Final, Celtics win 114-108: This was one of those nights where Jeff Green just tantalizes Boston Celtics fans even more.
On the strength of a 17-point third quarter, Green erupted for 36 points as the Celtics (17-33) exacted revenge on the Philadelphia 76ers (15-35) for last week’s buzzer-beating defeat. Rajon Rondo was also superb, going for eight points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the victory.
Thaddeus Young went for 20 points to lead the Sixers, who dropped their fourth straight game. Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger powered their ways to 18 and 19 points, respectively.
Fourth quarter, :25.5, Celtics 112-105: MCW just came up like a rookie. Hollis Thompson hit a three and the Sixers won a jump ball to get the ball back. but the rookie point guard dribbled the ball off his foot to give possession back to Boston.
This should be the game, provided the Celtics can hit free throws or execute one last, long play.
Fourth quarter, :59.4, Celtics 112-105: It’s easy to take for granted what Rondo can do when he’s around every night. Seeing the Celtics without him for so long, though, has created a new appreciation for this gem of a point guard.
The Celtics were in danger as the Sixers had multiple chances to make it a one-possession game. But Rondo eventually got the ball in his hands, called for Bass and Sully to give him a double-screen, penetrated and bounced an exquisite pass to Sully for an and-one layup to give the Celts some breathing room.
Fourth quarter, 4:38, Celtics 103-99: Sloppiness by the Celtics has translated into a real threat by the Sixers. A careless turnover by Wallace turned into a free layup by Wroten and a bad shot by Bayless got Young a nice post-up look at Philly’s end.
It’s a four-point game and the Celtics have some things to figure out. Rondo coming in will help, but the little man can’t do everything by himself.
Fourth quarter, 5:55, Celtics 103-95: Bayless might be a nice combo guard piece off the bench, but a point guard, he’s not.
Rondo is on the bench, having played 27 minutes, as Steven tries to keep his point guard to 30 minutes max tonight. We should see Rondo in a couple of minutes. In the meantime, Bayless is running the show, and it ain’t pretty.
Bayless has been on the wrong side of a couple of fouls, which he hasn’t agreed with, at both ends. He hesitated on a wide-open three, when he could have either fired away or passed to the red-hot Green in the corner. That split second led to a three-second violation on Sully, who was camped out for the offensive board.
Rondo can’t come back a moment too soon for Boston.
Fourth quarter, 8:35, Celtics 96-91: Maybe Rondo’s wind is gone, since he did go almost a year without an NBA game. But Rondo has stalled, and with Green and Bass getting a rest, the Celtics have stalled, too.
Rondo hasn’t recorded an assist since halftime and other than a nifty flip shot, he hasn’t had much success creating points out of a lineup consisting of Kelly Olynyk, Wallace, Bayless and Humphries. Olynyk and Hump, whose minutes have been limited, look to be struggling to get their rhythm late in this game.
Wroten is becoming a problem for the Celtics. He has 14 points, nine of them in the second half, as the Sixers have stormed back to pull as close as three.
End of third quarter, Celtics 88-82: Tony Wroten really likes shooting. He likes it so much he launched a 3/4-court shot at the buzzer that swished through the net and made the Sixers’ deficit look manageable.
Wroten doesn’t like shooting as much as Green does, though, nor is he as effective tonight. Green scored 17 points in the third quarter and was 5-for-5 from three at one point before he was forced to launch two bad looks at the end of the shot clock.
For all his defensive indifference, Green now has 30 points to lead all scorers. He hasn’t been as efficient as Young, who has 16 points on 13 shots, or Bass, who has 18 points on a Rondo-aided 7-for-10 shooting. But Green has the most, and that’s what gets your name in the paper.
Third quarter, 5:32, Celtics 73-67: The Celtics are working harder than the Sixers, hitting the floor and winning every 50-50 ball. It’s a good thing, too, because they need every extra possession.
Even with Rondo ballin’, the Celtics aren’t that far separated from the Sixers as a team. Evan Turner, who was scoreless in the first half, has already dropped eight points as the Sixers keep sticking around. Sullinger outracing MCW for a loose ball and Bradley sneaking in to steal the ball from Young are the types of players the Celtics have to have to win this game.
Halftime, Celtics 56-47: Everyone had an idea that Rajon Rondo would have an impact on the Celtics, but … wow.
Despite scoring just two points, Rondo is owning this game. He has nine assists, just one turnover and has helped put three Boston starters in double figures in scoring. As a team, the Celtics are shooting 50 percent from the field, have generated 12 free throws and have 19 assists on 23 field goals. They’ve also committed just five turnovers.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens must be giddy drawing up some of these halfcourt sets. Rondo has hit Avery Bradley and Jeff Green for open layups on some neat misdirection plays, which looked really easy, but only because Rondo was running them. Court vision like that isn’t easy to come by.
