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Kristaps Porzingis, Payton Pritchard shine as Celtics beat 76ers in preseason opener: 10 takeaways


The Celtics confirmed loads of promise of their preseason opener.

Kristaps Porzingis made his Celtics preseason debut Sunday in opposition to the 76ers. AP Picture/Mary Schwalm

The brand new-look Celtics opened their preseason slate Sunday in opposition to the 76ers with a spirited 114-106 victory.

Listed here are the takeaways.

1. Kristaps Porzingis was as marketed offensively — an intriguing mix of floor-spacing and flexibility at an absurd peak. He buried the primary field-goal try of the sport from 24 ft out, dropped Danuel Home Jr. to the ground with a jab-and-go that led to a giant two-handed slam, and threw down this lob from Derrick White all within the first quarter.

Defensively, the Celtics might want to work by way of some points along with his drop protection, which allowed Tyrese Maxey to interrupt free for a few open 3-point makes an attempt out of the pick-and-roll, and Joe Mazzulla referred to as for Porzingis to be extra of a rebounder postgame (Porzingis completed with 5 in 25 minutes).

However Porzingis made the Sixers take into consideration any shot across the rim, and his early returns are very promising for the Celtics’ offense, which now has plenty of attention-grabbing new seems and a 3rd scorer who can punish opposing defenses.

2. The Celtics introduced Jrue Vacation off the bench in favor of a beginning lineup with Porzingis, Al Horford and White, and whereas Mazzulla brushed the choice away postgame — noting that the preseason as an entire is an experiment — it made for an attention-grabbing dynamic.

Vacation shot poorly, ending 2-for-10 from the sphere, however he did knock down a step-back 3-pointer, and he ripped away a pair of steals. The massive takeaway was that he didn’t look significantly snug but, however that’s hardly sudden provided that lower than two weeks in the past, he was nonetheless a resident of Wisconsin. Vacation has loads of alternatives to get acclimated to his new teammates earlier than the regular-season opener on Oct. 25.

3. Payton Pritchard had a memorable day. Previous to the sport, information broke that he and the Celtics agreed to a four-year, $30 million extension — a team-friendly deal that also makes positive Pritchard will likely be very snug for the foreseeable future. After a tricky yr final season, Pritchard — who requested a commerce hoping for extra taking part in time — ought to now discover himself squarely within the Celtics’ rotation with loads of alternatives to show himself.

He bought off to an awesome begin on Sunday. Pritchard scored 16 of his 26 factors within the second half because the Celtics pulled away late, and TD Backyard bought regular-season loud on a number of events — significantly after his dagger step-back triple with lower than a minute remaining.

4. To briefly rain on what was in any other case a superbly cheap night, the Celtics do seem like a workforce that would battle on the glass, which was to be anticipated. Neither Porzingis nor Horford has ever been a very high-level rebounder, and the Celtics have plenty of Derrick White-Vacation-Jaylen Brown seems that may depart them fairly small. Placing an finish to possessions will must be some extent of emphasis transferring ahead.

5. Each Brown and Jayson Tatum began sluggish, and Tatum specifically struggled to seek out his vary — 3-for-13 from the ground, 0-for-4 from three. In typical Tatum trend, he did nonetheless fill out the field rating with 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

Brown, in the meantime, broke out with 9 of his 17 factors within the third quarter, together with a 3-pointer earlier than the starters have been eliminated that secured a win for the Celtics’ primary unit.

Regardless of further star energy Brad Stevens added this offseason, most Celtics video games this season will revolve round Tatum and Brown. Sunday’s sport was a uncommon exception.

6. We will’t make sure precisely how all of Tatum’s new muscle will have an effect on his offense (is he attempting to be Giannis Antetokounmpo with a extra superior bag now? Will the majority harm his beforehand silky jumper? Can he common nine-plus free throws per sport?), however two performs early within the second quarter have been a constructive signal.

The primary was a post-up in opposition to Kelly Oubre Jr., who has usually struggled in opposition to Tatum up to now however has no likelihood defensively in opposition to this new iteration. Tatum backed Oubre down aggressively, and a number of Sixers defenders meandered over to assist. Pritchard floated to open area in Tatum’s visual field and was rewarded with an open three for his consciousness.

A couple of minute later, Tatum labored his method into the lane, missed two makes an attempt shut the rim, then grabbed a 3rd alternative and completed it off. The Celtics need him to play bodily, and regardless of the taking pictures numbers, he was forceful on Sunday.

7. The Sixers have been very excessive on Maxey for years, and on Sunday, he seemed greater than able to step up because the workforce’s second-best participant behind Joel Embiid (who didn’t play). Maxey completed with 24 factors in 29 minutes and displayed improved management over his appreciable pace and tempo.

Given how good Maxey seemed (and, to a lesser extent, the constructive contributions of gamers like Jaden Springer, who had a number of good moments together with a nasty block in opposition to Tatum), it’s onerous to think about the entrance workplace will permit the James Harden drama to proceed for much longer. The Sixers have high quality gamers who look prepared for larger roles now and buying and selling a distraction like Harden could possibly be addition each by addition and subtraction.

8. Like most preseason openers, the fourth quarter was bereft of starters. It was, nonetheless, very dramatic and a number of enjoyable. The Celtics received the interval 33-26 and completed it on a 17-5 run during the last 5:22 as Pritchard exploded.

However Pritchard wasn’t alone in his heroics. Dalano Banton hit a 3 and performed onerous. Oshae Brissett completed with seven factors on 3-for-6 taking pictures, and each Brissett and Lamar Stevens each crushed put-back slams that introduced the gang to their ft. Stevens’ slam counted (and he was awarded a free throw), however Brissett was (accurately) whistled for a foul. Joe Mazzulla made a veteran determination to problem the decision on Brissett’s behalf, despite the fact that the decision was unlikely to be overturned.

The Nov. 8 showdown between these two groups, in fact, carries considerably extra weight than a preseason opener sans Joel Embiid. However Sunday’s sport crackled with the sort of vitality that would ship New England followers out into the night time with a small smile regardless of the rest which will or might not have occurred earlier within the day.

9. Filed beneath “it’s preseason even for the celebrities,” Brown appeared to come back out for the primary quarter with his shorts on backward.

10. NBC Sports activities Boston launched new play-by-play announcer Drew Carter, who will take over Mike Gorman’s on-the-road duties this season and his full-time duties subsequent yr. Carter has a unbelievable play-by-play voice and a assured air, and watching how he builds chemistry with Brian Scalabrine will likely be an attention-grabbing aspect mission this season.

We want Carter the perfect of luck. Changing Mike Gorman is a activity taller than Porzingis.