Evan Turner grew up watching Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce play basketball.
He was a fan of the trio, each of whom are more than 10 years his senior. If he had attended public school, Turner would have went to Garnetts alma mater, Farragut Academy, in Chicago.
When Turner played against the Boston Celtics last season as a 22-year-old rookie on the Philadelphia 76ers, he was already familiar with his opponents from what he had seen of them on TV.
Then the veterans introduced him to their game in the NBA. They tested the young guard during his first year in the NBA, a challenge he appreciates now.
Watching them on TV and playing against them is two different things, Turner told CSNNE.com. First few times we played against them, they kicked our butts. One of the best things is getting your butts kicked and paying your dues. I cant say it enough -- paying your dues and earning the right to play well and earning the right to play well versus them, thats the most important thing.
The Celtics took the 2010-11 regular season series against the 76ers, 3-1. One year later, they are faced off in a Eastern Conference Semifinals series tied at one apiece.
After averaging 8.3 points and 2.3 rebounds against the C's as a rookie, Turner is posting 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the first two games of the series.
Rebounding is all about desire, he said. If you want to go get it, you go get it. Thats pretty much it. Thats how I was always taught. I dont look at it any other way. I just look at as they expect me to rebound and I want to go get the ball, Ill go get it in any situation.
Turners defense, combined with his ability to hit difficult shots thus far, has helped push the Sixers, who are headed back to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4 on their home court. The first two games of the series have been decided by one point each, the type of challenge Turner is up for.
Unlike other young players who have griped about the Celtics intense style of play over the years, he is taking it in and learning from it.
One thing about them is, theyre going to play tough, especially in playoff time, Turner said. Growing up, you could tell they played tough, theyre willing to put their chin in there to get a stop, and thats toughness. Thats what you learn, especially when theyre guarding you, you can tell how tough they are.
Even after beating the Celtics twice this regular season and taking Game 2 in the playoffs, remembering how he felt last season during the Cs victories will help Turner during this postseason, and moving forward in his career.
They enjoyed it, thats what was crazy, Turner said of the Celtics winning. Last season, they just enjoyed it. They kept coming back at you. Paul gets going, he starts talking. Same with Ray and everything. They were taking turns on you, seeing how tough you were. You had to toughen up. The whole thing with them was seeing how tough you were. And if not, they were going to run right over you.