BOSTON (AP) — A scandal off the court docket forged a shadow over the Boston Celtics coming into the preseason.
On the court docket, they opened the common season trying like a group nonetheless very a lot able to contending for a championship.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown every scored 35 factors and the Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 126-117 on Tuesday night time within the NBA’s season opener.
Malcolm Brogdon added 16 factors and Grant Williams completed with 15 because the defending Eastern Conference champions gave interim coach Joe Mazzulla a victory in his debut on an evening the group honored the legacy of Bill Russell.
“It was just unique and special,” Brown stated. “It feels a little bit better knowing who we were playing and who we were playing for.”
Mazzulla has been tasked with main the group after Ime Udoka was suspended for the season following an investigation by a legislation agency that discovered he dedicated a number of violations of group insurance policies.
Mazzulla efficiently led a Celtics group that very a lot resembled the one which made a shock run to the NBA Finals a season in the past.
“It was a proud moment,” Mazzulla stated. “I think at the end of the game, the ‘Let’s go Celtics! ‘chant — we picked up right where we left off. … When they’re cheering for you, you’re doing something right.”
Boston opened up a 110-97 lead with 8 minutes to play and by no means trailed once more.
James Harden scored 35 factors — his most since becoming a member of the 76ers final season — together with 12 of 12 from the free throw line. He additionally had 5 3-pointers.
“We gave them 20-plus points in transition,” Harden stated. “That’s the game right there.”
Joel Embiid added 26 factors and 15 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey completed with 21 factors.
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Mazzulla has vowed to maintain the give attention to constructing upon the tradition Udoka established on the court docket as a rookie head coach final season.
He insists that it is going to be carried out totally on the defensive finish of the ground, however the offense was the story for the Celtics on Tuesday with 56% capturing from the sector.
With huge man Robert Williams sidelined as he recovers from offseason surgical procedure on his knee, the Celtics caught with the identical beginning lineup they employed in the course of the preseason, enjoying defensive stalwart Derrick White alongside Marcus Smart, Tatum, Brown and Al Horford.
The smaller group sped Philadelphia up at occasions, forcing the 76ers into 14 turnovers for the sport, resulting in 22 Boston factors.
The 76ers want to take care of the highest groups within the East with Harden embarking on his first full season in Philadelphia after being swapped for Ben Simmons late final season in a commerce with Brooklyn.
Harden seemed rejuvenated coming off a season outlined by hamstring accidents that hampered his effectiveness in a truncated 21 common-season video games with the Sixers final season.
The 10-time All-Star annoyed the Celtics, displaying the mobility he was lacking a yr in the past. He was in a position to get to the free throw line usually. He additionally was efficient from the three-level line, connecting on 4 within the first half, together with a rainbow heave from the highest of the important thing to beat the shot clock late within the second quarter.
76ers: Were outrebounded 36-31. … Led 29-24 on the finish of the primary quarter, with Harden scoring 16 factors within the interval and going 8 of 8 from the free throw line.
Celtics: Outscored the 76ers 24-2 in quick-break factors. … Shot 71% within the second quarter with no turnovers. … Opened recreation on 9-2 run earlier than being outscored 27-15 the remainder of the quarter.
Tempers flared briefly within the third quarter when Smart took problem with Embiid holding onto his arm after which standing over him following a rebound. Smart acquired up and pushed Embiid, resulting in a short scrum between the groups.
Smart stated he felt Embiid tried to interrupt his arm.
Following a evaluate by referees, Smart was assessed each private and technical fouls.
“I could have cracked his head open, but I didn’t,” Smart stated.
Said Embiid: ““It’s basketball. Emotions. The first game of the season. Rivalry, Boston-Philly.”
The Celtics held the primary of two deliberate ceremonies this season to commemorate the life and legacy of Bill Russell, who he died July 31 at age 88.
There have been video tributes highlighting a few of Russell’s largest moments on and off the court docket.
The group additionally wore No. 6 patches on its particular version jerseys. The uniforms included 11 gold diamonds down the edges, signifying the 11 championships Russell helped carry Boston throughout his profession.
His widow, Jeannine Russell, sat courtside and tearfully acknowledged a standing ovation from followers throughout a timeout within the third quarter.
76ers: Host Milwaukee on Thursday.
Celtics: Open a 3-recreation highway journey Friday at Miami.