BOSTON -- Last season, the Celtics sent the Philadelphia 76ers packing in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Sixers returned this fall with another young lineup, only this time these players were taking their posteason experience with them on to the court.
The 76ers beat the Celtics twice in the preseason and continued the streak with a 106-100 win in their first regular-season meeting. They applied what they learned from last season's seven-game series on Friday night at the TD Garden.
"Our game plan is to use our speed, to use our length, try to clog up the paint because we know they pretty much have everything," said Jrue Holiday (21 points, 14 assists). "They have size inside, three-point shooters, and they have guys who attack. We used our athleticism and speed, scrambling on defense to get stops. I think in the first half that was kind of how we blew the game open, by getting stops and getting fast breaks."
The 76ers jumped out 21-14 lead late in the first quarter and built the edge up to 16 in the second. The Celtics cut the deficit to four points during the fourth but were never able to get over the hurdle. The Sixers 57-45 first half lead was enough to stave off the Celtics 55-49 second half advantage.
"Just keep them on their toes," said Nick Young (10 points). "We knew they were going to come out and try to hit us hard in the third (quarter) and we fought through the turnovers, their runs, and we just kept going. We didn't get carried away. We stayed to our program and made some big plays down the end."
Years of experience aside, the Sixers are looking to take on their more veteran opponents with full force. They are not letting the names on the jerseys get into their head.
"Last year we took (the Celtics) to Game 7 and the organization got the right unit around us to keep helping us progress," said Evan Turner (25 points, 11 rebounds.) "Other than that, we're not intimidated, we want more. This is a year we keep progressing and every single games important. We dont walk out on to the court and say, 'Oh my gosh its Paul Pierce,' or one night, 'Oh my gosh, it's LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. We expect to win and thats just progression.
The Celtics and Sixers will face each other three more times during the regular season -- in back-to-back games in December and a game in March in Philadelphia.