WASHINGTON • Gordon Hayward considered it a blessing to be able to play basketball again as he adjusted to being back in the game after a year of rehabilitation.
The Boston Celtics forward contributed 10 points in the 105-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on his return from a broken left leg suffered in their National Basketball Association opener last term.
Jayson Tatum scored 23 points while Marcus Morris added 16 from the bench in the 2018-19 season's first game on Tuesday.
"My adrenaline was pumping the first three or four minutes," said Hayward, limited to 25 minutes on court. "It was great just to be out there. It was a big step for me.
"A lot to work on, but the joy of being out here was amazing. Such a blessing I was able to play basketball again."
Kyrie Irving, who missed 20 games last season after leg injuries ended his season early, hit only two of 14 from the floor for seven points but made seven assists.
"I just had a big smile when they announced my name again," the point guard said.
"And just really getting a sense of playing for the Boston Celtics again. I had missed it so much."
Joel Embiid scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the 76ers while Ben Simmons, the Australian guard and reigning Rookie of the Year, contributed 19 points.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown admitted that his side were thoroughly outplayed.
"You felt all of the Boston Celtics tonight," he said. "They've got playmakers, they've got shot-takers, they're just play-off-built."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS