The season is young, and there is plenty of basketball left to play, but this year’s Celtics team has fight. The Celtics lost the season opener in Philadelphia against the 76ers, but they have since won four straight games. While Boston is without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford this season, the Celtics have not struggled without them so far despite the loss to Philadelphia.
The home opener was against the defending champion Toronto Raptors on Oct. 25 was Boston’s first test at home on the Parquet. The Raptors lost superstar forward Kawhi Leonard in free agency this summer, and the question remains for how Toronto will make up for Leonard. Young forward Pascal Siakam appears to be their answer, scoring a game-high 33 points and staying ahead of Boston for most of the game.
However, forward Jayson Tatum lead the Celtics to a comeback win with key shooting and tight defense to make the TD Garden crowd erupt. New Celtic Kemba Walker drew a foul and turned to the Boston faithful and flex his muscles to say “I’m here and I am what you’ve been waiting for”. The energy in the stands made this first game feel like a playoff game, and the Celtics responded with an important win.
Following Toronto, the Celtics traveled to New York to play the new-look Knicks. The Celtics started slow once again, but rookie Grant Williams provided a spark for Boston with some great defensive play from the center spot in the absence of Enes Kanter (knee) and Daniel Theis (ankle sprain). Grant Williams and second year center Robert Williams expect large roles at the center position until coach Brad Stevens finds a definite starter. The Celtics took charge of the game in the third quarter, leading 7-6 rookie center Tacko Fall to make his NBA debut for Boston, receiving cheers from New York fans.
On Halloween Eve, the Celtics hosted 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, the team that knocked Boston from the NBA Playoffs back in May. Milwaukee resigned Kris Middleton and added a mix of veteran leadership, strengthening their claim as the favorite to emerge from the Eastern Conference. Trailing by as much as 19 points, the Celtics stormed back in the second half with the heroics of point guard Kemba Walker (32 points) to secure another impressive win. The well-rounded play on both ends of the floor from Gordon Hayward was and is a key for the team moving forward, and this was Hayward’s first game as a Celtic with 20+ points and at least 10+ rebounds. A pivotal moment in the game was when Jayson Tatum blocked Antetokounmpo at the rim and then hit a transition three-pointer down the court, earning a courtside high-five from Celtic legend Paul Pierce. It was another great night at the Garden as the Celtics have looked sharp early on.
Looking forward, the Celtics head out on a three-game road trip with stops in Cleveland, Charlotte, and San Antonio. The game is both Kemba Walker’s first game back in Charlotte, and former Celtics point guard Terry Rozier’s first game against his old team in a starting role. The early start gives reason for Celtics fans to feel hopeful.