May 18, 2024

Celtics

Porzingis set a Celtics file, whereas Tatum appears prepared for an additional big season.

Jayson Tatum and the Celtics opened their season in opposition to the Knicks on Wednesday. Picture by Elsa/Getty Photos

COMMENTARY

The Celtics performed properly early and late of their season opener in opposition to the Knicks on Wednesday, which was ok to beat an enormous lapse and declare a 110-106 victory.

Listed here are the takeaways.

1. Actually, there have been wrinkles the Celtics might want to clean out, and we’ll get to them. However there have been three enormously optimistic takeaways for the Celtics, and consistent with the beginning of a brand new 12 months, we’ll begin there.

The primary was Jayson Tatum. After all the coaching camp buzz about new faces and new vibes across the group, the Celtics had been led by their acquainted MVP candidate, who scored 34 factors in all kinds of how. He began by bully-balling Quentin Grimes into the paint for a basket. He buried two of his patented step-back 3-pointers. He knocked down robust jumpers that bailed the Celtics out of otherwise-doomed possessions. He grabbed 11 rebounds on an evening when the Celtics desperately wanted rebounds, and he jump-started possessions along with his ball motion when the Knicks began double-teaming him.

The Celtics can play far more cohesively than they did on Wednesday, and they’ll want to take action to perform what they hope to perform this season. However on the nights after they don’t, they nonetheless have a no-questions-asked celebrity who can shoulder numerous the burden.

2. The second optimistic was Kristaps Porzingis, who set a Celtics file by scoring 30 factors in his common season debut. Porzingis poured in 15 within the first quarter, and he hit the largest shot of the sport with below two minutes remaining after a well-executed pick-and-pop with Tatum.

Porzingis completed 8-for-15 from the ground and 5-for-9 from 3-point vary. Defensively, he intimidated the Knicks across the rim (particularly early) and completed with 4 blocked pictures, though the Celtics do want to determine a greater resolution for guards who can shoot pick-and-roll 3-pointers off the dribble, since Immanuel Quickley burned them repeatedly as soon as once more.

Nonetheless, all in all, Porzingis’ debut was unquestionably a hit. His presence makes the Celtics’ offense considerably extra dynamic.

3. As an apart, Porzingis confronted a hostile Knicks crowd that booed him enthusiastically and serenaded him with “F— Porzingis” chants after he caught Isaiah Hartenstein with an errant elbow within the fourth quarter. That elbow earned Porzingis his second technical of the sport, however he wasn’t ejected as a result of his first technical got here courtesy of a flop. Knicks guard Jalen Brunson was additionally handed a technical for flopping, which was one thing of a doubtful name, since Brunson landed on Jaylen Brown’s foot.

In any case, it appears officers are going to make flopping technicals a degree of emphasis within the early going this season. Count on to see loads of them whistled as gamers attempt to re-train themselves on the fly.

4. The third optimistic for the Celtics was the opposite main newcomer Jrue Vacation, who began the sport on Julius Randle and bothered the Knicks’ burly star into numerous dangerous pictures. Vacation may be very sturdy, and his fast arms flip numerous potential reach-in fouls into clear swipes and strips.

Vacation’s debut was quiet offensively compared to Porzingis, however he completed with 9 factors and three blocks, and the Celtics have loads of cause to be inspired by what he delivered to the desk. His protection is almost as particular because the guard he changed.

(If anybody was questioning, Marcus Good scored 17 factors on 6-for-11 capturing in his Memphis debut because the Grizzlies fell to the Pelicans).

5. Now, a few the aforementioned wrinkles.

The Knicks completed with 17 complete offensive rebounds, and several other of them had been pricey. At one level within the second quarter, each Luke Kornet and Porzingis had place for a rebound, and the Celtics didn’t safe it, which led to a 3-pointer by Immanuel Quickley. Within the third quarter, after Julius Randle received an and-one however missed the free throw, the Knicks tracked down the board once more, and the Celtics gave up a 3-pointer to Quentin Grimes. That sequence was a part of a 10-0 run by the Knicks that trimmed the Celtics’ lead down to at least one.

The Celtics don’t have bigs who’ve traditionally pulled down numerous rebounds, however they should be higher than they had been on Wednesday.

6. The Knicks aren’t a very sturdy 3-point capturing group, however they shot 43.9 p.c from deep and received numerous actually attractiveness. The Celtics don’t swap as a lot as they used to (out of necessity, since Porzingis isn’t a switchable large man), and the Knicks discovered it comparatively straightforward to search out attractiveness because of this.

The Celtics have the defensive personnel to make it very troublesome for opposing groups to attain within the paint, however in 2023, a profitable protection can’t give up that many open appears.

7. The Celtics gained’t discover it straightforward to win many video games when Jaylen Brown, Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard go a mixed 0-for-11 from deep, though it speaks to their improved depth that they floor out Wednesday’s victory regardless of their 30.8 efficiency from three as as group.

Brown specifically had a disappointing night time. He completed with 11 factors on 4-for-11 capturing, however his worst sequence got here within the fourth quarter when the Knicks threatened to tug away — he turned the ball over attempting to string a needle that wasn’t there (the Knicks received a 3-pointer), turned over an inbounds move to no person, after which fouled Quentin Grimes on a 3-pointer (Grimes made it and received a four-point play).

Brown had some good moments and led the group in assists with 5, however the Celtics will want him to be loads higher going ahead.

8. Issues received chippy within the third quarter when Isaiah Hartenstein fouled Jaylen Brown onerous on a dunk try. The foul seemed like a transparent flagrant, as Hartenstein wrapped Brown up and made no play on the ball, and Brown took exception, turning shortly to Hartenstein as each gamers briefly yapped at one another earlier than they had been separated. Officers, nonetheless, handed Brown and Hartenstein offsetting technical fouls and whistled Hartenstein for a tough foul, which despatched Brown to the road for 2. 

9. For all of the grief Joe Mazzulla received final 12 months about timeouts, he used two at an opportune time within the closing minute for the Celtics. Nursing a two-point lead with 20 seconds remaining, Mazzulla known as for a fast one when Tatum received himself right into a troublesome state of affairs that almost handed the ball again to the Knicks. Then, because the Celtics solely had three seconds left to get the ball throughout half courtroom, Mazzulla burned his closing one to advance the ball and avert a possible catastrophe. That allowed the Celtics to inbound the ball to Payton Pritchard, who knocked down a pair of clutch free throws and pushed the Celtics’ result in 4 with 10.7 seconds remaining.

10. The Celtics may have rising pains as they develop chemistry, and that confirmed on Wednesday. However in addition they have a ton of expertise and potential, and — after a gritty efficiency — a 1-0 file. Subsequent up? The Warmth on Friday, whose victory within the Japanese Convention Finals began the Celtics’ offseason upheaval.

Friday’s sport ideas off at 7:30 p.m.