Star guard James Harden looked more comfortable in Saturday’s Game 1 win over the Nets than he did with the 76ers in the playoffs last year.
“He’s confident in how we play now,” coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “Last year, even when he was playing, it was, am I doing the right thing here?”
- Harden hit seven threes on his way to 23 points. The NBA assist leader also finished with 13 in that department. “He looked great from 3,” said center Joel Embiid, who scored 26 points.
- Along with that, Harden suggested he feels better physically in this year’s postseason. ““I couldn’t make a layup,” he said. “But that’s the least of my worries. My legs, my body feels just powerful, feels strong.”
Star wing Jaylen Brown said the Celtics wanted to come out swinging, and did indeed deliver, in their Game 1 win over the Hawks.
“It’s a great time of the year,” Brown said, via Steve Hewitt of the Boston Herald. “It’s the time we all have been thinking about, waiting around for so it was extremely important to set the tone tonight here on our home floor to open up the playoffs.”
That said, the Celtics allowed the Hawks to cut a 30-point deficit to 12 twice in the fourth quarter. A lot of it was a result of Boston being careless with the ball.
“You get up 30 and kind of just relax a little bit,” guard Derrick White said. “Whether it’s the playoffs or not, we’ve got to be better with that. We can’t take our foot off the gas and kind of slow down like we did in the second half. But a lot of stuff we can improve on, make adjustments on, and get better about.”
- Coach Joe Mazzulla added that, for the most part, a win is a win. “It’s good that you can fortunately win and at the same time, have the humility to know that you can be a lot better and we can do things better,” he said.
It was a very good night for forward Mikal Bridges in Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the 76ers … in the first half, anyway.
Bridges scored 23 points in the first 24 minutes, then attempted just two shots in the third and fourth quarters combined. Still, his 30 points offered the Nets their best chance to win.
“None of that [stuff] matters when you lose,’’ Bridges said, via Dan Martin of the New York Post. “It feels good to make some shots, but I’d rather miss shots and win.”
- Coach Jacque Vaughn indicated that, no, his team did not have butterflies about its first playoff game as a newer group. “I don’t think our guys were nervous at all,’’ Vaughn said, via Martin. “They showed me over the course of the game we belong here. That part of it was really good.”
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