Boston Celtics

By Ty Anderson,

Celtics superstar Kyrie Irving started his night 0-for-8 from the field and finished with seven points on a 2-for-14 night. Gordon Hayward, playing in his first meaningful basketball game in 364 days after missing all but five minutes of last year due to a gruesome leg injury, was fighting through some obvious rust in what finished as a 10-point, 24-minute night.

Not even Jaylen Brown, who shouldered the scoring load in the absence of both Hayward (during the regular season) and Irving (in the postseason), could get his shot right before the fourth quarter of play in Boston’s season opener.

Still, the Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers by 18 points in a 105-87 final at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

This kind of equation certainly speaks to the depth a healthy Celtics squad will possess this season.

But also the superstar in waiting the Celtics have in second-year pro Jayson Tatum.

The C’s most dynamic scoring threat, the 20-year-old Tatum wasted no time making his presence felt, and finished the half as the Green’s lone double-digit scorer, with 13 points behind a 5-for-10 start from the field. By the end of the third, he pushed to a game-leading 20 points, and finished with a game-high 23 points (nine-for-17) to go with nine rebounds in 28 minutes.

When Tatum turned it on, what you had was a Philadelphia squad that simply did not have an answer for his game. Robert Covington was hopeless all night, and even Joel Embiid found himself victimized by Tatum’s offensive flair — and with some chatter and a wink thrown Embiid’s way from Tatum after a key make that truly put this game out of reach in the fourth.

Al Horford also delivered a gritty, playoff-like performance, with five blocks in 29 minutes.

The Celtics also got meaningful contributions from their bench, as Marcus Morris finished with 16 points in a 7-for-12 night shooting from the floor, and hauled in 10 rebounds by the night’s end. Third-string point guard (in name only) Terry Rozier, meanwhile, finished his night with 11 points, eight rebounds, and a Celtic-leading plus-22 in 26 minutes off the bench.

Up next: The Celtics will take their show to Toronto for a Friday night meeting with Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors. The Celtics split their four-game season series with the East-best Raptors a season ago.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 98.5 The Sports Hub. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.