10/28/2015 10:10:00 PM
Based on tonight's performance, it is clear the Celtics depth will be its greatest strength this season. En route to a 112-95 victory, the Celtics bench led the way with 67 of the team's points.
The first half was the perfect example of how Brad Stevens' 10-man rotation will cause problems for opposing teams all year long. If one lineup is struggling, he will always have a second one to turn to that he has just as much confidence in. We saw that in the first half tonight, as it was the Celtics bench who stepped up and took command of the game early, never looking back in the process.
During the first quarter, the starting five of Tyler Zeller, David Lee, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart struggled to get into rhythm. The 76ers finished the first 12 minutes of play with a 26-21 lead. The 76ers shot 44% from the field, while the Celtics shot 35%. The 76ers also saw an edge in rebounding early, finishing with 16 rebounds (5 offensive) against the Celtics 10.
At the start of the second quarter, with a lineup of Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger, and Amir Johnson, the Celtics used their defense to retake the lead. On 50% shooting during the period, the Celtics outscored the 76ers 30-14 and took a 51-40 lead into the half.
During the second half, the Celtics did a good job of sustaining the lead they had developed over the game's first 24 minutes, winning both quarters en route to their 17-point win, and all of it was done without one of their key rotation players. With Kelly Olynk serving his one-game suspension for the incident with Kevin Love during last year's playoffs, the Celtics rotation did not skip a beat, as Stevens played 10 players 11 minutes or more, and eight players 20 minutes or more.
The Celtics were led by a trio of bench players, as Isaiah Thomas scored a game high 27 points in just 29 minutes on 10-19 shooting. The team's most heralded offseason signing, Amir Johnson, introduced himself to the city of Boston with a 15-point, 7-rebound performance. And Jared Sullinger, continued the strong play we saw from him during the end of the preseason by scoring 12 points in 21 minutes on 6-8 shooting.
For those who missed the action, there are two numbers you should know about, as they best describe how and why the Celtics came out on top: (1) bench scoring - won 67-15; and (2) fast break points - won 26-7.
Although it was only the 76ers, the Celtics defended their home-court tonight, which is exactly what they must do if they want to finish the season on top of the Atlantic Division.
The Celtics will take this win into their weekend matchups with the Toronto Raptors on Friday, and San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
10/28/2015 10:10:00 PM