As I sit down writing this article, wearing my Gordon Hayward jersey with the biggest grin on my face, I can now officially say to all of you: the Celtics are back.
Where do I start? It feels like we’ve been waiting for this night forever. Between Gordon Hayward making his highly-anticipated return to the Boston Celtics lineup, question marks regarding how well our young guys will play alongside Kyrie and Hayward, and how we’d match up against our biggest rival in the NBA, the Celtics delivered and answered all those questions.
Let’s start with Gordon Hayward. He’s back. Guys, he’s back. He only played 25 minutes, which was expected. It’s going to take a bit for Hayward to find comfort in his game again. Although he finished shooting 4-12 from the field, his jumper looked smooth and was looking to create his own shot. His twelve shot attempts give me confidence that he is not going to be afraid to find his shot and look to score even when he’s having an off night. He’s still searching for his role on the team, which is honestly tough to do with all the talent surrounding him. It’ll come eventually, but when it does, he’s going to be a monster. On the defensive side of things, he had four steals, which is tied for his career-high. All-n-all, this was an impressive “debut” for Hayward, and I can’t wait for him to return to his former All-Star self.
Kyrie Irving didn’t have the greatest of games, huh? Well, don’t you find it crazy how the team’s best player can finish with just 7 points on a poor 2-14 shooting but still beat the Sixers by 18? This just proves how deep our team is and how guys can step up when needed. Our guys proved this in the playoffs last season, and nothing seemed to have changed.
If we’re going to be honest here, Kyrie just had a crappy night. Why? I don’t know. First game jitters maybe? I mean, he didn’t score at all until the second half, and those points came from the free throw line. Our guys are going to have games like this. It’s just going to happen, but that’s why having a deep bench is so important.
That leads me into our next topic: Terry Rozier. @ Danny Ainge: PLEASE DO NOT TRADE SCARY TERRY AND RE-SIGN THIS MAN IN THE OFFSEASON. I am in love with Terry Rozier and everything he brings to the team. He was one of the best players on the court tonight. He led the game with a plus/minus of +22. He’s flashy, can put on a highlight reel, and honestly, he’s the perfect backup for Kyrie Irving. This is why we shouldn’t let Rozier go; he can make up for when Kyrie underperforms like he did tonight. He jumps sky-high for rebounds (eight on the night), plays hard defense, oh, and he blocks the living hell out of Joel Embiid.
I understand Rozier’s going to be asking for a lot of money next offseason, which he should, and I’m praying that the Celtics are the team to give it to him. He’s going to be a lead candidate for 6th Man of the Year, and in my opinion, will win it. His shoes are fire, too.
Jaylen Brown had a relatively quiet night. He was quiet in the sense that he was being overlooked by the other players on the team. He finished with just 12 points, but had a plus/minus of +11, just trailing behind Rozier. The most memorable moment of the night for Brown was his poster(?) over Joel Embiid. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a poster since Embiid technically blocked the ball into the basket, but damn did it look cool.
Jaylen will have better games for sure, but with this team, we’re going to have guys that’ll have quiet nights and have nights where they’ll show out. Jaylen didn’t “show out” tonight, but I’m confident he’s going to have an All-Star year.
Marcus Morris stepped up big time off the bench, putting up 16 points and 10 rebounds on 7-12 shooting. Without his scoring and hard-nosed style of play off the bench, this game would’ve been a lot closer than it was. He gave the Celtics’ bench the nickname “Bench With Attitude,” and he’s showing just why they’re called that.
Just enter Aron Baynes into the three-point contest already. I don’t want him to live and die by the three, but if he’s open, let it fly big fella. I’ll take 2-4 shooting from deep any day of the week.
Al Horford finished with game with five blocks. He’s coming for that Defensive Player of the Year award, or he just really hates the Sixers. Or it’s both. Yeah, probably both.
Now let’s talk about the man who was easily the best player on the court tonight: Jayson Tatum. I really have run out of words to describe how good he is. No, not good, but great. No, not great, but amazing. Seriously, the only thing holding Jayson Tatum back from being a certified NBA superstar is an injury. He has all the tools to be one of the best players in the league one day, and he showed them off tonight.
Finishing with 23 points and 9 rebounds, he put on a show for the Boston crowd. He will drop All-Defensive First Team players, take it to the basket and absolutely throw it down, and stare down your team’s best player after taking him 1-on-1.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Tatum is going to make a huge leap this season and show everybody why he’s being considered a star already. Right now, he’s the team’s number two guy, and it should stay that way. He’s too good not to be getting close to 20 shots a game and being the second option on offense. He will be an All-Star this season, and I expect him to consistently put up big numbers like he did tonight. If this game proves anything, we’re in for a hell of a year from Jayson.
I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome of this game. We beat our rivals, shut the mouths of Philly fans who can’t get over the C’s slapping them around in the playoffs without our two best players last year, and most importantly, started the season on a strong note. This year is going to be a fun one to follow. I predicted the C’s winning 63 games this season, and we’re already one down. I can’t wait for Friday to lock up win number two.
Oh, and Joel Embiid is the Celtics’ bitch. Sorry, I had to say it, but boy oh boy, is it true.
#TrustTheProcess #1-0 #RoadTo63