Porzingis, Pritchard star in preseason opener

Celtics-76ers takeaways: Porzingis, Pritchard star in preseason opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics returned to action Sunday night with a thrilling 114-106 victory in their preseason opener vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.

It was an eventful exhibition as Boston’s starters played the first three quarters. We got a good look at prized offseason additions Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, who finished with 17 and six points respectively.

Payton Pritchard, who agreed to a four-year extension earlier in the day, put on a show in front of the TD Garden crowd with a game-high 26 points. Jaylen Brown had himself a night as well with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

On the Sixers’ side, Tyrese Maxey took over with 24 points (19 in first half) on 9-of-17 shooting. Jaden Springer added 14 points off the bench for Philly.

Boston’s next preseason tilt is set for 7:30 p.m. ET Monday against the New York Knicks. First, here are our takeaways from Sunday’s opener.

First look at the new guys

Kristaps Porzingis wasted no time making his presence felt at TD Garden. The 7-foot-3 big man opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and didn’t stop there.

Not long after the 3, Porzingis put an ankle-breaking move on his defender and finished strong at the rim for a dunk. A minute later, he threw down an alley-oop from Derrick White.

Porzingis added another 3 in the third quarter and also made an impact defensively with several shot contests that don’t show up in the stat sheet. He finished with 17 points (5-7 FG), five rebounds, one assist, and a block in 25 minutes.

Jrue Holiday also made his unofficial C’s debut and while his performance wasn’t as loud as Porzingis’, he had a couple of highlight-worthy moments. He notched six points on 2-of-10 shooting with both of his made shots coming from 3-point range.

Holiday also recorded five rebounds and showed his All-Defensive talent with three steals in 22 minutes.

Three more newcomers also made an impact off the bench Sunday. Oshae Brissett had a solid C’s debut with seven points (3-6 FG) and four boards. Lamar Stevens had five points and three rebounds in five minutes. Dalano Banton chipped in five points and three rebounds of his own in 13 minutes.

A day to remember for Payton Pritchard

Pritchard’s day started with a four-year contract extension and ended with a superb showing in Boston’s preseason opener.

The fourth-year point guard finished the first quarter with a bang. He drilled an and-one, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from halfcourt.

He stayed hot in the second quarter with a pair of 3s, then picked up where he left off in the fourth quarter with three more long-range buckets, including this deep one for the dagger.

Pritchard paced both teams in scoring with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting (6-11 3-PT) to go with his four assists. He’ll resume his reserve duties this season, but he’ll be a key contributor off of a Boston bench that lost some of its depth over the summer.

Tatum still finds a way to stuff the stat sheet on his off days, and that’s exactly what happened in this one.

The four-time All-Star looked rusty as he shot just 3-of-13 from the floor (0-for-4 from 3). Still, he managed to record a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He also dished five assists and added a steal in his 27 minutes.

With the Celtics playing the second night of a back-to-back on Monday, we may not see much of Tatum against New York. But the next time he takes the court, it’s safe to assume he’ll be more efficient than he was on Sunday.

Horford continues to show that age is just a number.

The 37-year-old center did a little bit of everything during his 21 minutes in the preseason opener, with 17 of those minutes coming in the first half. He tallied five points with his one make coming from beyond the arc. He also shined defensively with four rebounds and two blocks.

With Robert Williams off to Portland, Horford will be counted on to give the C’s much-needed frontcourt depth behind the oft-injured Porzingis. Sunday’s performance was a reminder that he’s up for the task.

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