The Boston Celtics for the third time in as many games come up short. This time the loss came courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers, 97-85 and it would have been more embarrassing if it weren’t for a late “surge” in the 4th quarter. Brad Stevens once again went with a new starting lineup, this time starting Bradley, Crawford, Green, Humphries and Olynyk. Boston was outplayed by any and every standard by Philadelphia and even though it is preseason, it’s embarrassing. So without further adieu, here comes the pain.
The First Half-
The first quarter wasn’t bad, like the first preseason game points were few and far between for both teams in the early going. While the 76ers also struggled out of the gate, their offense clicked before the Celtics’ offense did, which really speaks (Hopefully yells at Stevens) that this starting lineup did not work. The flow of the Celtics’ offense really began moving when Bass and Sullinger entered the game, immediately kicking off a 8-0 run to retake the lead midway through the second quarter. Sullinger, as it’s being expected of him now, scored in the post with a baby hook, made intelligent passes that may not have led to baskets but showcased his wonderful ability to see plays as a forward.
The Celtics led 21-20 after the 1st quarter but that lead was short lived as Philadelphia began to push the pace off of turnovers and absolutely demolished Boston in the 2nd quarter. A big reason why Philadelphia outscored Boston 34-17 in the 2nd quarter was
Rasheed Wallace, Charles Barkley,I mean Spencer Hawes. Hawes was repeatedly encouraged by the Celtics’ defense to shoot and he happily obliged, hitting three 3-pointers with no one within 5 feet of him. Hawes and the Sixers repeatedly and I do mean repeatedly beat the Celtics up the floor for shots at the basket. No chemistry, no happy Faverani moments and far too often, seemed like no effort for the Celtics in the second quarter. The Celtics trailed 54-38 at halftime.
The Second Half-
The third quarter began with a slight glimmer of hope, Crawford connected on a 3-pointer to cut into the lead but that slight glimpse of hope was crushed as Boston failed to get into any offensive groove and Philadelphia eagerly stepped on the gas pedal to maintain its lead. Once again, the lack of an interior presence hurt the Celtics as the Sixers repeatedly scored inside, but shockingly outscored Philadelphia 19-18 in the 3rd quarter. The 3rd quarter was littered with seven Celtic turnovers and kept the Celtics from having any flow on offense. After the 3rd quarter, Boston continued to trail Philadelphia, 72-57.
The fourth and final quarter, Phil Pressey ignited a small fire under the Celtics and got the other four players to play as team rather than individuals. Pressey impressed with effort on defense despite his lack of, well, height, he got the ball moving with the purpose to create scoring opportunies (MUCH different than simply moving the ball) and simply put, Phil Pressey just played solid basketball. Boston cut into the Sixers’ lead and trailed only by six points at one point but once again (get used to this Celtic fans), the lack of an interior presence and turnovers ultimately decided the game in favor of Philadelphia, 97-85.
Not a good game by any standards, even for a rebuilding team, the effort shown tonight was poor and I don’t say that simply because the Celtics lost to the Sixers, I say that because I didn’t see guys playing with the purpose to win. I saw players that coasted, players that were doing a chore of playing basketball rather than playing the game they love. I didn’t see the team that these players said they’d be every night on Media Day. The Celtics were beaten, not only in the final score but on the glass, on the assist column and most likely would have lost the turnover battle if not for silly mistakes made by the Sixers. Tommy Heinsohn noted that many Celtic players passed up their type of shots to simply move the ball for the sake of falling in line with Stevens’ offensive system rather than making plays that they are capable of. A few minor things to note, Keith Bogans injured his thumb in the first quarter and did not return, MarShon Brooks received a DNP-CD, which puzzled me because if you are in a game where you are struggling to score, shouldn’t you put a scorer like Brooks out on the floor? Jeff Green once again put up lackluster statistics but watching him closely, I feel as he’s holding back rather than playing freely. Whether that’s to stay within Stevens’ system or to make sure he’s healthy for the regular season, I do not know but to me it’s clear that he’s holding back. Another note on Green, he has been missing his type of shots, so if this is a slump for Green, there’s a good chance he’ll bounce back. The Celtics look to put an end to their losing ways against the New York Knicks tomorrow night at 7:00PM EST.