Celtics wear down 76ers, win 105-87 on Opening Night

The Boston Celtics opened the season with a 105-87 win over the Eastern Conference rival Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. After a long offseason and a summer full of daydreaming about the upcoming season, the Celtics did not disappoint in game one of the 2018 NBA season.

Jayson Tatum led the C's with 23 points and reassured everyone that the aura around him was not a fluke. Marcus Morris added 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, and Al Horford had an efficient night from all areas of the floor with nine points on 4-7 shooting with some stellar defense, including five blocks. Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Ben Simmons finished with a near tripe-double (19,15,8). The depth of Boston outlasted the stars in Philly, and the Celtics were able to pull away late in the game.

The anticipation of Opening Night was certainly evident at the start of the game. The Celtics missed multiple point-blank layups and seemed to get caught up in the hype of the beginning of a new campaign. Luckily, the 76ers were equally as sloppy, and were unable to open up a substantial lead. A 15-3 run in the middle of the first quarter got the C's on track on the offensive end. Tatum shook his preseason shooting woes by exploding for nine points in the first six minutes of the game. Horford made his presence known on the defensive end with three blocks, two of which were against Embiid. A 7-0 run for Philly turned the tides at the end of the first, and the game was tied at 21-21 going into the second frame.

Gordon Hayward canned two jump shots after the commercial break, a welcome sight to every human being in the Boston area. A hustle rebound from Aron Baynes led to a Marcus Smart three and the Celtics started the second quarter on a 7-0 run. The two teams traded buckets and highlight moments for the rest of the quarter. Terry Rozier tomahawked Embiids shot all the way to the Earth's core, Simmons went coast-to-coast for a hammer dunk, and Markelle Fultz shot a basketball in a way that didn't make small children cry. The Celtics went into the halftime with a 47-42 lead, while also getting zero points from Kyrie Irving.

The defense seemed to right itself after a dismal preseason showing. Boston stifled the Philly offense in the half court and really made them struggle from beyond the arc (2-12, 16.7 percent). They also forced 11 first half turnovers. The C's offense wasn't efficient, just 36 percent from the field, but the defense allowed them the time to take the lead.

Brad Stevens shook up his starting group in the second half.

Baynes started the third quarter in place of Hayward, and promptly hit a three-point shot from above the break. A 14-5 run to start the second half opened up the first double-digit lead of the night for the C's. While stars like Kyrie and Hayward were struggling from the field, the depth of the Celtics set them apart. The 76ers are a top-heavy team, and outside of their top-6 (if you want to count Fultz), they can't do much. A 10-0 Philly run cut the lead to four, but Tatum stemmed the tide with an and-1 euro-step layup halfway through the third quarter. Morris worked his way to eight points in the third quarter and helped secure an 11-point advantage heading into the final quarter.

After starting the game on a rough stretch, Jaylen Brown found his footing with five points to start the fourth quarter. The Celtics imposed their will throughout the rest of the game, thanks in part to hustle plays and knock down shooting from Baynes. The 76ers were able to cut into the lead, but could never get over the hump.

Boston's next game will be on Friday, when they travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors.

Follow Connor Casey on Twitter @Connor_Casey5
Photo via Boston Celtics/Twitter