrible from the free-throw line, going 20-for-34 on the night.
— The Celtics take on the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at TD Garden. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.