Paul Pierce scored 16 points, Brandon Bass had 11 points and six rebounds, and Spencer Hawes scored 17 points to lead five Sixers players in double figures.
This one tested the limits of even the most dedicated basketball fan's patience. The Nets come to town Tuesday.
Fourth quarter, 2:20, Sixers 104-71: When the Sixers score 100 points or more, fans can bring their ticket stubs to Philadelphia area McDonald's restaurants for a free Big Mac. What we're saying is, the lucky few fans who picked up those $2 tickets got themselves a $3.75 (roughly) hamburger at a 47 percent discount.
Bad basketball and a bad hamburger for the price of just bad basketball? What a steal!
Fourth quarter, 7:56, Sixers 92-65: From here on, it should be the Dionte Christmas Show. Rivers inserted the Philly native and let him run things for the Celtics, which is exactly what the few fans in attendance probably wanted to see. Also, anything that keeps this game moving is awesome.
End of third quarter, Sixers 84-63: There were plenty of good seats available for this game. (An online ad offered tickets for $2. Seriously.) Through three quarters, the good people of Philadelphia who chose not to come out for this one did not miss much.
The Celtics whipped up 19 turnovers and shot 25-fot-59 from the field, and they were out-assisted (if that is a word) 25-17. Pierce and Bass played well, but the rest of the Celtics, especially the frontcourt guys, did not distinguish themselves.
Third quarter, 1:03, Sixers 79-63: This is why they have the preseason. The Celtics looked disjointed and uncomfortable whenever new guys were paired with less then three or four members of the team's core. This much is clear: Sullinger will not be the second coming of Dave Cowens right away. His strong play in the first three preseason games was encouraging, but he is still a rookie with a lot of adjustments to make.
Third quarter, 9:50, Sixers 60-51: Milicic has played reasonably well this preseason, inspiring talk of him possibly starting at center while Garnett moves to power forward. (We will believe that when we see it.) That plan requires Milicic to be healthy, of course, and he had to get his right wrist looked at after taking a whack as he fell to the floor. The wrist is wrapped, and the Celtics were forced to use a time out after Milicic spent some time on the ground.
Halftime, 56-42: Perhaps the most intriguing position battle for the Celtics in the preseason is the one between Bass and Sullinger. The rookie out of Ohio State attracted some supporters with his play in the first three preseason games, but through two quarters in preseason game No. 4, the vet had the edge.
Bass shot 4-for-5 from the field and nabbed three rebounds in 12 minutes, but stats only told part of the story. Bass looked completely in rhythm with Rondo, Terry and the rest of his teammates, while Sullinger looked like the new guy he is.
Granted, many of Sullinger's struggles were a result of his playing center for an extended period with one of the Celtics' small lineups. If Sullinger does play the five in the NBA, as some have suggested, he has some adjustments to make. Physically he will always be outmatched at that spot.
Second quarter, 5:40, Sixers 40-35: Spencer Hawes owned the paint, and that is a wild statement.
The Sixers center followed up his six-point first quarter with five more in the second quarter — which is barely halfway finished. So for those of you who have Hawes on your preseason fantasy team, congratulations.
Second quarter, 8:49, Sixers 32-28: This whole "coming off the bench" thing might not work out so badly for Bass, if that indeed ends up being his fate. The LSU product looked sharp in his first eight minutes. He dropped four of his first five shots, including an and-one layup. Of course, he also nestled home a couple of his trademark jumpers.
End of first quarter, Sixers 23-21: It is easy to see when a bunch of consummate pros are on the court because the quality of play picks up noticeably. Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Jason Collins and Brandon Bass joined Rondo on the court late in the first quarter and for a few minutes they played like they had played together forever.
Most of those guys will never be confused with All-Stars, particularly Collins, but the veteran big man demonstrated his value with a couple of blocked shots, a short jumper off a pick-and-pop and taking a charge (his forte).
Christmas saw his earliest playing time of the preseason when he hopped off the bench with a few seconds to go in the quarter. The Philly native is competing for a job, as mentioned earlier, and this is by far the highest-quality group he has teamed with thus far.
First quarter, 2:34, Sixers 17-15: Cutting down on turnovers is one of the Celtics' explicit goals, but you could not tell by watching the beginning of this game. The Celtics threw the ball all over creation. Every member of the starting lineup except Lee, who hardly handled the ball, committed a turnover in the first quarter. Milicic and Pierce committed two each to lead the way.
Thanks to the turnovers, the Celtics fell behind despite controlling the glass 10-6 in the early going.
First quarter, 5:31, Sixers 11-8: Start three players who were not with the team last season, and some hiccups are to be expected. Lee, Milicic and Sullinger fared well enough in the opening minutes, but there were some awkward moments. Sullinger and Rondo bumped into each other on an apparent attempt at a pick-and-roll, and Milicic, tossed an otherwise nifty over-the-shoulder pass that was intended for Pierce but instead went to nobody.
Sullinger and Pierce were able to put together a decent two-man play ending with a layup by Sullinger, assisted by Pierce.
6:35 p.m.: Dionte Christmas' trip to Philadelphia is more than just a homecoming. This may also be one of the Temple product's last chances to impress Celtics coach Doc Rivers and earn a spot on the roster. Christmas turned down several offers from overseas teams to sign with the Celtics on a partially guaranteed deal, and his performance in the preseason has been spotty. The good news for Christmas is that Kris Joseph, Jamar Smith and Micah Downs have not done anything to vault themselves above the group, so everyone is still competing on a more or less even field.
(Also, there is no guarantee Rivers will carry the full 15 players allowed. The Celtics are well below that, with just 12 players who could be labeled as having a "strong likelihood" or breaking camp with the C's.)
Lavoy Allen, a college teammate of Christmas' with the Owls, will get the nod at center for the Sixers in place of Bynum.
The starting lineups appear below.
6:20 p.m.: Andrew Bynum is not the only All-Star big man who will miss Monday's game. Kevin Garnett will take this one off as part of the first leg of a back-to-back, and Paul Pierce's minutes will reportedly be limited, too.
Missing Garnett is not a big deal for the Celtics. They know how to play with the veteran center-who-is-not-a-center. The Sixers would surely like to get Bynum out on the court, though. No matter how routine his knee injections purportedly were, last year's Sixers team showed the importance of chemistry and continuity on the court, and not having undisputably their best player is hampering their development this preseason.
8 a.m. ET: Very little
remains the same for the Philadelphia 76ers from the team that took the Celtics
to seven games in last spring's Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Sixers have a
new best player, a new sixth man and a new identity after several significant
changes to the roster shifted the focus from the wings into the paint.
Andrew Bynum, whom the
Sixers traded Andre Iguodala away to get, is set to be the star for Philly this
season, but the star big man will not suit up for Monday's preseason game
against the Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center. Bynum has been shelved as a
precautionary measure as he recovers from a so-called "routine" knee
treatment. He is targeting the team's Halloween opener for his return.
In addition to Bynum,
the Sixers added Kwame Brown, Dorell Wright and Nick Young, as well as rookie
Arnett Moultrie, and bid adieu to Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks. This is now a
squad that can score in streaks, unlike last year's team, which hung its hat on
defense and hustle.
Join us for updates and
analysis during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. ET.
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