|11.28.08 at 8:48 pm ET|
Last season the Boston Celtics added two All-Stars and got out to one of the hottest starts in basketball. This season the Philadelphia 76ers added one All-Star and still haven’t figured out how to win with him. On Friday night Elton Brand posed no problem for the Celtics as they dismantled the 76ers 102-78. This loss wasn’t Brand’s fault, though. The 76ers as a whole failed to help and the Celtics took advantage of this struggling team.
- Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined for 38 points (16-27 FG). Paul Pierce added just six (1-6 FG). “We ran a few plays for Ray, noticed he had the hot hand and that’s what we try to do,” Pierce said. “Ray is really shooting lights out as of late so the guys around him were doing a good job of getting him open and he’s knocking shots down.”
- The 76ers are looking to learn from the Celtics cohesiveness. “They’re a very good team, well coached team,” said Andre Miller. “They play well together. You have to tip your hats to them. We should take something from this and move onto the next game.”
- Last season Miller flustered Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. Tonight Rondo got the best of the veteran PG, posting 6 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds to Miller’s 12 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Rondo’s ball handling kept his teammates on point and his 12 dimes proved to be more valuable than Miller’s 12 points.
The Celtics (15-2) are leaving tonight for Charlotte, where they will take on the Bobcats on Saturday night. The 76ers (7-9) play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.
|11.28.08 at 7:30 pm ET|
Final score … Celtics 102, 76ers 78
- Take that back. Scal still had some fight left in him. He got pushed to the floor after attempting a reverse lay in, drawing a flagrant 2 foul on Speights. The 76ers rookie got ejected and Scal blew off some steam at the free throw line.
- Scal for three. Time to pack it up.
- Just got a text message from my mother requesting Gino and Cassell. It’s Gino Time with a 26-point lead but so far no signs of Cassell.
- Patrick O’Bryant just entered the game and fans are chanting “Scal-a-bri-ne” instead. Relentless.
- KG and Rondo are offering House advice during a timeout. Speaking of coaches, coach-in-the-making Sam Cassell is still on the bench but active for his first game of the season.
- Gino is warming up backstage.
- Like Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams doesn’t get a lot of attention behind Brand and Iguodala. But let this guy shoot and he’ll get hot. Williams has 10 points in 13 minutes.
- Scal nearly posted up the 76ers … nearly. Even though the bucket didn’t drop Scal still tried to back his way into the paint instead of settling for an outside J.
Both second units are getting minutes in the fourth quarter. I’m particularly interested in watching Marreese Speights, who impressed at Vegas Summer League and reminded me of an unpolished Al Jefferson.
|11.28.08 at 7:00 pm ET|
At the end of the third quarter … Celtics 73, 76ers 47
THIRD QUARTER WRAP: Garnett and Ray Allen put on a show toward the end of the third quarter, killing the 76ers from both inside and out. The Sixers tried to fight back by going inside (12 points in the paint) but that is no match for the surge by Allen and KG (15 and 8 third quarter points respectively).
- First it was Allen’s threes and now it’s KG’s dunks. Garnett has been unstoppable at the basket laying down jam after jam on former Celtic Theo Ratliff. Ratliff’s mega contract made the KG deal possible and KG is doing little to thank him.
- Credit KG’s monster dunk to the Celtics solid ball movement. The 76ers look lost trying to figure out who’s going to shoot.
- Allen has hit three three-pointers in as many minutes. All of a sudden he has 21 points, nearly half of the Sixers total.
- KG isn’t backing down after his one-game suspension. He dealt Iguodala a hit to the chest after Iggy scored, a bump that was noticed by Iguodala but not called by the refs.
- Think again. Allen drained back-to-back threes, pushing the lead back up to 20.
- Both teams are cold from long-range. The Celtics are 1-for-6 and the 76ers are 0-for-3 with six minutes to go in the quarter. Ironically, Ray Allen is the Celtics leading scorer despite being cold from the arc.
- Less than four minutes into the third quarter, the Celtics have pushed the lead up to 20 points. Rondo has four quick points and the 76ers need a timeout.
On the court at the start of the third quarter …
Celtics: Pierce, Garnett, Perkins, Ray Allen, Rondo
76ers: Young, Brand, Dalembert, Iguodala, Miller
|11.28.08 at 6:10 pm ET|
At the half … Celtics 46, 76ers 28
FIRST HALF WRAP: Maybe Mo Cheeks can light a spark during halftime but so far this has been all Celtics basketball. The 76ers have been cold in the paint (Celtics 24-14) and Brand only scored two points in the second quarter. Nine Celtics are on the scoreboard, with KG, Perk, and Ray Allen tied at 8 apiece.
- Doc has his starting five back on the court with 3:24 to go, up 40-24. The 76ers have their starters minus Young, with Royal Ivey in the game.
- The Celtics are keeping Iguodala and Brand out of the paint, leaving Dalembert as their only option down low. Dalembert is scoreless so far.
- This is only Davis’ second season with the Celtics but you think he’d know his teammates by now. Big Baby and Tony Allen got tied up fighting for a rebound … against each other.
