Celtics-Sixers Live: Jared Sullinger’s Tough Work Inside Not Enough as C’s Fall 97-85

Jeff Green liveblogEnd of game, Sixers 97-85: The Celtics will win a game eventually. Just not Friday.

Despite an impressive effort by Jared Sullinger, the Celtics fell to 0-3 on the preseason with a loss to the Sixers in Newark, Del. Sullinger led the Celtics with 19 points and had nine rebounds, one short of Brandon Bass’ team-high 10 boards.

The Celtics were done in by a terrible second quarter in which they were outscored 34-17. They ended up shooting 36 percent from the field, actually an uptick from the first half, when they shot less than 30 percent. They were 5-for-21 from deep.

The Sixers had a few standouts, such as Thaddeus Young with 20 points and Spencer Hawes with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. But since they are regular NBA rotation players who should do well, save a hat tip for Tony Wroten’s six assists or Lavoy Allen’s nine rebounds.

The Celtics get another crack at a preseason win Saturday in Manchester, N.H., against the Knicks.

Fourth quarter, 2:41, Sixers 90-82: It will be tough for the Celtics to complete this comeback if they don’t stop the Sixers from scoring.

Olynyk, who has made plenty of nice passes and just made a short pull-up jumper, was sealed off way too easily in the post by Hawes. That forced the Celtics to help and left Young open for a cut to the hoop.

Hawes found Young with a nice interior pass and Young banked in and and-one to extend Philly’s lead.

Say this for the Celtics, though: They are still flying around the court. Lee and Wallace both went into the stands trying to chase down a block on a break, and Lee has knocked away a couple of would-be crossovers by Carter-Williams.

Fourth quarter, 4:54, Sixers 84-79: Maybe late-game comebacks are going to be the Celtics’ thing this preseason. They are back within five points and Pressey and Lee are diving all over the floor for loose balls. The Blue Hens aren’t the only thing fighting here.

Fourth quarter, 8:54, Sixers 76-63: This was around the time Phil Pressey and the guys started to turn it on against the Knicks. They had better get cracking if they want to make another comeback here.

The ball is still moving OK, but with no shots going down, the ball movement almost doesn’t matter. The Celtics’ 3-point shooting has been especially atrocious at just 2-for-15.

Sullinger has been the one player holding his own. The second-year man has 15 points, most on the team, and six boards, second-most on the team behind Bass’ 10.

End of the third quarter, Sixers 72-59: Do you believe in miracles? Royce White re-entered the game and played two minutes without fouling anyone. It was incredible.

In the meantime, the Celtics continue to flail about at both ends. They are moving the ball fairly well on offense but just are not converting — they are now 21-for-62 from the field.

On defense, though, they have not done a good job of keeping the Sixers out of the lane. It isn’t a size issue, either. Bradley has been overly aggressive, which has led to blow-bys or fouls, and Sullinger, Olynyk and Humphries are making poor reads on the Sixers’ interior movement and cutters.

Third quarter, 5:49, Sixers 62-49: Two things are consistent for the Celtics: Bass’ jump shot and Humphries getting lost on defense.

Humphries has committed two goaltending violations and was sealed off while trying to front Young in the post, leading to an easy shooting foul for the tricky lefty. Humphries is not alone in his defensive struggles, as the Sixers are getting constant drive-and-dish opportunities.

This is a bad look for the Celtics. Although they are not slated to be title contenders, they are not supposed to be anywhere near as bad as the Sixers. It’s looking a bit different here.

Halftime, Sixers 54-38: Despite pretty good individual defense by Bradley and Crawford, the Celtics are having all kinds of trouble playing team defense.

Wroten has done an excellent job of getting good shots for himself and his teammates, and the Sixers have hit a lot of tough shots, too. Spencer Hawes has hit three 3-pointers and James Anderson has two.

Hawes leads all scorers with 13 points while Wroten has a game-high five assists. The Celtics are shooting 29.3 percent from the field, led by Crawford and Sullinger with seven points each. The Celtics have made 12 shots as a team on 41 attempts. Yeah. Twelve.

The Celtics have got to focus on getting back on defense in the second half. Too often the Sixers are simply throwing it over the top for an easy layup or to quickly get into their offense while the Celtics fall asleep. The Celtics will take all the crazy, end-of-the-shot-clock threes, but they need to cut down on Philly’s laughably easy dribble penetration.

Second quarter, 5:37, Sixers 40-35: The Vitor Faverani experience is back.

