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.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

1:24 - A. Sherrod Blakely, Brain Scalabrine and Kyle Draper break down the Celtics' selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and are joined by the man who made the pick himself, Danny Ainge.

7:49 - The Nets and Dwight Howard have begun buyout talks, which means the veteran center could soon be a free agent. Michael Holley, Danielle Trotta and Luke Bonner debate if Howard would be a good fit in Boston.

11:59 - Brad Stevens fields questions from the media immediately following the Celtics selection of Williams.



Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

BOSTON – Danny Ainge went through his customary routine of making calls up and down the draft, looking for any and every opportunity to make a deal that would strengthen the Boston Celtics roster. 

And while he was open to getting a deal done and move away from the team’s late first-round pick, Ainge said he went into Thursday night’s draft intent on standing pat with the 27th overall pick that was used to select Robert Williams.

The past few weeks were spent by Ainge and his front office staff examining what the price would be for them to move up in the draft. 

That price proved to be too steep for Ainge’s liking. 

His assessment afterward?

“We were preparing for the 27th pick,” Ainge said. “We were preparing for opportunities to move up; not all the way to the top of the draft but somewhere in the middle and we were preparing for guys we didn’t like, and move back in the draft. It’s the same thing we do every year, prepare for any situation that comes up.”

But this draft felt different, in part because the Celtics were beginning further back than recent years in which includes Boston having the No. 3 overall pick in back-to-back drafts. 

And just like Boston seemed to get great value out of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the last two drafts, they are hoping for continued draft success in adding Williams who at one point was considered a player with lottery (top-14) pick talent. 

“Robert will have opportunities to play, but that will depend on how well he plays, what he does,” Ainge said.

Williams’ head coach Billy Kennedy echoed similar sentiments.

“He’s a special talent,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy told Boston Sports Tonight. “He can do things some of the other guys in the draft can’t do.”

Which made staying patient and not aggressively trying to move up in the draft, a worthwhile decision for Ainge in Boston landing a player that they did not go into the draft anticipating would be available to them if they stood pat with the 27th overall pick.