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Tatum, Brown shine as Celtics down Sixers in season-opener

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 35 points each as the Boston Celtics brushed off their pre-season woes with an impressive 126-117 opening night victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday (EST).

Tatum — roundly criticized after a series of disappointing performances in Boston’s NBA Finals defeat to Golden State last season — led from the front in a dazzling display at the TD Garden.

The 24-year-old Tatum went 13-of-20 from the field while Brown’s 35-point salvo came from 14-of-24 with four three-pointers.

Malcolm Brogdon (16 points), Grant Williams (15) and defensive linchpin Marcus Smart (14) also made double figures as the Celtics handed interim head coach Joe Mazzulla the first win of his reign.

Mazzulla only took over as head coach last month after the stunning season-long suspension of Ime Udoka.

Udoka, one of the rising coaching stars of the NBA, was banned for the entire 2022-2023 campaign after details emerged of an improper relationship with a female member of the Celtics staff.

But while the scandal upended the Celtics’ pre-season preparations, there was no sign of it on Tuesday as the new campaign got under way with an emphatic win over one of the teams expected to be one of their main Eastern Conference rivals.

After the Sixers started brightly to lead 29-24 after the first quarter, Boston roared back to level it at 63-63 at the half-time break.

The Celtics then pulled away late in the third quarter with Smart punishing a sloppy Joel Embiid turnover to make it 87-78 before a Tatum three-pointer gave the team a 12-point cushion.

The Celtics held onto the lead for the remainder of the game, going 16 points clear later in the fourth before comfortably closing out the win.

James Harden led the Sixers scorers with 35 points, while Embiid added 26 and Tyrese Maxey 21.

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