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Celtics 121, Nets 105

Kelly Olynyk leads Celtics to a rout of Nets

Globe Staff

Too many things were going right, and it made Celtics coach Brad Stevens nervous.

His starting point guard was on the floor a month ahead of schedule.

His first-round draft pick was hawking inbounds passes, diving out of bounds for loose balls, and turning every play into a hustle play.

His defense was making the Nets look like they got their dates confused and it was still preseason.

His team was sitting on a 26-point lead at the half, their shooting percentage was an astronomical 61 percent at the break and it looked like they were going to run away with their season opener.


Stevens had to catch himself.

It hit him that the Celtics were in the exact same spot a year ago in their home opener against the Bucks.

The numbers were almost identical. They had piled a first-half lead as high as 18 points. They burned the nets, shooting 63 percent. Their first win in a home opener since 2011 seemed like a lock.

Then they turned the ball over eight times in the second half, shot 21 percent, and watched what looked like a walkover turn into a 105-98 loss.

Stevens figured it could happen again.

“So I wasn’t really focused on all that was going well,” he said. “I was focused on all that could possibly go wrong.”

But it never did.

Where the Nets were sloppy and sluggish, the Celtics were crisp and relentless, turning the Nets 20 turnovers into 25 points, stomping through the paint (62 points) and shooting 56 percent from the floor as a team.

With a padded brace around his surgically-repaired left hand, Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double (13 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) in Boston’s 121-105 rout of Brooklyn.

Marcus Smart (the aforementioned first-round pick) left his fingerprints all over the victory with 10 points, 4 steals, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in his debut. The Celtics were plus-20 in the 27 minutes he was on the floor.


Eight of the 10 Celtics that took the floor finished in double figures. The Celtics set the intensity level and the Nets could never flip the regular-season switch.

“I thought our intensity level was really good,” Stevens said. “Even when we were scrambling and out of sorts, we were doing it hard. We are flying all over the place, we are active, we were active to their biggest threats.”

Rondo, Smart, and Avery Bradley took turns making life miserable for the Nets biggest weapons, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, who missed a combined 22 of 35 shots.

“We just picked it up on defense,” Smart said. “Avery Bradley was phenomenal. Rondo was trying to get his wind back but he was still great on the defensive end and just being the leader that he is on the court.”

All Stevens wanted to see coming in was effort. Results were secondary.

“I think that in the first half, we just kind of kept grinding, grinding, grinding, playing hard, doing the little things right and then we went on our run,” Stevens said. “That’s what sometimes happens. Sometimes you don’t go on that run but you do all those little things and you go on a cold streak and you stay within reach.

“We’re not going to shoot like that all the time,” Stevens said. “But hopefully we can play with that kind of tenacity and togetherness moreso than not.”


Even when the Nets surged in the third quarter and cut the Celtics lead to 19, Stevens was encouraged by the way his team fended off their run.

For the first time since 2010, the Celtics came away with a win in their season opener.

Getting the first one was essential as they dive head-first into a schedule that features 11 playoff teams in their first 14 games.

“It’s hard to be up 26 and continue to play the way you say,” Stevens said. “I thought the start of the third quarter we were much less authoritative in our defensive stands. So we’ve got to grow from that. But it’s a great game for us. I thought we did a lot of good things. We can build off those and we can get a lot better and we showed that, too.”


  Kelly Olynyk leads Celtics to a rout of Nets

■  On Basketball: Kevin Garnett comfortable coming ‘home’ to Boston

■  Photos: Celtics open season at TD Garden

■  Notebook: Easy decision for Rajon Rondo to play

Julian Benbow can be reached at