The NBA is back!
The 2022-23 season tips off with a doubleheader. First up, the Boston Celticsdefeated thePhiladelphia 76ersin an early clash of Eastern Conference contenders. The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who scored 35 points each in the win.
Out West, the defending champion Golden State Warriorsreceived their rings after winning their fourth title in the past eight seasons. Looking to spoil the celebration will be the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James, who begins the season needing 1,326 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's career scoring leader.
We'll have complete coverage from Boston and San Francisco with highlights, takeaways and the moments that matter all night long.
Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors
The Warriors enter the season looking to become the NBA's first back-to-back champion since ... the Warriors. Golden State pulled off the feat in 2017 and 2018, back when Kevin Durant was starring in the Bay Area. Now it's Andrew Wiggins who is teaming with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and Wiggins just signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Warriors through the 2026-27. What that extension -- and another four-year deal for Jordan Poole -- means for Green remains to be seen. Green made headlines this preseason when he punched Poole during practice, and is still waiting on a contract extension of his own.
While the Warriors were the last team standing last season, the Lakers failed to even make the postseason for the second time in four years with LeBron James on the roster. James enters this season not only trying to return to the playoffs, but looking to break the NBA's all-time points record. He'll once again partner with Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, the latter of whom spent the entire offseason in trade rumors and came off the bench in his final preseason appearance -- something he hasn't done in a regular-season game since his rookie season.
Warriors get their hardware
Stephen Curry stood to the side, emphatically cheering as he watched each of his teammates receive their rings. As he walked toward center court to collect his, MVP chants broke out throughout Chase Center.
"Hold up," Curry told them. "We have some other work to do before that."
"This is a very special night," he added. "From Game 6 in 2019 in Oracle to Game 6 of 2022, it's been a very long journey."
Curry also took a moment to wish Brittney Griner -- a WNBA player for the Phoenix Mercury -- a happy birthday. Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia for eight months.
Following the presentation of the rings -- a 16-carat, yellow diamond ring -- a video from 2010 of owner Joe Lacob saying the Warriors needed more banners played on the jumbotron.
Drake's "Big Rings" blared from the speakers as their seventh championship banner -- their fourth in the past eight years -- was raised.
-- Kendra Andrews
James Wiseman nervous before NBA return
Warriors big man James Wiseman -- who hasn't played a regular-season game since April 10, 2021 -- told ESPN before Tuesday's game that he was excited for ring night, but also had butterflies. When asked if it was for ring night or because it was the first season opener he would be playing in since his rookie year in 2020, Wiseman said it was a little bit of both.
To calm his nerves, he said he was planning on turning some music on and hopping in the steam room.
-- Kendra Andrews
Russell Westbrook to start for Lakers
Not 1, not 2, not 3...
We think of the Warriors winning four rings in the Steph Curry era, but the franchise has leaned into their total titles in new signage around the Chase Center. Golden State now has seven -- one more than all those chips theChicago Bullscollected with Michael Jordan.
-- Dave McMenamin
Draymond arrives in style
LeBron evokes draft day look with Year 20 arrival
JTA will get his ring, but Walker won't be watching
Boston Celtics 126, Philadelphia 76ers 117
Horford stepping up on defense
Through three quarters, Al Horford is plus-12 in 18 minutes played even though he's only 1-for-4 from the field for 3 points. I don't think it's a passive effect. Horford has made his impact on this game with defense. While Marcus Smart was the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year last season, it was Horford (third in NBA) and Robert Williams III (11th) who had the highest Defensive Real Plus Minus (DRPM) scores on the team.
The Celtics' defense is built inside-out, and with Williams sidelined, Horford is necessary at defensive anchor. When Horford was called for his second foul on a Harden 3-pointer in the first quarter, it touched off a 9-0 run for the previously cold 76ers. Early in the second quarter, with Horford back in the game, the Celtics went on an 8-0 run to re-take the lead.
-- Andre Snellings
Celtics running wild on break
Through three quarters, the Celtics hold a commanding 22-2 edge in fast-break points. Boston has made an effort to get out and run at every opportunity, and has taken full advantage of James Harden's spotty effort in transition defense to strike early and often in this game.
Especially while Robert Williams III is out, Boston is going to have to use its speed and quickness to make up for its lack of size. The Celtics have done so tonight, and that's why they enter the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead.
-- Tim Bontemps
Jayson Tatum catching fire... again
Bill Russell remembered
During a break in action early in the third quarter, the Celtics showed the late Bill Russell's wife, Jeannine Russell, on the jumbotron here inside TD Garden.
The fans then broke into a spontaneous standing ovation, one that brought Russell to tears as she acknowledged the crowd.
-- Tim Bontemps
Arms, legs and fouls heat up start of second half
It took only 19 seconds for the second half to get interesting.
Boston's Marcus Smart gets tangled up with Philly's Joel Embiid, who hooked his arm and drew a foul. Smart tried to grab Embiid's leg, and Embiid fell to the ground. Jaylen Brown then came over and got in Embiid's face.
