The big story for the Boston Celtics going into the season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers was the return of superstars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. But the story coming out of the game was the continued strength of their young players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Brown had a nice game, scoring 12 points, dishing out a couple assists and hauling in five rebounds. But two of those 12 points made a bigger statement than the other 10 combined with his dunk on Philly big man Joel Embiid.
In the fourth quarter, with the Celtics sporting a 13-point lead (92-79), Brown took a pass on the run just above the three-point line and without slowing down drove the wide open lane towards the rim. Embiid was able to close the gap and rose up to contest the shot —which he did. In fact, Embiid got a couple hands on the ball.
But, it wasn't enough as Brown slammed the ball through Embiid's hands and it went off the backboard and in the basket as Embiid hit the deck — only to get back to his feet as Brown starred him down a little as he ran back on defense. Obviously, Brown hadn't planned it to be a "bank" dunk, but he when he left the ground he wasn't going to be denied!
The Celtics went on to beat the 76ers easily to the tune of 105-87. Brown's 12 points were third-most on the team behind 16 from Marcus Morris and the 23 from second-year star Tatum. Tatum made his name last year during the playoffs when the rookie led the team —without the injured Irving or Hayward—to a game seven against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. And it looks like he has picked up right where he left off.
Both Irving and Hayward looked a little rusty in their return. But that isn't anything the Celtics are worried about, as the two stars will probably need a little time to get their game legs under them — especially Hayward, who had been out for a full year after injuring himself in the first five minutes of the first game last season.