With the Celtics rested, Philly on the 2nd night of a BTB and Joel Embiid unavailable, this one had the ingredients for a blowout. Boston was too sloppy for too many stretches for that blowout, but the Celtics still won comfortably, 108-97.
Oh, Kyrie is really, really good.
The Celtics, particularly Al Horford and Jaylen Brown, looked out-of-sorts early and quickly fell behind by 7 points. But the hot shooting of Kyrie Irving (11 points, 4-5 FG) and Al (10 points, 4-5 FG) cancelled out the 6 TOs and Boston led 28-22 after 1.
The 2nd quarter began with a barrage of turnovers by both teams which was followed up by a barrage of fouls. NBA ACTION, ITS FANTASTIC!!! The 76ers slowly chipped the lead down to a single point when Irving unleashed an And-1 and three point bomb in back-to-back possessions. Mix in a Smart-to-Horford alley oop, Jayson Tatum triple and the Celtics whipped up a 10 point lead (54-44) at the half.
With the Celtics’ success in 3rd quarters this season, I started mentally prepping for that blowout. But Philadelphia started making 3s. Lots of 3s (6 in the quarter). And they also started crashing the glass, winning 50/50 balls and suddenly led 67-65 at the 3 minute mark. Boston responded with another scoring barrage (9-0), fueled by Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier. When the horn sounded, the Celtics had a 5 point cushion (76-71). Smart tweaked his ankle late in the quarter and hobbled into the locker room.
Smart returned after getting the ankle re-taped and his 7th assist of the night was a(nother) nifty dish in the paint, this one going to Morris for the 3-point play. Tatum showed no respect for the elder Amir Johnson when he emphatically waved off everyone so he could crossover the Big Dog and coast to the rim (video below). A pair of triples from Irving and Horford pushed the lead to 13 at the 5 minute mark. Ball game, right? Yup. The Celtics stayed in gear the rest of the way and won it, 108-97.
The Hot and the Not
Kyrie had 36 points on 12-21 shooting in 32 minutes. He nailed 5 3s and dazzled us with an array of lefty floaters, scoop shots and banks. Is there another guy in the league with a better off-hand?
Morris had 17 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. The 2nd unit was pretty solid tonight. Props to Daniel Theis for 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in 14 minutes.
Jaylen Brown was turrible: 2 points, 1-6 FG, 4 TOs and -9. I don’t believe he touched the court in the 4th quarter.