On Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics lost a hard-fought matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, 102-99, in the NBA season opener.
Unfortunately for the Celtics the real loss on the night came just six minutes into the game when All-Star forward Gordon Hayward landed awkwardly after an alley-oop attempt and fractured his ankle.
Without their star forward for the majority of the game – and likely the majority of the season – the Celtics could have gotten their doors blown off by the Cavs. Instead, they overcame an 18-point deficit in the second half and displayed grittiness and outscored the Cavs 61-48 in third and fourth quarters.
Here are ThisWeekinWorcester.com’s 5 Takeaways from Boston’s first game of the season:
#1 – Kyrie Irving is a legitimate superstar – Irving put a double-double with 22 points and ten assists and for a few moments in the second half he looked like he couldn’t miss. At one point he hit an off balance three-pointer that illustrated his uncanny ability to score.
#2 – Jaylen Brown has superstar potential – Brown exploded to the rim all night and ultimately found his shot in the second half. He led Boston in scoring with 25 points and even added six rebounds. He looked like he belonged out theere.
#3 – Al Horford is a Team Leader – We don’t know where this guy came from, but as soon as Hayward went down, Horford seemed to take the lead when he was on the floor. Horford’s intensity level was something we didn’t see much of last year and although he only had nine points and seven rebounds, his role as floor leader likely played a bigger role in the Celtics comeback.
#4 – This team is tougher and quicker than the Cavs – Early on in the game, it looked as if the Celtics and Cavs were matching each other up and down the court. But in the second half the Celtics got to the rim, and played tough defense (11 steals, 4 blocks). The C’s never took their foot off the gas.
#5 – Barring a speedy recovery, the Celtics will have to quickly learn how to play without Hayward and Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum will have to step up. Note: Tatum impressed with a double-double in his first NBA game (14 points, 10 rebounds)