The Sixers, usually so sharp at taking care of the ball, have turned it over an uncharacteristic nine times. When they’ve held onto the ball, they have threatened, as they did in the middle of the second quarter. But turnovers are deadly against Rondo, who loves nothing more than having the ball in his hands in the open floor.
Second quarter, 2:08, Celtics 49-42: Rondo is showing just what a difference he can make. Against a team that beat them by a point a week ago, the Celtics are now ahead by seven and gaining momentum with Rondo at the helm.
Rondo tosses the ball over the top to Green for a one-handed alley-oop, then fired a pass to Green on the wing for a three, to put some worry into the Sixers again. Green’s been aggressive, but not especially effective, going solo. He’s been much better when letting Rondo create his offense for him.
Second quarter, 6:16, Celtics 39-37: There goes the Celtics’ lead, pretty much.
Once the Sixers stopped turning the ball over and getting better looks, they were able to wipe out a sizable deficit fairly quickly. Thaddeus Young, who has a game-high 14 points, drills a transition three to narrow a one-time 11-point Boston advantage to just two.
Second quarter, 8:36, Celtics 39-30: One guy who should love playing with Rondo is Gerald Wallace. Of course, any change should be welcomed by Wallace. It couldn’t hurt.
It’s been a mixed bag for Wallace with Rondo, just like it has been in this game. Wallace got a sweet pass from Rondo for what should have been an easy layup, but Wallace muffed the finish.
The Celtics didn’t forget about him, though. Recognizing that Wallace had a smaller defender on him, Rondo got him the ball in the post and Wallace easily spun baseline for a banked hook shot.
End of first quarter, Celtics 34-23: Bass isn’t the only player benefiting from Rondo’s presence. Pretty much anybody who can knock down a shot is.
Jerryd Bayless has directly benefited, getting and making a great look from the left corner on a crosscout pass by Rondo. But Avery Bradley has also capitalized on the extra attention the Sixers have had to give to Rondo. Bradley’s midrange jump shot is working tonight, and he’s draining it to the tune of 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting so far.
Just as big for the Celtics has been the defense of Rondo and Bradley. They’ve combined for three steals to help keep Philly from getting into its offense, which has kept the Sixers off balance.
First quarter, 6:38, Celtics 15-7: It may take a while for Rondo to get his rhythm back with some of this teammates, but it’s clear he’s already back to feeling 100 percent comfortable with one.
Rondo and Brandon Bass have operated like two arms on the same body in the pick and roll the last two games. Although it hasn’t garnered Rondo an assist to Bass yet, it has led to buckets for Boston so far.
In fact, the decoy of Bass as the screener was enough to draw the Sixers defense and leave Green open flashing to the hoop. Rondo found him for the layup and the Celtics’ 15-3 run has Sixers coach Brett Brown asking for his second timeout already.
First quarter, 9:05, Celtics 7-4: Before Rajon Rondo had had enough, the Celtics started the game as though they were looking to take the most difficult shots imaginable. Their first five looks were atrocious, coming heavily contested or at the end of the shot clock.
But Rondo wasn’t going to let that continue for long.
With Rondo executing the attack, the Celtics have had three straight productive offensive possessions to complete a 7-0 run. Brandon Bass got a pair of free throws, Jared Sullinger finished strong off a nifty dime from Rondo into the lane and Jeff Green canned a corner 3-pointer to vault the Celtics into the lead.
6:30 p.m.: Here it is, Celtics fans. Perhaps your last chance to see Chris Johnson in kelly green.
Johnson’s second 10-day contract expires Thursday, which means the Celtics either need to sign him through the end of the season or let him walk. Since the Celtics don’t play Thursday, this could be Johnson’s last game as a member of the team.
Johnson has been outstanding in his short time with the team, of course, averaging 8.7 points per game. He’s scored more points in his 19 days with the club (61) than Keith Bogans scored in almost half a season (12).
Just don’t tell that to Bogans, who has been excused from the team after his lack of playing time became too much of an insult to bear.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: The Boston Celtics would like nothing more than to flip the script on Evan Turner and the Philadelphia 76ers.
The last time these teams met, Turner silenced the TD Garden crowd with a buzzer-beating layup to defeat the Celtics on their home floor. Exactly a week later, the Celtics have a chance to return the favor.
Jeff Green has not been sharp lately, but he will give it another shot Wednesday in Philly. Fresh off a poor January, Green contributed another clunker against the Orlando Magic to tip off February. With just 14 days to go before the NBA trade deadline, Green could be quickly playing his way out of town — or off of other team’s radars.
This could be the start of Green’s effort to change that.
Unlike the last meeting, the Celtics (16-33) will have both starting guards in action. Rajon Rondo rested and Avery Bradley was still out with a sprained ankle the last time the Celtics faced the Sixers (15-34), which turned out to be pivotal on Philly’s final possession. Brad Stevens will feel much more at ease if Rondo and Bradley are on the court for a similar situation this time.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m.
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