Celtics

Irving scores 21, Celtics pull away in second half to beat Sixers, 110-102

Irving scores 21, Celtics pull away in second half to beat Sixers, 110-102

The starting five was new, but the end result – a Boston Celtics win – is the same as it ever was, with the C's pulling away in the second half for a 110-102 win over Philadelphia.

The Celtics (2-0) continue to look at different combinations to see what works best and which combinations still need work.

Boston began Friday night’s game at Philadelphia with a starting five that included the Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, which was joined by Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.

Irving led the way with 21 points to lead five double-figure scorers for the Celtics.

Meanwhile, the Sixers (0-2) were led by a pair of former Celtics in Jaryd Bayless (15 points) and Amir Johnson (12 points, five rebounds).

Philadelphia came within 105-99 with 2:35 to play, but Boston managed to hold on for the win.

As much as the Celtics wanted the win, more important was the continued growth of their young team with several players still working their way into defining their role for this upcoming season.

Among those young players was Tatum who made his first three shots before finishing with 7 points. Not only was he making shots, but he played with a presence at both ends of the floor.

The same can be said for Marcus Smart who had yet another strong game at both ends of the floor for the Celtics before finishing with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

As for Philly, they very much remain a work in progress, especially with their best player Joel Embiid, still sidelined. He went through 5-on-5 work on Thursday, the first time he has done that since undergoing season-ending surgery on his left knee in March.

He is making progress and there’s a chance that he will be in the Sixers lineup when these two meet again in Boston on Monday.

But the Sixers do have Ben Simmons back.

The former No. 1 overall pick had eight points and five assists, but he also turned the ball over five times.

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The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

The solution for Celtics? Play better down the stretch

BOSTON – If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Brad Stevens in his time as Celtics coach, it’s that he’s not about that sugarcoating life.
 
When it comes to his team, he’s about as transparent a coach as you will find in the NBA.

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So, when he says his team has been outplayed in both of its first two games, he’s not doing it as some stealth rallying cry.
 
He’s doing it because it’s where they are at this moment.
 
“So, whatever that’s attributable to, we’ve got to fix it, we’ve got to be better at it, regardless of when it is,” Stevens said.
 
Boston will get another crack at it on Friday night against a Philadelphia squad that, like the Celtics, is also searching for its first win of the season.
 
Struggling to win games is something the Sixers have grown accustomed to in recent years.
 
But the Celtics have been on an upward trajectory every year under Stevens’ watch. And while it’s far too soon to panic over their start, players understand that change must come about soon if they are to get on the right track and have the kind of season they envision for themselves as a group.
 
“Brad’s right, we have a lot of plays to clean up and a lot of stuff to get better at, but that’s’ the beauty of it,” said Jaylen Brown. “We got a really good group and a lot of young guys – we’re going to move forward and take that challenge. We’re going to win some games; we’re going to win a lot of games here in Boston.”
 
But doing so won’t be easy, not with the Celtics still trying to find the best way to move forward following Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that may keep him out for the remainder of this season.
 
The Celtics have led in the fourth quarter of both losses before eventually failing to make the necessary plays down the stretch to ensure victory.
 
Some of that has to do with the unfamiliarity - not a surprise when you add 10 new players to the mix in one offseason. Another contributing factor is, because of injuries, there are players elevated to more prominent roles who were otherwise seen as simply depth additions at the end of the bench.
 
Whatever the reasons may be, the bottom line is clear: the Celtics have played two games where they were outplayed enough to lose. 
 
“I don’t want to make the excuse that we’re a young team, but we are,” said Kyrie Irving. “We have some experience here and we have to utilize that and continue to exude confidence in young guys and ourselves and understand the game comes in waves. There are going to be ups and downs. We have to be able to withstand other team’s runs as well as hit back and have that hit-first mentality in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter. Once we start understanding we have to put a complete game together, myself being at the head of the ball and being better with it and putting guys in the right spots, we’ll be fine.”

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Agent says Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season

Hopes that the Celtics would have Gordon Hayward back in the lineup later this year were dashed last night by Hayward's agent, Mark Bartelstein.

Hayward underwent surgery Wednesday night for a fractured and dislocated left tibia, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens had said earlier in the day that Hayward's prognosis would be better known after doctors saw the extent of the damage. When the operation was over, Bartelstein told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski not to expect Hayward to play again this season.

But there is good news:

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“We’re expecting this to be a full recovery,” Stevens had said earlier. “No timeline on it, but a full recovery.”

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