Sixers steamroll Celtics, 103-71

695442.jpg

Sixers steamroll Celtics, 103-71

PHILADELPHIA As the Boston Celtics clanged off one shot after another, you knew the C's would go into 'no excuses tonight' mode when all was said and done.

But the truth is they knew what happened, and so do the Sixers.

After playing back-to-back overtime games, the Celtics were simply too pooped to play at a high enough level needed to beat Philadelphia.

The Sixers, who hadn't played since Monday, pounced on the heavy, hardly moving legs of the C's on the way towards a 103-71 win.

Leading the way for the Sixers (23-17), who remain atop the Atlantic Division, was second-year wing man Evan Turner. He had 26 points for the Sixers who came into Wednesday's game having lost eight of their previous 10 games.

And the result, to no one's surprise, was a beating unlike anything the C's have experienced this season.

Put it like this.

Boston (20-18) was down by 16 ... after one quarter of play.

And at the half, Boston had just as many points (33) as the Sixers had rebounds (31).

The lack of energy was apparent at both ends of the floor.

Offensively, Boston didn't run the floor nearly as well as we had saw in their previous games. Defensively, Philadelphia had too many lightly contested or uncontested shots that to their credit, they made more often than they missed.

At the half, Boston trailed 55-33.

As bad as it was for the Celtics, it had the potential to be even worse if not for a sickness that kept key reserve Thaddeus Young out of the lineup. He averages 13.2 points per game, and is the team's third-leading scorer.

The focus for Boston to start the third quarter had to be on chipping away at Philadelphia's huge lead, hopefully getting the deficit down into the teens heading into the fourth quarter.

That plan, like just about every other one, didn't quite work out how the C's had hoped.

Instead of cutting into Philadelphia's lead, the Sixers began to crush the Celtics even more and took a 27-point lead into the fourth as the Celtics' core players watched the onslaught from the bench.

HOT SHOT: As a former No. 2 overall pick who hasn't exactly shined as an NBA player, Evan Turner has drawn some comparisons to another first-round flop taken with the No. 2 overall pick (by Detroit in 2003), Darko Milicic. Well Turner proved on Wednesday that he's a lot closer to being dominant than Darko, leading the way for Philadelphia with a game-high 26 points along with nine rebounds.

"He was absolutely wonderful tonight," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I thought he was the key guy in the game. It's probably why he was drafted so high."

IN-N-OUT: It has to be Ray Allen, who literally could not make a shot all game. Not that he had many opportunities -- five, actually. But to see Allen score just two points -- both from the free throw line -- while missing every shot he took is indeed a rare moment. It was nearly two years to the day -- March 9, 2010 against Milwaukee -- that Allen played in a game and did not make a single basket. He was 0-for-3 that night in a loss to the Bucks.

"I don't think I was ever in the flow of the offense," Allen said. "Offensively, we just didn't have a flow. I was just a victim of a bad offensive flow."

SUPER SUB: Sixers rookie Nik Vucevic was among those getting in on the scoring binge against the Celtics, tallying his first career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

TURNING POINT: Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday knocked down a jumper 12 seconds into the game. From there, the Sixers lead just continued to grow and grow and

BY THE NUMBERS: 8: That would be the number of 3-pointers taken -- and missed -- by Boston. It was the first time the C's did not hit a single 3-pointer since Jan. 22, 2009 against Orlando.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We know this team isn't 30 points better than us. I don't like to make excuses, but we know we're a better team than we showed tonight." - Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

C's edge out Sixers 107-106

celtics-isaiah-thomas.jpg

C's edge out Sixers 107-106

The Boston Celtics had another one of those nights when the defense took a lot longer to get on track than anyone with the Celtics could have felt comfortable about.

But they made just enough plays down the stretch to squeak out a 107-106 win.

Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 37 points to go with seven assists.

Philadelphia's Dario Saric, who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, missed a 3-pointer that was defended tightly by Jonas Jerebko, that was rebounded by Marcus Smart.

With 8.6 seconds to play, Smart made both free throws to make it a two-possession game.

Philadelphia's Ersan Ilyasova hit a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds to play, which led to Boston's Brad Stevens immediately calling a time-out.

