In a game that should have been a blowout, the Boston Celtics come away with the victory against the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101. This certainly wasn’t the prettiest game this year as the Celtics turned the ball over 22 times. Despite Boston’s sloppy play, they did a lot of good things on both ends of the court. The point distribution was great as five players finished in double-figures including Jordan Crawford who finished with 12 points. Defense was hard to come by, but the Celtics stepped up when they had to and forced the 76ers to turn the ball over 14 times. Tonight’s game could have been put away early if Boston didn’t play so carelessly, but let’s take a look at what they did right.
Avery Bradley was unstoppable on both ends of the floor. He finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is his defensive play and relentlessly running the fast break to perfection. First, Bradley did a superb job on Jrue Holiday making life miserable for him at times, and forcing him to take contested shots. Holiday did finish with 18 points, but was 6 for 17 from the field and 0 for 3 from the three point line. Bradley also ruined Holiday’s night by continuously running the floor and trying to get out on the fast break as much as possible. Whether it was off a miss or made basket, Bradley looked to run, which allowed the Celtics to get easy shots and made it hard for the 76ers to set up their defense.
Boston’s defense was subpar, at least to their standards. Most of the possessions Philadelphia had in the first half weren’t contested and they got into paint at will. It wasn’t until the latter part of the third quarter that the Celtics’ defensive intensity turned it up a notch. Boston forced the 76ers to take bad shots and only allowed five 3 pointers out of 21 attempts. However, what kept Philadelphia in the game was the second chance opportunities. Boston failed to boxout resulting in fourteen offensive rebounds for the 76ers, and second chance point opportunities. But Philadelphia was unable to keep up with the Celtics offensive firepower, and despite having so many opportunities to score it wasn’t enough.
With the Celtics playing tomorrow against the Indiana Pacers, Doc Rivers did a great job managing the minutes for the veterans tonight. Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett played less than 30 minutes, and both scored 18 points in the time that they had played. Pierce nearly had a triple-double, scoring 18 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out 7 assists, while going 6 for 10 from the field and shooting 100% beyond the ark knocking down all four of his attempts. Boston will need the same production from Garnett and Pierce if they want to steal a game in Indiana.
Just like last Friday against the Golden State Warriors, tonight was a team win, and they’ll have to tackle every opponent in the same way from here on out. There is a lot that the Celtics can improve on, especially the turnovers, but there are definitely positives they can build on and perfect over the next few weeks. Ball movement, defense, and taking the ball to the hoop propelled Boston to the win tonight, and if they want to beat the Pacers, they’ll have to do the same tomorrow.