Tank Wars Part Two: Behind Enemy Lines
The Celtics exacted revenge on the Sixers, winning 114-108 in Philadelphia. This comes less than a week after losing their last matchup on an Evan Turner buzzer beater.
Tonight’s first quarter started with a Celtics’ 24-second violation and ended with a fumbled fast break by the Sixers. Everything in between? Fast.
It seemed as though the referees informed both teams of a rule change, something along the lines of a new 10-second shot clock, because neither team wasted any time in hoisting shots in the early going. That approach actually benefited the Celtics, who led 34-23 after the first — thanks to 12 points from Bradley and seven from Green.
The pace in the second quarter slowed considerably, and unsurprisingly, the Celtics surrendered the lead around the four-minute mark — but a flashy alley-oop finish and a made three both from Jeff Green helped push the lead back to seven. Philly’s Thaddeus Young was a tough cover, scoring easily inside and out (2-3 from three at halftime). Entering the half, he led the Sixers in scoring with 14 points, and Spencers Hawes led all players with 10 rebounds.
Question (and excuse my draft impatience): with Thaddeus Young at 25 years old, and Nerlens Noel still in their back pocket, would Philadelphia pass on a guy like Embiid (assuming he declares) and draft Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins? If so, is that a good thing? I’m all aboard the Embiid Express, and would love to see him fall in the Celtics’ lap — although I’m sure many fans would still rather see Parker or Wiggins in green.
Celtics led 56-47 at half.
The defense softened in the third quarter, and the C’s allowed 35 points to Philly. But not to fear: Jeff Green’s shooting stroke and aggressive personality decided that it would, in fact, show up tonight, and that helped keep the lead well-distanced. If you missed it, I wrote this morning about Jeff Green’s struggles, and how Brad Stevens wants to revive his offensive game. Tonight? Well, how does 36 points and eight rebounds sound? Green was a monster through the first three quarters.
Tony Wroten hit a ridiculous three at the sound of the third quarter buzzer to keep the game within reach 88-82. The thing must have been a 70-footer. Wroten’s story makes me wonder what Chris Johnson can do in the NBA. Both guys bounced around in the D-Leauge before getting picked up by rebuilding teams. Wroten’s been a nice (and cheap) addition to Philly’s roster — hoping Johnson gets a chance to become that here. His 10-day contract ends tomorrow at midnight.
In the fourth quarter, the Celtics were sort of hovering between a six to eight point lead, until a Thaddeus Young hook shot brought the Sixers within four with a little under five minutes remaining. But the C’s showed a nice ability to respond to Philly’s best punch, largely due to Rajon Rondo’s floor managing and rebounding. Rondo was the only starter for either team to not crack double figures. I’d say he made up for that with nine rebounds and 11 assists in 31 minutes. The Sixers had a last chance to get the game within one possession, but rookie Michael Carter-Williams dribbled the ball of his shoe, essentially ending the game.
A lot of good individual games to be found here. Green, Rondo, Bradley, and Sullinger were all great.
- Celtics shot exactly 50% in the first half (23-46), with 19 assists. Rondo had nine of those first half assists.
- Jerryd Bayless may only have a few assists with Boston, but an outlet pass to a Jeff Green made three was his 1,000th career dime.
- Jeff Green being aggressive. 36 points, 5-7 from three, 11-18 overall, two blocks.
- Avery Bradley didn’t play much in the fourth quarter, apparently due to an aggravated ankle injury.
- Bench had 19 points. Not really “gross”. Not great either.
- Defense as a whole wasn’t great: 108 points to a terrible team is slightly concerning.
Jeff Green alley-oop
- C’s won the rebounding battle 48-47. Not bad considering Philly’s size
- Both teams had 27 assists
- C’s had eight blocks
- Phil Pressey was a DNP
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) February 6, 2014
Celtics next game is this Friday, when Rudy Gay and Demarcus Cousins visit the Garden.