Philadelphia, PA -- The Celtics came into their Sunday early bird match-up looking to snap a 4-game losing streak and secure a season sweep of the Sixers. Perhaps most importantly, the C's hoped to start their climb back up the Eastern Conference standings which took a hit over the course of the last week. They'd need to continue the fight without both Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko who remained on the Celtics' sideline.
Boston was last at the Wells Fargo Center two months ago with Isaiah Thomas (averaging 26 PPG for March) leading the way, scoring 20 in a game that the Celtics won by as many points. Tonight, Thomas dropped 26 to lead six Celtics players in double figures. Though the game saw some defensive lulls and shrunken leads, the Celtics managed to shoot the long ball well enough in the fourth quarter to snap their losing streak and take their record to 40-30, matching last year's win total.
CELTICS - Avery Bradley, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger, Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner
SIXERS - Isaiah Canaan, Jerami Grant, Ish Smith, Nerlens Noel and Hollis Thompson
Opening tip went to Boston but the first points would be on a three from Philly's Hollis Thompson. The Celtics would get on the board courtesy of Isaiah Thomas on the free throw line. Jarami Grant and Thompson would make consecutive 3-pointer's to give the 76ers an early lead (9-4). The Celtics took their first lead of the game with Thomas and Amir Johnson adding 4 points apiece. They'd go on an 8-0 run including a midrange jumper from Avery Bradley. Kelly Olynyk was Boston's first sub, replacing Jared Sullinger, in the midst of a Boston 14-2 run. Marcus Smart entered the game after the midway point of the quarter for Bradley. With 3:30 minutes left in the 1st, the C's had doubled up on the 76ers (22-11) and Tyler Zeller would make his first appearance. Terry Rozier would soon follow. Elton Brand put the breaks on the Celtics' 20-2 run over an almost 8-minute dry spell for Philly, shooting 19% v. the C's 52%. It was a strong quarter for Johnson with 8 points and 5 rebounds. Boston led by 12 at the end of the1st and had allowed the fewest 1st quarter points thus far this season. Without a doubt, the Celtics controlled the pace -- holding the Sixers to just 16 points in the process. Thompson was 76ers' lead scorer with 6 points.
Olynyk started the quarter alongside Smart, Rozier, Zeller and Bradley. Sullinger would re-enter the game for Kelly after a minute and a half of play. A 76ers' 10-0 run led by Carl Landry managed to cut Boston's lead to 4 points (28-24). After a timeout at the 9:30 mark, the Celtics would see made baskets from Smart followed by back-to-back buckets from Sullinger (a long two and a three). Another bucket from Smart and the C's pushed their lead to 7 points. Hustle play from Johnson with his own put-back further inflated the lead. A technical foul on Brett Brown put Bradley on the line for a free one and the lead was 10. A Bradley three-pointer led the C's into the halfway mark timeout leading by 13. Rozier and Thomas would re-join Johnson, Smart and Bradley on the floor. Isaiah Canann fouled taking -- and making -- a three would complete a 4-point play for Philly. Despite chances to make this a closer quarter, Philly shot just 3/11 from the line. An Evan Turner pull-up jumper held the C's lead at double digits (50-40). Two from Thompson and an offensive foul call on Sullinger kept it an 8-point game. Another three from Bradley would be answered by a Landry jumpshot. Jordan Mickey made a swift appearance with 7 seconds to play. After a fairly flat start to the 2nd, a nicely orchestrated combo of points in the paint (Johnson, 12) and outside shots (Bradley, 15) brought the half to a close with the Celtics leading 55-44.
LEADERS AT THE HALF
Celtics: Bradley, 15 points; Johnson 12 points & 7 rebounds; Turner 6 points, 4 rebounds & 5 assists.
Sixers: Landry, 12 points
Celtics out-rebounded the Sixers (36-25) and were perfect from the foul line during Sunday's first half. Philly's Thompson would make the first points for this half, as he had to start the game. A Turner fadeaway jumper followed by a Thomas through-the-leg bounce pass in transition to Johnson for the dunk would put the C's back up by 13. With just over 9 minutes to play in the quarter, a foul call against Johnson on Jerami Grant put Johnson's foul tally at 4. Some lethargic-looking defense led to a Celtics timeout at the 8-minute mark. Consecutive baskets from Sullinger, Thomas and Turner maintained the double-digit advantage. Philly's Ish Smith and Landry managed a pair of layups but Olynyk would answer with one of his own heading into a timeout at the 4:30 mark. Back-to-back baskets from Smith followed by a three from Thompson highlighted a Philly 9-2 run. Despite a Sullinger 3-pointer in response, the C's lead dwindled to 7 points. Two free throws by Thomas and a Smart floating jump shot bumped Boston's lead back to 11. An express look ahead pass from Smart to Thomas on-the-run would bring his points for the night to 18 so far. A T.J. McConnell step back would seemingly mean a 6-point deficit for the Sixers, except Thomas made a quarter-closing, one-legged 3 pointer at the buzzer. Celtics lead would stick at 9 to close out the 3rd (88-79). Consistently high energy from Johnson (16 pts, 8 reb) and a productive Sullinger (13 pts, 9 reb) on the glass helped keep the C's up.
Rozier, Bradley, Olynyk, Zeller and Smart would start the 4th. An Olynyk jumper would jump start the quarter for the Celtics but an Elton Brand pull-up jumper left Philly chasing just 8 points. Made free throws from Landry would cut the Celtics' lead once more to 6 and shortly thereafter, down to 4 after a Smith-assisted Landry dunk. Nerlens Noel's first trip to the foul line on the night proved to be a non-factor with him missing both attempts. A floating jump shot in the paint from Johnson would officially make it a season-high night for him at 18 points. With 6 minutes to play the Celtics would hit the 100 point mark and lead by 7. A Boston 8-2 run included Sullinger tipping in his own miss in an attempt to shut down the 76ers offensive surge. Noel would foul out and put Thomas on the line, where he'd make both. Thomas assisted Smart on a three and then Thomas would make his own from 3-point land to push the C's lead to 15. Staukus would answer with a three on the Sixers side and after review, a Smart foul under the basket would put Smith on the line to complete the 2nd 4-point play for Philly. The onslaught of three's would continue with Bradley making his 3rd of the game. A Bradley dish to Turner gave the Celtics their biggest lead of the night at 16 with two minutes to play. Not to be left out of the three-point party, Turner sunk one from the baseline. Sullinger would tip one in to hold the C's lead at 15 and close out the win.
FINAL SCORE: Celtics 120, Sixers 105
Celtics: Thomas 26 pts, 8 asts, 6 rebs | Bradley 20 pts | Turner 17 pts, 6 asts, 9 rebs | Sullinger 17 pts, 13 rebs | Johnson 18 pts, 8 rebs (season high)
Sixers: Landry 26 pts, 8 rebs | Thompson 18 pts
Up Next: Celtics take on the Orlando Magic tomorrow night at the Garden; 7:30pm.
Follow Steph on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP Photo
margaret in the middle 3/20/2016 08:51:00 PM Tweet Edit