Coming out of the time-out, Boston's Jae Crowder in-bounded the ball to Al Horford who was fouled with 1.7 seconds to play.

Horford made both free throws to seal the victory. With a four-point lead, Ilyasova hit yet another 3-pointer as the final horn expired.

Down the stretch, the Celtics were led by Thomas who scored 12 of their last 17 points.

After leading 90-88, Thomas scored eight straight to put Boston ahead 98-91.

But the Sixers were getting a career night from Saric whose scoop shot with 34.6 seconds to play tied the game at 100.

Following a Celtics time-out, Thomas continued his dominant fourth quarter with a blow by lay-up past Saric.

The Sixers, down 102-100, called a time-out with 30 seconds.

Philadelphia had three shots at the rim following the time-out, but the ball eventually wound up in the hands of Avery Bradley who was fouled with 16.3 seconds to play.

Bradley,who had 20 points and nine rebounds, made the second of the two free throws that put Boston ahead by three points.

After being tied at 74 through three quarters, the Celtics opened the fourth with an 8-2 run highlighted by an Al Horford 3-pointer that made it an 82-76 game.

The Sixers called a time-out with 10:22 to play, well aware that the game’s fleeting momentum was squarely in Boston’s favor.

Philadelphia didn’t fall too far behind, but the Celtics’ control of the game seemed to continue to grow.

Boston got back into the game with timely stops, big blocks (Jaylen Brown) and a bunch of multiple effort plays which collectively were in stark contrast to how things went in the first half.

Philadelphia has been among the worst teams in the NBA this season, and were playing without their best player Joel Embiid who does not play in the second night of back-to-back games (Philadelphia played Orlando on Friday night).

So without their best interior force offensively, the Sixers relied heavily on their 3-point shooting.

It was a good strategy that the Celtics had no answer for in the first half which was one in which Boston spent primarily playing catch-up.

The Sixers, who came into the game ranked ninth in the NBA in 3-point shooting (36.1 percent) and seventh in 3-pointers made (10.6), were a blistering 9-for-18 on 3s in the first half.

Meanwhile, Boston’s offense never seemed to get into any kind of flow or rhythm which was a key to the Celtics going into the half trailing 53-45 after having fallen behind by as many as 11 points.

At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

celtics-avery-bradley.jpg

At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

The Celtics are getting more than they bargained for against the Philadelphia 76ers who are once again, record-wise, among the worst teams in the NBA.

They didn’t look like it in the first half which ended with the Celtics trailing the Sixers 53-45.

Boston came into the game having won its last four road games. And they did so by playing solid defense, something that has been noticeably absent in the first half.

Philadelphia came into the game as one of the NBA’s better 3-point shooting teams and has lived up to the lofty ranking.

In the first half Philadelphia made nine of its 18 three-point attempts while the Celtics are way, way, way at the other end of the 3-point shooting spectrum while missing eight of their 11 3s with Isaiah Thomas making a pair with the lone other made 3-pointer coming from Marcus Smart.

The defense struggled, the offense never had any kind of flow and not surprisingly, the Celtics found themselves playing from behind most of the first half.

Here are the first half stars from Saturday’s game.

STARS

Sergio Rodriguez: His playmaking was solid as usual, but it was Rodriguez getting it going with his jumper that really produced surprisingly strong results for the Sixers. He had 11 points, four assists and a steal in the first half.

Isaiah Thomas: Playing his game which is shooting and attacking the rim, Thomas was Boston’s lone double-digit scorer in the first half with 15 points which is tops among all players.

STUDS

Dario Saric: It was a solid first half as Saric contributed both on the boards and the scoreboard. He had 10 points in the first half along with five rebounds.

Gerald Henderson: Henderson had one of those high efficiency-type games with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting.

DUDS

Celtics 3-point shooting: It was a miserable first half for a team that has been among the NBA’s leaders in 3-pointers made and taken this season. At the half, Boston has shot 2-for-10 on 3's.

Celtics defense: Boston has shown little to no signs of providing the kind of push-back they’ll need in order to leave Philly with a win. In addition to allowing Philadelphia to shoot 47.4 percent from the field, Boston also allowed the Sixers to knock down nine 3's.