Eventually, after a long review led by crew chief and veteran official James Capers, the only penalties assessed on the play were to Smart -- both a personal and technical foul.
Still, safe to say that there is no love lost between these two teams, and a potential seven-game playoff series down the road between them would be must-see TV.
-- Tim Bontemps
Joel Embiid causing first-half problems for Boston
Well, that was awfully fun.
The Celtics and 76ers are tied at 63 at halftime, following a rollicking opening 24 minutes that saw both teams make big runs, stars on both teams show out and interesting subplots from a minutiae standpoint on both sides.
James Harden had 22 points, three rebounds and four assists, but his biggest highlight came in the form of a horrendous sequence that saw him both shake reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart (only to give a good long shimmy) and airball the subsequent 3-pointer. Harden then allowed Jayson Tatum to coast by him for a layup on the following possession, and Embiidthen committed his third foul at the other end.
Embiid went 3-for-7 from the field, but his immense presence inside caused problems for Boston. Speaking of Celtics bigs, Noah Vonlehplayed the fourth most minutes on the team, behind only Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Smart. And, not surprisingly, it was Tatum and Brown leading the way for Boston, as the dynamic forward tandem for the Celtics combined for 34 points on 12-for-23 shooting.
-- Tim Bontemps
Shimmy shimmy ya, shimmy yam, shimmy... oh no...
Brogdon a Sixth Man the Celtics need
In the second quarter, Malcolm Brogdon has given Celtics fans a glimpse of what he can provide this team -- and what the Celtics lacked in last year's playoffs.
Brogdon has scored six quick points and picked up a nifty assist to Noah Vonleh inside, flashing the kind of scoring punch and creation off the bench that Boston never had during its run to the 2022 NBA Finals. For all of the understandable focus on Stephen Curry's heroics in that series, Boston lost because its offense couldn't get it done against Golden State's defense. Having another proven player like Brogdon off the bench is not only something that could benefit the Celtics during what they hope is a deep playoff run next spring, but it's a role that could make Brogdon a favorite to win this year's NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.
-- Tim Bontemps
Strong first quarter for Harden a good sign
Philadelphia's James Harden has 16 points at the end of the first quarter. He has already drawn three 3-point shooting fouls, including a completed four-point play, and also became the first player in the NBA to shoot the free throw for the new take-foul rule at the 6:13 mark of the first quarter.
Harden was counted out by many after an uncharacteristically poor set of performances following his trade to the 76ers last season. I always anticipated he was injured more than washed up as he has been dealing with the remnants of his soft tissue injuries. His performance so far Tuesday falls in line with my preseason expectations that Harden is poised for a big season.
-- Andre Snellings
76ers' backup center not a surprise
One of the interesting subplots of the 76ers' preseason was who would get the backup center minutes behind superstar Joel Embiid, with both veteran Montrezl Harrell and emerging youngster Paul Reed both getting shots at it.
Tuesday night, it was Harrell who got the call midway through the first quarter, as he slid into a familiar partnership from the opening years of his career, running pick-and-rolls with James Harden.
This was what was anticipated when Harrell was signed, with he and Harden expected to run pick-and-rolls against backup units. But Reed got enough playing time during the preseason over Harrell to at least make it a question of which one would play, and 76ers coach Doc Rivers said on multiple occasions both players would get their chances.
The way this game played out also answered another question: how Rivers will deploy his rotation. At least in the short-term, it looks like Harden is going to get his chances to eat offensively, while emerging star guard Tyrese Maxey will partner with Embiid.
-- Tim Bontemps
Vonleh's minutes speaks to Celtics' situation
And, in the first five minutes of the 2022-23 NBA season, we have seen the Celtics begin to do just that. First came the decision to start Derrick White, opting to go with a small lineup with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum at the two forward spots as opposed to opting to play a bigger option alongside Al Horford.
Part of the reason why interim coach Joe Mazzulla, in his first game on the sidelines for the Celtics, has gone with that lineup throughout the preseason, came along when the first player off the bench for the Celtics in Tuesday night's game against the 76ers was journeyman big man Noah Vonleh.
Vonleh, the ninth pick in the 2014 draft, is playing for his eighth team in eight NBA seasons, after spending all of last season playing for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. While he had a strong training camp, the fact Vonleh is playing early minutes for the Celtics is both a sign of how little frontcourt depth Boston has, as well as at least a partial indictment of the chances that former All-Star big man Blake Griffin is going to make any kind of meaningful impact on Boston's roster moving forward.
Embiid with the massive block
Tatum opens up red hot
Jayson Tatum was ready for the 2022-23 season to begin. He scored 7 of the Celtics' first 9 points, including this 3-pointer from the corner. Tatum's career high for a season-opener is 30 points, on Dec. 23, 2021 against the Bucks.
Celtics honor Bill Russell
Blake is in the building
But it's not even Wednesday...