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It wasn't pretty, but the Boston Celtics overcame their sloppy three quarters of play to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 102-92 on Friday night. It was their first win of the season in three tries. In what was an ugly game most of the way, Terry Rozier (14 pts; 7 rebs) and Shane Larkin (10 pts; 4/5 shooting) had big games off the bench to help Kyrie Irving (21 pts; 6 rebs; 4 asts) and Al Horford (17 pts; 9 rebs; 3 asts) capture a victory on the road.

The Celtics and Sixers traded baskets through the first quarter, with each team's field goal percentage hovering around 50%. When the Celtics locked down on the defensive end for the final five minutes of the quarter, they were able to build a small lead:



One of the big storylines was the meeting between the No. 1 draft pick and guy Boston passed on, Markelle Fultz, and the No. 3 pick, Jayson Tatum. While they never really had to guard each other, Tatum blocked one of Fultz's layups and overall had much more of a presence on the court. The Celtics' rookie posted six points, two rebounds, and two blocks in 11 minutes of the first quarter, while the Sixer's rookie didn't record a single stat in five minutes of action, while also missing three shots (two of which were blocked) and picking up two fouls. The first meeting between Tatum-Fultz can really be summed up by this play:



To go along with Fultz's rough start, the rest of Philly's "big three" weren't hot out of the gate either. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Fultz shot a combined 1-8 from the field in the first quarter.

Philadelphia's slow start, combined with the solid play of Irving and Tatum, gave Boston the lead after one:



In his NBA debut, Guerschon Yabusele splashed home a three from the top of the key early in the second quarter for his first points as a pro. Although the Dancing Bear added onto the C's lead, he also picked up a quick pair of turnovers.

Jaylen Brown was everywhere in the second quarter. He knocked down a three, somehow hit a shot over the backboard, picked up a steal, and grabbed some boards. This momentarily extended the Celtics' advantage, but the 76er's went on an 8-0 run powered by back-to-back threes from J.J. Redick (12 first-half pts) and Jared Bayless to tie the contest.

The Celtics seemed very hectic and chaotic all half long. Their free-throw woes continued, as they shot just 5-12 from the stripe. They turned the ball over 13 times, and four of those came in the final 1:31 of the half. During that time, after the Celtics fell asleep for the final two possessions, another 7-0 Sixers run gave them the edge going into the half:



The Celts stumbled out of the break, resulting in a nine-point advantage for the Sixers and an instant Brad Stevens timeout. Stevens called on Terry Rozier to stabilize Boston's lineup, and he did just that. The Louisville alum splashed home a three, had a put-back floater, and rejuvenated the defense.

Despite this, the 76ers' shooting continued to punish the Celtics with Redick and Bayless converting on more perimeter shots. Meanwhile, Boston got ice cold from the field. Al Horford, who was not his usual self in the first three quarters, missed some bunnies that he can usually hit in his sleep. By the end of the third, Horford was just 2-12 from the field. The C's were getting plenty of open looks, they just couldn't buy a bucket:



Luckily, the Sixers weren't on their A-games, either. Coach Stevens' club managed to keep it close despite their ugly play:





Both squads found their shooting touches in the opening minutes of the final frame. Horford shook off his rust by knocking down a trio of shots, while Rozier hit a pair of his own to set the tone for Boston's fourth-quarter offense. These hoops quickly brought their scoring totals up to 15 and 14 points, respectively. Kyrie Irving carried the offensive momentum when he checked back into the contest by knocking down some big shots.

Shane Larkin gave Philly his best Isaiah Thomas impersonation in the fourth quarter. The 5'11" point guard came up huge off the bench for the Celtics, providing eight points on a perfect 3-3 shooting, two rebounds, and an assist to help Boston hold off the Sixers.

Everything about this game was ugly. The shooting, the ball control, the officiating, everything. Boston simply must polish their fundamentals moving forward but will settle with their first win of the season.


Next on the Celtics' schedule are the New York Knicks, who will make a trip to Boston on Tuesday night.


Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32

Photo via @Celtics on Twitter

Erik Johnson 10/20/2017 09:33:00 PM Edit
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