Celtics keep rolling, blow out Sixers, 103-79

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Celtics keep rolling, blow out Sixers, 103-79

BOSTON Sunday's game wasn't a must-win for the Boston Celtics.

But you wouldn't know it by the way they approached the game, easily defeating Philadelphia 103-79 on Sunday.

With the win, Boston (32-24) now has a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division on the slumping Sixers (29-27).

After a relatively close first quarter, Boston began to pull away in the second and led, 50-36, at the half.

The third quarter has usually been a good one for Philadelphia, which came into Sunday's game giving up an NBA-low 20.7 points per game.

Needless to say, that number will take a bit of a spike after the C's lit the Sixers up for 34, third-quarter points to take an 84-63 lead into the fourth.

At a time when teams are trying to balance staying healthy with winning games, the C's are managing to do both just fine.

Because of the blowout nature of the game on Sunday which came after a strong performance by the C's bench the previous night in Indiana, a number of key Celtics got more in-game rest than usual.

However, the Sixers made a bit of a mini-run in the fourth to cut Boston's lead to 86-70 which is when head coach Doc Rivers brought Kevin Garnett back in the game.

Garnett, who has missed a number of shots he normally makes lately, was among the Celtics playing good basketball on Sunday.

He finished with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Boston got another strong game from Paul Pierce (17 points, five rebounds) and a good bounce-back showing by Brandon Bass.

After scoring just two points while missing all of his shots from the field at Indiana on Saturday, Bass had 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting against the Sixers.

And last but certainly not least, was Rajon Rondo.

The 6-1 playmaker continues to play at an exceptional level as he finished with seven points along with 15 assists.

To put Rondo's night in perspective, he had nine assists in the third quarter alone which nearly doubled the number of assists (5) of the Sixers in that quarter.

But in 2011-2012 Celtics fashion, they allowed Philadelphia to make the game mildly interesting in the fourth quarter.

The Sixers trailed by 14 and had a chance to cut into the C's lead even further. But Evan Turner, who had a career-high 26 points against Boston earlier this season, turned the ball over.

Moments later, Sasha Pavlovic drained a 3-pointer to put the Celtics up by 17. Another Sixers turnover followed, which led to a breakaway attempt by Avery Bradley who was fouled on the play.

There was still another six minutes of basketball to play, but it was clear that Philadelphia could not muster up enough plays to come back and make the game close. And the Celtics were clearly in no mood to allow this game to become even mildly interesting.

And the seal-the-deal moment that this was over?

The appearance of Gino on the JumboTron with 2:28 to play and the C's up 96-76.

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.