Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON – The scouting report on Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor was that he could score the ball around the basket in a variety of ways.

The Boston Celtics learned this the hard way as Okafor showed few signs of first game jitters against the Celtics who pulled away for a 112-95 win.

Okafor, playing in his first regular season NBA game after being selected by the Sixers with the No. 3 pick in last June’s draft, had 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting to go with seven rebounds and two blocked shots.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown has been pleased with what he has seen skill-wise from Okafor throughout training camp.

But in Okafor’s first regular season game, Brown was even more impressed with the rookie.

“He has capabilities beyond what I thought,” Brown said. “We consider him to be a low-post, force-type player and he can shoot a 16-footer; he can put it to the floor and make moves facing up. He can score. He’s got an instinct for scoring, just in more versatile ways than I originally expected.”

Okafor could not have scripted a better start to the game. He wasn’t just scoring, but scoring without missing a shot.

He began the game going 5-for-5 from the field.

“That definitely got me in a good rhythm and a good flow,” Okafor said. “That didn’t hurt.”

But the Celtics soon adapted their game plan on dealing with Okafor, mixing in double teams just to try and get the ball out of his hands or force him to take a contested shot.

 

“I know Okafor’s really good,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “But I thought that we would mix that (double-teaming) in later in the game. But we went small one (point guard) through four (power forward) and doubled him quite a bit with Jonas (Jerebko) and Jae (Crowder).”

Okafor still gave Boston fits offensively, but the changes defensively led to a slew of turnovers by the rookie – he finished with a game-high eight turnovers – which factored in Boston getting 34 points off of Philadelphia’s 24 turnovers.

“Still just trying to get comfortable,” Okafor said afterwards. “That was my goal going into the game; First NBA game, just trying to get comfortable as a team as well.”