Celtics 126, 76ers 117
Warriors 123, Lakers 109
What went down
The NBA is back!
But it seems like the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics didn’t go anywhere. Last year’s finalists didn’t skip a beat, kicking off the new season with big wins over conference rivals.
The first game of the season featured what many see as two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics hosted Joel Embiid, James Harden, and the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers.
There were a lot of questions surrounding the Celtics coming into this game, as they were still reeling from the season-long suspension of their head coach, Ime Udoka. In the first half of the game, it seemed as if Boston was still finding their form. Their vaunted defense allowed James Harden to cook, and because of that, the Sixers were able to keep things close against the top team in the East last year.
The Celtics erased all doubts in the second half. Led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (more on this later), Boston took a double-digit lead heading into the fourth period and held off the Sixers to get their first win comfortably.
In the second game of the opening day double-header, the defending champs faced off against the LA Lakers. While the Lakers were out to play the spoilers during Ring Night, the Warriors made quick work of the Lakers.
Ring ceremony energy. pic.twitter.com/1rTLux51Jv— Basketball Forever (@Bballforeverfb) October 19, 2022
Playing their young guys heavy minutes, Golden State went on their patented third quarter barrage to build a lead as high as 27 points. The Lakers tried to make things “interesting” in the fourth quarter but they just didn’t have the firepower to match the Warriors. Steph Curry was in Finals MVP form, finishing with 33 points, seven assists, and four steals to lead his team. Andrew Wiggins had 20 points, while Klay Thompson added 18.
As good as the Warriors were, the Lakers also shot themselves in the foot in this game. They shot 25 percent from beyond the arc and turned the ball over 21 times. At one point in the game, the Lakers only had two madee three-pointers in 20 tries.
When talking about the best duos in the league, the Splash Brothers are top of mind. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are another. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving or LeBron James and Anthony Davis are in the conversation as well.
Often forgotten is the combo of Tatum and Brown. Tonight, the two reminded the rest of the league why they’re a force to be reckoned with. They combined for 70 points, scoring 35 points each in the win over the Sixers.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the first pair of teammates to each score 35+ points in a season opener since Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West did it for the Lakers in 1969. pic.twitter.com/tBaDKjtepS— NBA History (@NBAHistory) October 19, 2022
They also did it so easily. Brown shot 58 percent from the field, while Tatum got his points on 65 percent shooting. The two didn’t even hit the long ball particularly well. This just goes to show that when things are clicking for these two, the Celtics are nearly unstoppable.
Did you see that?
Today, Harden had the chance to recreate this play.
In the middle of a scorching first half, Harden “shook off” Marcus Smart (actually, Smart shook himself off with a midseason-level flop), and was wide open for a 3-pointer. He shimmied, got a good look at the hoop and...
The Harden shimmy, the brick, the Marcus Smart flop...— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 19, 2022
NBA is back 🤣 pic.twitter.com/eV2DucHcI9
…hit nearly nothing.
In a game filled with some throwback Harden highlights, that’s probably the one play everyone will remember from this game.
What he said
Charles Barkely is one of the latest defenders of Russell Westbrook. First it was former-rival-turned-bestie Patrick Beverley who spoke up to defend Russ. Then Kevin Durant backed up his former point guard. In today’s game, Barkley took time to speak up about Westbrook and his situation in LA.
“They are taking his entire joy out of basketball,” he said during TNT’s halftime segment.
Chuck thinks the Lakers should trade Russ already 😳 pic.twitter.com/GX2tQ44tgp— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 19, 2022
To be fair to Barkley (and Beverley and Durant), Westbrook wasn’t a huge problem in today’s game. He scored 19 points, grabbed 11 boards, and hit 58 percent of his shots. Maybe he still does have a lot left in the tank and Barkely is right. He just needs a fresh start in a new situation.