Game over, Celtics win 92-79: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett must have been eavesdropping when Sixers coach Doug Collins said prior to the game that his team’s young players should have more energy in the second game of a back-to-back. Pierce, 35, and Garnett, 36, played an efficient game as Boston led by as many as 21 points to defeat the rival Sixers.
The Celtics blanketed the Sixers, holding Philadelphia to 39 percent shooting, to give the Atlantic Division opponents identical 11-9 records. The Celtics now take three days to recharge before they next take the court on Wednesday.
Fourth quarter, 2:59, Celtics 89-72: Sometimes Green needs a shot in the arm. He was isolated on 7-footer Spencer Hawes, with their side of the court cleared, yet the Celtics forward let the Sixers center off the hook by passing away. Green has to take advantage of mismatches like that.
Fortunately for the Celtics, Bass was not in a passive mode. Bass was the only Celtics player to score in a three-minute stretch when the Sixers started to make one final push. Thanks to Bass’ six points, the Celtics were able to maintain their comfortable edge.
Fourth quarter, 5:45, Celtics 85-70: Give credit to Sixers rookie Maalik Wayns. The kid has chutzpah.
The Villanova product waved off Turner and blew through the meat of the Celtics defense for a tough layup. The Celtics got their lead back up to 18 points several times, but the Sixers refused to give in to the Celtics.
Fourth quarter, 8:59, Celtics 77-61: With Green in the lead, the Celtics sought to put some more distance between themselves and the Sixers at the start of the final quarter. Green drained a 3-pointer, then realized his defender was playing off of him so he calmly canned an 18-footer.
End of third quarter, Celtics lead 70-57: The Celtics managed to salvage something toward the end of the quarter, but for the most part that was 12 minutes they would like to forget.
With Pierce, Garnett and even Rondo spending time on the bench, the Celtics watched much of their 21-point lead evaporate. The Sixers shot 14-for-20 in the quarter while the Celtics started out hot but almost immediately hit the skids. The Celtics went almost four minutes without scoring and saw their lead whittled down to eight points.
Third quarter, 3:31, Celtics 65-50: Rather quickly, it was Rivers’ turn to be disgusted. He watched his team give up three straight buckets, including a cherry-picking dunk by Dorell Wright, and walked almost all the way across the court while the players walked to the bench. From his facial expression and gestures, the tone of the timeout was not, “Hey guys, you are the bestest! Keep it up, K?”
Third quarter, 5:10, Celtics 62-44: Is it possible for both coaches to be disgusted with the way their teams are playing?
Rivers had to be displeased with the way his defense played at the beginning of the third quarter, when the Sixers scored at will and barely attempted a shot from farther than four feet away. Thaddeus Young, who had six points in the entire first half, had 10 points in the third quarter alone — with more than five minutes to go.
The Celtics maintained their lead because Philly did not play much defense, either. Collins called for a full timeout after his team let Rondo connect with Chris Wilcox for alley-oop dunks on consecutive possessions.
Halftime, Celtics lead 48-28: The Sixers were able to overcome poor shooting on Friday by crashing the offensive boards and gaining extra possessions. It was doubtful that even that sort of effort would have saved them in the first half of this one.
The Sixers shot 9-for-29 — that is 24 percent — from the field. The Celtics could have done virtually anything but completely stink and still have held the lead, but unfortunately for Philadelphia the C’s did not stink at all. The Celtics shot 56 percent and were once again in line to win the rebounding battle with a 19-16 edge on the boards. Paul Pierce played like a man determined not to play another overtime, as he scored 10 of his 13 points in the second quarter. Almost all of Pierce’s offense came within eight feet of the rim.
One night after delivering a promising performance, including the eventual game-winning shot, Turner had missed seven of his nine shots.
Second quarter, 5:33, Celtics 36-23: Rondo really was not moving that well, we promise. But if you looked at his stat line and thought otherwise, we understand.
Rondo hardly left the floor — not that he had to — to deke Lavoy Allen out of his shoes and spin home a reverse layup. Rondo at half-speed is still faster than half the point guards in the league, so he was putting together another solid all-around game. He had three points, four assists and four rebounds, potentially on his way to another triple-double. Hey, with Rondo it is never too early to be on the lookout for one of those.
Second quarter, 10:34, Celtics 28-16: Collins might be the most hands-on coach in the NBA, and he was not about to let a quick flurry by the Celtics get out of hand on his young team.
After the Celtics opened the second quarter with two baskets, punctuated by a one-handed dunk by Garnett off the feed by Green, Collins could not signal for a timeout fast enough.
The timeout gave everybody a chance to cheer when Mark Wahlberg was shown on the video screen, so you could say this worked out for everybody.
End of first quarter, Celtics lead 24-16: Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Courtney Lee enabled the Celtics to stretch their lead over the Sixers in the first quarter. Boston’s bench has gradually looked more comfortable in recent weeks, and it accounted for nine of the team’s 24 points in the first 12 minutes.
Lee was the only one held scoreless, but he chipped in solid defense and floor spacing, as usual, and even helped with ball-distribution duties in Rondo’s absence. He picked up two assists, including a textbook crosscourt bounce pass to Sullinger for a jump shot.
First quarter, 2:55, Celtics 17-12: Rondo’s hobbling was not just an optical illusion. Courtney Lee came in to relieve the Celtics point guard much earlier than is customary, and head athletic trainer Ed Lacerte immediately went to work re-taping Rondo’s ankle on the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, the Sixers backcourt did not appear to be moving much better — although their problem did not appear to be health-related.
First quarter, 4:54, Celtics 14-11: As Sixers coach Doug Collins noted before the game, the Celtics have the more seasoned players by far. But in the early going they looked like the more spry team. The Celtics shot 7-for-13 from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds to the Sixers’ five in the opening seven minutes. The Sixers, meanwhile, shot 5-for-12.
Rajon Rondo, who tweaked both ankles in Friday’s loss, seemed to be shuffling early on. His gimpiness did not stop him from assisting three of Boston’s first seven baskets, but his mobility was definitely hampered.
7:10 p.m.: This was not an easy day for Doc Rivers. In addition to dealing with the second game in two days and the third game in four nights, Rivers jetted quickly to Milwaukee on Saturday morning to attend the funeral of Rick Majerus, who was an assistant coach when Rivers played at Marquette.
“It’s been a long day, a tough day,” Rivers said in a brief meeting with the media prior to the game.
Anyway, there was a game to be played. The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: The Celtics are lucky to be playing at home Saturday, because they may need an extra pick-me-up from the home crowd. The Celtics will be playing their third game in four nights and their second straight game against the Sixers, a scrappy squad that has renewed its rivalry with Boston in the last two seasons.
Although such a tight stretch of games normally would put Celtics coach Doc Rivers on an extreme minutes-watch with veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, he can be a little more aggressive than usual since the Celtics have three days to get relief next week before they host scuffling Dallas. Still, Rivers could not have been happy about playing Pierce and Jason Terry more than 40 minutes each in Friday’s overtime loss in Philadelphia.
For the Sixers, Evan Turner will try to top his performance from the first game of this home-and-home set. The third-year guard/forward canned 26 points, including the game-winner with 3.9 seconds remaining in overtime, and added 10 rebounds as the Sixers (11-8) knocked off the Celtics (10-9).
Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.