Notebook: Celtics find themselves out-muscled

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Notebook: Celtics find themselves out-muscled

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

PHILADELPHIA For years, the Boston Celtics have usually been at their best when officials allow games to played with a high level of physicality.

Well, that's usually how it works.

But on Friday, the C's dropped their second straight, an 89-86 loss at Philadelphia.

There were several reasons for the loss, but one of the biggest had to be that the Sixers were the more physical team.

"I thought the game was called very physical," Rivers said. "They allowed you to be physical. I didn't think we handled it very well. I didn't think we played through contact very well at all tonight. I thought they were the more physical team."

And as Rivers knows, the more physical team usually emerges victorious when all is said and done.

"I knew they were the more athletic team," Rivers said. "But they can't be the more physical team as well."

Rivers explains late-game decision.

Leading by just three points, the Sixers called for an isolation play that involved Andre Iguodala who at the time was being guarded by Sasha Pavlovic.

Iguodala drove into the lane and scooped in a shot past Pavlovic to secure the victory.

The fact that Iguodala was in an iso-situation wasn't that surprising.

Being defended by Sasha Pavlovic, now that was unexpected.

C's coach Doc Rivers would have probably used Paul Pierce in that situation, but Pierce was saddled with five personal fouls.

"Paul had the fouls. We didn't want to risk that," Rivers said. "The only thing we said out of time-out, is he has to beat you with his left. We allowed him to get to his right hand. He made a tough shot. But going right, he can make that shot. Going left I'll take my chances."

Playoff preview?

The Sixers have lost two of three this season to the Celtics, but all three games have been relatively close.

In their first two meetings - both won by Boston - the victories were by a total of just five points.

With all three games being decided in the final minutes, there's a school of thought out there that nobody wants to see the Sixers in the playoffs.

"Eveybody wants to run into everybody in the playoffs, really," Rivers said. "Hear that all the time. It's usually the ninth team. Nobody wants to play us. Actually, they really did. They didn't want to play the eighth team. I don't think anybody cares who they play, I know we don't. I can tell you that. At the end of the day, we just have to play."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.