Notebook: Celtics find themselves out-muscled


Notebook: Celtics find themselves out-muscled

By A. Sherrod Blakely

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 Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

BOSTON – The Al Horford love fest continues with the veteran big man delivering yet another impressive performance for the Boston Celtics.

And this one?

Unlike his play in the preseason, Wednesday night's game counts.

Horford’s all-around play was pivotal to Boston holding on for a 122-117 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

CELTICS 122, NETS 117:

The four-time All-Star made several high-basketball IQ-type plays that in hindsight, were major key moments in Boston pushing its lead to as many as 23 points.

In the third quarter with Boston ahead 71-65, Horford took advantage of Brooklyn closing out too hard on him and drove into the lane. As the Nets defenders collapsed to take away a shot attempt in the lane, Horford swung the ball to Jae Crowder whose jumper triggered a 14-5 run.

Boston would lead by double figures until the last couple of minutes of the game.

“We have to keep playing the right way, for 48 minutes,” Horford said when asked about the team’s late-game collapse.

The late-game struggles aside, there was a lot to like about how the Celtics played throughout the first 40 minutes.

And a big part of that strong play has to be credited to Horford whose ability to help keep the ball moving allowed the Celtics to finish with 36 assists on 48 made field goals, the kind of opening night assist numbers that haven’t been seen around these parts in decades.

Horford was among those getting into the act, scoring 11 points to go with five rebounds and six assists.

To see him racking up guard-like assist numbers isn’t unusual when you consider he was third in the league last season in assists per game (3.2) for a center.

“Guys were moving the ball very well,” Horford said. “It’s kind of contagious.”

Said Crowder: “I never saw coaches clap on a three-second call. We moved the ball in the first quarter so much we got a three-second call. We passed up a lot of open shots. It just shows how unselfish we are playing as a unit.”

And while that selfless brand of basketball was on display at times last season, the addition of Horford seems to have taken it to another level.

“He opens the floor, he makes it easier for everybody; he’s always in the right spots, he’s a threat at all times,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He can hit the 3, hit the mid-range, and also post up so he has the full package; a guy that makes it easy for everybody.”