- The Celtics came out swinging with a 10-0 lead to kick off the quarter. Reggie Evans only added fuel to their fire by airballing a free throw.
On the court at the start of the second quarter …
|11.28.08 at 5:45 pm ET|
At the end of the first … Celtics 22, 76ers 16
FIRST QUARTER WRAP: About that 76ers post game, it needs some work. The Celtics have outscored them 14-8 in the paint, with 8 points coming from Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics lead is a total team effort (six players have scored), while the 76ers are relying on Brand (10 points) for their offense. Kudos to Rondo for his impressive play without scoring a single basket (4 rebounds, 4 assists).- Rajon Rondo flat out took the ball out of Andre Miller’s hands. Something tells me he didn’t say please.
- Team chemistry doesn’t come over night, as proven by the 76ers. After a dunk from Kendrick Perkins, Elton Brand let Samuel Dalembert know his dissatisfaction on the way back down the court. Dalembert was sent to bench shortly thereafter.
- There is a cheering section called “Scal’s Pals” in the stands tonight, with kids donning red wigs.
- 76ers head coach Mo Cheeks said he still wants his team to run. So far tonight it’s the Celtics who are coming out running. While the 76ers are settling for outside attempts, the Cs are pushing the ball up the court to the basket.
- This season Glen Davis has taken over for James Posey’s pregame send offs. Reggie Evans handles that role for the 76ers, greeting each of the starters on the court and high-fiving his way down the bench.
|11.28.08 at 5:25 pm ET|
Anything Really is Possible for Pierce: Kevin Garnett screamed it after winning the NBA Finals. This season Paul Pierce is taking on the same optimistic attitude. In a rare chat with the media prior to Friday’s game, Pierce was asked how he could top winning a title, becoming a father, and watching his alma mater Kansas win the NCAA championship.
‘Kansas wins the title, become a dad again, and we win it again. That would top it,’ he said with a laugh, adding, ‘It’s a possibility.’
Pruitt in Need of Some R&R: Gabe Pruitt left the building prior to the Celtics-76ers game with flu-like symptoms. He was sick on Thanksgiving and does not expect to travel with the team to Charlotte for tomorrow’s game against the Bobcats.
Young Thanks KG: Among veteran standouts like Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, Kevin Garnett is paying close attention to a (literally and figuratively) young player. He’s had his eye on Thaddeus Young, and the second-year forward was taken aback by the acknowledgment.
‘It’s pretty good. He’s an All-Star player,’ Young said with his trademark smile. ‘It’s pretty big for him to say something like that so, you know, thank him for that.’
|11.27.08 at 10:01 pm ET|
On Friday night the Boston Celtics (14-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-8) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The 76ers were expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after acquiring Elton Brand this summer, but so far they have yet to pose a threat. The Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak while the 76ers have lost their last two.
In the last five games …
Over the last five games the Celtics have averaged the third most points in the NBA (108 ppg), the 76ers are posting the third least (90.4 ppg). The 76ers have the highest rebounding differential in the league (+6.33) for the season but the Celtics have outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight boards in the past five contests.
The match up to watch will be Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand. The big men have seen each other plenty of times in the Western Conference and now they are two of the best in the East. Brand gives the 76ers a legitimate option in the post, something they’ve been lacking of over the years, and they don’t have to rely as much on their running game.
‘You know they’re going to play hard, you know they’re going to crash the boards,’ Garnett said. ‘But having that range from the floor makes them [multi-dimensional]. They’re able to go pick-and-pop. Andre Miller can string out the defense a little bit and throw it back and Elton can hit all the way up to 19-feet jumpers.’
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has made it clear on several occassions that Andre Miller is one of his favorite point guards in the league. Now many are saying the same about Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
‘The problems we’ve had with Philly in the past, last year we struggled with them because of the Andre Miller problem,’ Rivers said. ‘You know, at the point, with his size. I think Rondo’s better suited to handle that this year, and so he’s going to have to.’
Rondo’s fearless hustle has garnered praise from teammates and opponents alike. He enters Friday’s game on a hot streak after scoring 22 points against the Golden State Warriors. See how Rondo and Miller stacked up in the past five games:
Rajon Rondo: 29.2 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 55.7% FG
Andre Miller: 36.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 42.3% FG
Keep an Eye On …
The obvious scoring options on the 76ers are Brand and Andre Iguodala. This season, however, versatile forward Thaddeus Young is emerging in Philly. Young is quietly averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds, catching the attention of Garnett.
‘A lot of people don’t really talk about him but Thaddeus Young, I think, is having an exceptional year,’ Garnett said. ‘He’s hitting threes, he’s been able to come off picks … and he’s aggressive. Just some of the games that I’ve seen, when they win it’s because he’s playing really well.’
The Bottom Line
‘I think they ran a lot more this year than last year,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘They’re good in transition with Iguodala but I think now that they’ve added Brand to the dimension, they’re more built I think for the playoffs. They have early struggles, I think they’re a better team than their record has really shown as they get used to one another, but definitely they’re capable of scoring 100 points. But we’ve got our work cut out for us again defensively.’
Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-76ers match up.