Immediately after entering the game, Faverani forgot to go out of bounds to inbound the ball after a Sixers bucket. So, that was a violation.

A few minutes later, he showed what makes him so enticing to the Celtics. He swooped in to grab a Courtney Lee miss and scored the putback to make it a two-possession game.

Second quarter, 8:53, Sixers 32-29: It may be only preseason, but the Celtics are starting to look disjointed and Stevens needs to cover some things. The Sixers have retaken the lead thanks to Tony Wroten’s dribble penetration, which has helped generate easy layups and open perimeter shots for Philly.

Wroten, who along with teammate Darrius Morris may set the preseason record for dribbles, has gotten past whatever defender the Celtics have sent his way. The second-year guard out of Washington could always play, but he was buried on the bench in Memphis as a rookie.

End of first quarter, Celtics 21-20: Royce White came. He saw. He fouled everything in sight.

White looks considerably out of shape, so it was no surprise he had trouble keeping up with the rest of the professional basketball players on the court. In less than three minutes of action, White committed four personal fouls and had to be ushered to the bench.

As much of a mess as White was, the Celtics were not exactly a pristine product. They’re shooting 6-for-21 from the field and have been helped out by nine Philly fouls. Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger both attempted shot shots that did not even hit the rim. It’s a rough start all around, which is to be expected with two teams that are slated for long, long seasons.

First quarter, 5:30, Sixers 14-8: Crawoford is indeed taking most of the ballhandling duties, and he’s doing it quite well. He found Olynyk for a layup on a nifty interior pass and is playing tough, disciplined defense.

As a whole, the Celtics are whipping the ball around the court. They have assists on all four field goals, but the rest of their shots have been low quality and, as a result, have missed their mark.

6:43 p.m.: Stevens is still trying to mold Bradley into a point guard, even though ample evidence so far suggests Bradley will always be caught somewhere between the one and the two. Starting Bradley with Crawford against the Sixers should relieve some of the ballhandling pressure on Bradley, though.

Olynyk being in the starting lineup raises the question: Exactly what position is he playing? He is a 7-footer, but Danny Ainge said on draft night that he does not consider Olynyk a center.

Of course, Humphries is not a true pivot, either. It won’t really matter who takes the opening tip — Kevin Garnett took the tip-off for years even though Kendrick Perkins played center during the actual game — but we will see who mans the back line of the defense once the action starts.

6:20 p.m.: Chances are, Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar will not be in attendance in Newark to see the Celtics play the Sixers.

We do, however, have them in this gameday video expressing their love for the First State.

6:00 p.m.: In news that should surprise nobody who has taken I-95 south of Philadelphia, traffic kept the Sixers from arriving to the Bob Carpenter Center on time. The game is still expected to go on without a hitch.

5:53 p.m.: In case anybody read too much into Jeff Green being held out of the starting lineup on Wednesday, coach Brad Stevens threw some cold water on the conspiracy theorists.

Jordan Crawford and Kelly Olynyk enter the starting lineup for the first time this preseason, and Kris Humphries is back with the starters after Jared Sullinger took his place on Wednesday. Call this the “tanking” lineup, because if this fivesome starts a lot of games this season, it will be obvious the Celtics are either tanking or a lot of other people got hurt.

The Sixers have not announced their starters yet, but Friday is expected to be Royce White’s debut. White was drafted by the Rockets last season but did not appear in a single game due his battle with an anxiety disorder that included a fear of flying. (The Sixers took a bus to Friday’s game.)

The projected starters appear below.

Celtics
Kris Humphries
Kelly Olynyk
Jeff Green
Jordan Crawford
Avery Bradley

**edit** Here are the Sixers starters:

Sixers
Spencer Hawes
Thaddeus Young
Evan Turner
James Anderson
Michael Carter-Williams

8 a.m. ET: Two preseason games are in the books and the Celtics so far are winless in the Brad Stevens era. They made things interesting late in Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks, but the rookie head coach would surely like to get at least one “W” on his resume, even if the games won’t count for another couple of weeks.

Stevens’ crew will return to the court Friday to face the Philadelphia 76ers at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. That’s “New-ARK,” not “Newurk,” which is in New Jersey.

The Sixers will be playing in the home of their new D-League affiliate, the 87ers, who apparently want to be referred to as the “Sevens.” The Sixers were actually scared of their D-League partners for a while, because Philly was supposed to have another affiliate called the “Nines,” but Sevens ate Nines.

Thank you, thank you very much.

Anyway, join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. ET.

Yardbarker

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