The simple math of continued dominance – C’s stop 76ers in season opener

On a night when Kyrie Irving seemed unable to shoot the ball into the ocean from the pier – unless the 2-for 14 performance was a non-verbal rebuttal regarding his Flat Earth inner debate – it was so fitting that the Bird-like “dagger” that invited the coaches to empty their benches Tuesday night at the Garden was delivered via a Gordon Hayward trey with a minute and a half to go.

The “fairy-tale” element was enhanced by the presence of Gordon’s parents (unborn third child, as well) for the occasion of his return to “real” play … and the ice-water in Gordon’s veins validated Coach Brad Stevens’s blue-print for player rotation in which his re-acclimating Butler Bulldog both opens and closes the game.

The Celtics dominated the “Vital Statistics” of play while easing their way to a 103 – 87 victory. They shot better (,433 - .391, overall), rebounded more effectively (55 [+9 team] – 47 [+11 team]), and took better care of the ball (14 – 16, turnovers). [It’s damn near impossible to lose a game when holding an advantage across that board.]

Although Brett Brown’s 76ers were +10 in free-throw attempts, Boston was +4 in conversions (48 – 44). But the games differential is to be found in the Striping – the impact of the three-point and foul lines. The C’s missed only four free throws while draining 11 treys, earning seven “stripes”; Philly misfired on 10 FT’s and connected on but five three-balls (on 26 tries, a measly .192), which produces a score of -5. That’s a swing of 12 points, on top of that four-conversion edge. Expectation: 20-point victory.

With the exception of FG shooting accuracy, there was a consistency to the Green Team’s performance from the first half to the second half.

1st Half                       2nd Half
19-52 (365)      FG      23-45 (.511)
4-16 (.250)      3FG      7-21 (.333)
5-7 (.714)        FT        5-7 (.714)
6-26 (.188)    (O)Reb    6-29 (.286)
6 (.098)      TO (Pct)      8 (.143)

Random Thoughts

Marcus Morris delivered a productive and under-control – especially with the refs lettin’ the boys play a bit -- 21 minutes of relief work, adding a team high 10 rebounds (two at the offensive end) to his 7-for-12 marksmanship. Let’s hope the control sustains, since his seem the most likely minutes to be lost to Hayward’s progress, wouldn’t ya think?

The C’s very first offensive possession of Q4 caught my eye. Following a pair of Joel Embiid FT’s, Brad’s “attack” had Irving as deep as he could possibly get in the left corner, and Jaylen Brown equally remote to the right. The alignment generated a deep three for JB.

I’m an advocate of enlarging the playing area – width as well as length – and would love to see what new wrinkles would be dreamed up by visionary coaches such as ours.

Brad’s second-teamers (plus Jason Tatum) produced a less than impressive close to Q1. A Terry Rozier break-out with just under three minutes to play provided a seven-point cushion and induced Coach Brown into a Time-out. Though the rattled Sixers mishandled their way to consecutive clumsy TO’s, the C’s countered with seven empty possessions – five one-and-dones and two TO’s – allowing the 76ers to get back to where they started.

Brad’s basketball brainiacs executed the “two-for-one” more efficiently in Q2 and Q3, scoring on their final try while leaving their foes to the mercy of the hoop gods.

Boston’s 3PAr following the intermission was .467 – 21 treys among 45 total FGA’s. The Celts shot an eye-popping .667 (16-for-24) from Two-Point-Land in those 24 minutes – exactly twice as well as they shot (7-21, .333) from behind the stripe.