How do you know you are watching preseason basketball?
40% of the texts between my dad and I while we were watching involved Walter McCarty's beard.
The Sixers came into this game missing Nerlens Noel with an upper respiratory infection as well as their head coach and Luc Mbah a Moute who were both grieving with Joel Embiid over the loss of his relative. Celticsblog certainly sends our deepest condolences to Embiid and his family.
On the basketball court, we learned that if you take a few players and the head coach away from a bad basketball team, they don't magically turn into a good basketball team.
This contest looked to be all Celtics early, with the Sixers not even scoring until the 8:32 mark in the first quarter. One of the brightest early spots was Kelly Olynyk, who seemed to be a magnet for loose balls, made a nice block, had a nice assist to Sullinger and dove on the floor in transition all in his first stint on the floor. Is there a big man in the league who won't jump at Olynyk's upfake?
I must say, this first quarter was the first time I was not impressed with Evan Turner's play. He certainly looked to be pushing too hard against his old team early. I thought it was telling that Brad Stevens substituted for him early.
After a heavily Celtics dominated start where the Celtics went 7/11 to start and 4/6 from behind the arc, compared to 2/9 from the field for the Sixers, the majority of the first quarter was the two teams trading baskets. Toward the end of the first quarter the Sixers made up a little ground with all substitutes on the court.
Other random 1st Quarter thoughts:
Avery Bradley only shoots 3's that he might make. Jeff Green (despite having a much better start to this game) should only shoot corner 3's. Green looked silky smooth.
Thornton is good on one defensive possession and bad on the next. He is good enough on offense that I'll make that trade off.
The beginning of the second quarter brought us a Chris Johnson sighting and a run by the Sixers. Considering the lineup of Zeller, Sullinger, Turner, Smart and Thornton has some good defensive players, I was disappointed at how they performed on that end. Offensively, it was the Thornton and Jared Sullinger show. Sullinger had a very good second quarter on offense, hitting jumpers, posting up, making a really nice pass to Thornton and driving the lane well.
After a hard initial push by the 76ers, the Celtics righted the ship and the teams matched baskets for a while. When Bradley came back in the team looked appreciably better on both ends of the floor. Many of the other starters followed him into the game pretty quickly and the Celtics made a 16-3 run midway through the second quarter that put this game largely out of reach.
Other random 2nd Quarter thoughts:
Zeller played very well in his first stint on the court. He apparently has a hook shot with either hand (who knew?), had a nice "box in" on an offensive rebound drawing a foul, can shoot free throws... and then immediately got beat off the dribble by a smaller, quicker player.
Marcus smart wanted to upfake and drive and he wanted to pass... to his and the team's detriment. He needs to look for his own shot a little more.
Avery Bradley was on a personal mission to earn his entire new contract in this game. He ended the first half 6/8 from downtown. I was listening to the Philadelphia broadcast and they were talking about him like he was a Greek god.
Not a lot to write home about here, the third quarter displayed sloppy preseason basketball from both teams, with the Celtics ahead by 20 or so for most of the period.
Bradley forced a 8 second violation from the opening inbound pass of the second half, kudos to him. Although not quite as awesome as the first half, Bradley played well again joined by Olynyk and Sully pacing the Celtics to start the second half.
Zeller impressed the heck out of me again in this period, looking good on both ends.
Phil Pressey joined the game midway through the second quarter in what seemed obviously to be Brad Stevens tinkering with different lineups. This one featured Pressey, Smart, Thornton and two bigs. Overall, it fared OK, although Thornton seemed to be the only player willing to shoot on one particular possession.
If the third quarter wasn't much to write home about, the fourth quarter was equally forgettable. The refs swallowed their whistles, players went through the motions and everyone got home a little earlier. Pretty much exactly like a preseason blowout usually goes.
Of note was the same 3 PG lineup from the third quarter played a good chunk of this quarter and they did well on offense while struggling a bit on defense. Pressey made a really nice pass to Zeller during this stretch for an easy bucket.
Evan Turn was put back in late likely to try to turn around his poor night against his old team.
Sully continued a very good shooting night.
Before everyone writes in a W for the regular season contest on November 19th, remember that this is the preseason, and that the Sixers were missing important pieces for this game.
That being said, the Sixers looked extremely poor in this game. It is truly hard to measure how the Celtics performed given that there were so many bad plays and missed rotations by the Sixers.
Overall, the Celtics made their open shots and as a whole the team played very well.
Walter McCarty's beard is awesome.