The Boston Celtics extended their winning streak to four games with a gritty 116-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Boston struggled to maintain possession, as it committed a whopping 22 turnovers. However, strong offensive nights from Isaiah Thomas (33 points) and Marcus Smart (21 points) helped the Celtics overcome their mistakes. Smart also registered eight steals in the game, one shy of a Celtics’ record.
Jae Crowder (18 points) and Kelly Olynyk (16 points, 8 rebounds) also had solid nights for the C’s. Dario Saric posted a double-double for the 76ers with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
With the win, Boston improves to 37-19, while Philadelphia drops to 21-35.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Al Horford
KEY PLAYERS SIDELINED
Both squads were without regular starters Wednesday night. Avery Bradley was sidelined yet again with an Achilles injury, while rookie sensation Joel Embiid’s knee injury kept him out of the 76ers’ lineup.
THOMAS GETS JERSEY
The Celtics will be well represented at the NBA All-Star game in New Orleans this weekend, as Brad Stevens will coach the Eastern Conference and Thomas will come off the bench. Prior to tip-off, IT received his All-Star jersey.
C’s REBOUND FROM ROUGH START
The Celtics came out rather flat. The 76ers got out to a quick 6-0 lead after Boston turned the ball over three times in the first two minutes. The Celtics recovered, though, as the score was locked at 29-29 after one quarter.
The C’s relied on their primary scorers in the opening frame. Thomas posted 11 points in the first 12 minutes, nine of which came from beyond the arc, while Crowder contributed 10 points. Robert Covington was the main source of offense for Philadelphia to start the game, scoring 11 points in the first quarter. The Celtics were lucky to have the score tied after the first stanza, though, as they surrendered seven turnovers in the opening quarter.
TIED AT THE BREAK
The back-and-forth action in the first half translated into a tie score at the break, as the teams were locked at 61-61 after two quarters. The Celtics received quality halves from their role players, namely Olynyk and Smart. Olynyk contributed 13 points, as well as four rebounds and an assist. Smart arguably had the most well-rounded stat line of any Celtics player at the break with nine points, four assists and three rebounds.
Despite the absence of Embiid, Philadelphia still held the rebounding advantage over Boston after one half, 23-19. Thomas and Covington were tied for the halftime scoring lead with 18 points apiece.
BOSTON CAN’T PULL AWAY
Boston came out strong in the second half, going on a 12-2 run to take a 73-63 lead just 3:30 into the third quarter. The Celtics would extend their lead to as large as 14 points, but the 76ers cut the deficit to 87-79 heading into the fourth quarter.
The C’s posted a respectable 47.5 shooting percentage through three quarters, but turnovers continued to plague them. Going into the final quarter, Boston gave the ball away an alarming 17 times. A lackluster free-throw shooting performance prevented the Celtics from pulling away as well. Through three quarters, Boston only converted on 18 of 25 attempts from the charity stripe.
CELTICS SHUT THE DOOR
The 76ers rallied to open the fourth quarter, taking a 94-93 lead with eight minutes remaining. The teams would go back-and-forth for much of the quarter, but Smart hit a clutch 3-pointer with just under four minutes remaining to extend the Celtics’ lead to five.
Boston wouldn’t look back from there, holding Philadelphia to just seven points in the final five minutes of the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Rozier rises up.
The C’s will travel to Chicago for a Thursday night matchup with the Bulls in their last game before the NBA All-Star break. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images