PHILADELPHIA -- When discussing Wednesday night's season-opener, Celtics coach Brad Stevens framed it as part of the information-gathering process that will be a season-long endeavor for the Celtics.
Well, Game 1 is in the books, ending with a 107-93 loss to Philly.
There were a number of lessons, some good and some not-so-good, to take away from the opener.
Here are three takeaways that stood out that should provide the Celtics with a little more intel about who they are - and who they are not - as they return home to face defending NBA champion Toronto on Friday night at the TD Garden.
Defend without fouling: As the Celtics will attest to, it’s a lot easier said than done. The Sixers spent the majority of the first half in the bonus, resulting in a decisive 23-13 edge in free-throw attempts. But more than the free-throw discrepancy, all those free-throw attempts resulted in a number of Celtics playing most of the game in foul trouble, which had a clear impact on their level of aggressiveness. Doing a better job in better limiting the number of fouls committed will go far on Friday in the home opener against Toronto.
Gordon Hayward: Lots of questions about whether he’s back or close to being All-Star Gordon Hayward. Wednesday was certainly a positive step with Hayward attacking the rim and finishing with contact, as well as knocking down a few jumpers. Hayward had his struggles defensively, but overall he had a solid season debut with a game-high 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting to go with five rebounds. But like most of the Celtics, consistency is the key to Hayward’s comeback. The Celtics will need to see more of the same going forward.
Bench play: The Celtics’ second unit had to be the more impactful group for Boston to get the road win. Aside from a couple of Marcus Smart-like plays like creating turnovers drawing charges, that impact was non-existent. They don’t have to score - it would help, but not an absolute necessity - but they have to do better than scoring a total of 15 points, especially on a night when most of the starters were in early foul trouble. Second unit success will be worth keeping an eye on Friday night.
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