End of game, Sixers win 103-71: This one was every bit as ugly as the final score indicates. The Celtics shot just 35 percent from the field and gave up 54 rebounds as they frittered away an opportunity to take over the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Nobody for the Celtics can really be said to have come to play in this one, but the Sixers certainly did. Second-year guard Evan Turner was the catalyst with 26 points and nine rebounds.
Fourth quarter, 3:35, Sixers 98-63: If you haven’t already guessed, this would be the biggest margin of defeat this season for the Celtics. Williams might make it a record at this rate.
The Sixers’ guard hit a 3 and a crossover jumper to get up to 15 points for Philly, which put six players in double figures in points.
Fourth quarter, 9:13, Sixers 86-55: If you were ever hoping for a long, close look at JaJuan Johnson, Sasha Pavlovic and Greg Stiemsma, this is your lucky day.
The reserves get an extended look in this game, which only ran farther from the Celtics grasp early in the fourth quarter. The Sixers scored six of the first eight points in the frame and re-established their 31-point lead.
End of third quarter, Sixers 80-53: At the very least, it’s not a 30-point deficit anymore for the Celtics. Baby steps.
Two free throws by Brand gave the Sixers their largest lead of the game at 80-49, but before the Celtics had to face the indignity of entering the final quarter with a 31-point deficit, Sasha Pavlovic and Bradley scored to pull the Celtics back to “only” 27 points down.
The Sixers outrebounded the Celtics 43-24 through three quarters and shot 51 percent from the field to offset the Celtics’ 14-9 advantage in free throw attempts.
Third quarter, 4:38, Sixers 73-45: The three players Sixers fans most want their team to trade showed why, under no circumstances, should the team trade any of them.
Brand, Iguodala and Turner combined for 49 points as Philly built a 28-point lead. And it’s growing.
Halftime, Sixers 55-33: Well, that couldn’t have gone any worse for the Celtics. The Sixers won the rebounding battle 31-15, shot 52 percent from the floor compared to the Celtics’ 34 percent, and committed only five turnovers.
The Good: If Sixers fans really want to trade Evan Turner, the Celtics would gladly take him off their hands. The Ohio State alum scored 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting in the first half while adding eight rebounds in 21 minutes. … Elton Brand’s contract may be an albatross, but aside from his deal there’s not much to dislike about him. Brand hit six of his seven shots and glided into halftime with 12 points. … Andre Iguodala is a triple-double threat night in and night out, and he got off to a good start. The lockdown defender held Pierce to 3-for-7 shooting and had eight points, five rebounds and four assists in the first half.
The Bad: Everyone on the Celtics.
The So-so: Lavoy Allen, a rookie center from Temple, came off the bench to give the Sixers six rebounds in 11 minutes. He averages only 5.1 points per game and went scoreless in the first half of this game, but he clearly knows his role.
Second quarter, 4:30, Sixers 47-21: The Celtics can’t call a timeout every time the Sixers score a bunch of points in a row. They only have so many timeouts.
The Sixers surged to a 26-point lead thanks to a 12-0 run spurred by Williams’ shooting and Turner’s aggression getting into the lane. Jrue Holiday, arguably the most talented but quietest thus far of the Sixers’ backcourt players, drained a 3 on only his second basket of the game.
Second quarter, 5:46, Sixers 40-21: Somebody finally scored, and of course it was Greg Stiemsma.
Funny game, isn’t it?
Turner continued to twist into the lane whenever he wanted, and super reserve Lou Williams got heated up as well. Williams shook off Bradley’s defense for a 3-pointer and then drew a shooting foul, draining both freebies.
Williams is a dangerous scorer when hot, so the Celtics would be wise to cool him off sooner rather than later.
Second quarter, 8:59, Sixers 33-17: Both these teams are among the league’s best defensively, but this was ridiculous. Neither team scored a point in the first three minutes of the second quarter, although the Sixers continued to dominate the boards at a 20-11 clip.
End of first quarter, Sixers 33-17: Unless there’s a time machine in the Celtics locker room, Boston will have difficulty keeping up with the running Sixers.
The much younger and much more athletic Sixers allowed the Celtics to stay close for a while, but took off after Chris Wilcox hit a short jumper to pull the Celtics within five points at 20-15. Philadelphia scored the next 13 points, drawing their lead to 18 until Avery Bradley made a strong defensive play to facilitate a fastbreak layup by Keyon Dooing with four-tenths of a second on the first-quarter clock.
Turner ran that first quarter, leading the Sixers with 10 points and six rebounds.
First quarter, 2:33, Sixers 24-15: Iguodala has gotten beaten up in the realm of public opinion over the years, but Sixers fans seem to finally be embracing what they have in the veteran forward out of Arizona.
Iguodala is every bit as good a defender on the wing as Kevin Garnett is in the post — and Garnett is an all-time great defender. Iguodala’s six points, four rebounds and three assists are just a bonus to what he does on the defensive end. Paul Pierce, who tends to look the referee’s way after every shot he misses, hasn’t even bothered to complain for a foul after his two misses so far. Not even Pierce can complain about Iggy’s defense.
First quarter, 5:05, Sixers 20-11: Second-year guard Evan Turner has faced an odd pairing in the last week. He was given a starting spot and saw his name included in trade reports, although none of those reports seemed serious.
Turner seemed perfectly fine in the opening minutes, scoring four points and grabing three rebounds. He used a behind-the-back dribble to beat Rajon Rondo at halfcourt and tossed a perfect alley-oop pass to Andre Iguodala as the Sixers took a nine-point lead.
The Sixers are way more athletic than the Celtics, which isn’t a surprise, but seeing their speed alongside the lumbering C’s is still jarring.
6:50 p.m.: Thaddeus Young, one of two bench players who could be considered for Sixth Man of the Year, will miss this game with a reported respiratory tract infection. Hopefully he stays far, far away from the proceedings and doesn’t give anything to the able-bodied players on either side.
Lou Williams, the only bench player in the NBA who leads his team in points, will be ready to come off the bench, though. That should make for an interesting second-unit battle between the offensive-minded Williams and the defensive-minded Avery Bradley.
Tony Battie will start at center, where the loss of Spencer Hawes has greatly hampered the Sixers. Hawes, an excellent defender and passer, has been limited to 14 games this season due to persistent Achilles problems.
The projected starting lineups appear below.
8 a.m.: The games begin to matter a little bit more now. The Celtics, who returned from the All-Star break refreshed, visit the 76ers on Wednesday in a game with major playoff-seeding implications.
The two teams are tied in the loss column with 17 apiece. The Sixers are currently listed ahead of the Celtics in most standings due to a superior win percentage, but the Celtics actually hold the tiebreaker with a better division record. And win percentage is meaningless, since all it means is that the Sixers have played more games.
The team that wins Wednesday takes a one-game advantage in the loss column and takes a leg up in the first divisional tiebreaker, which is head-to-head record.
The Celtics open a stretch in which nine of their next 10 games will be on the road. At the same time, they have tightened their rotation from 11 players to only nine players, realizing that keeping bodies fresh now must take a backseat to winning games.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which is set for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
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