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BOSTON - It didn't matter who the Celtics' opponent was Friday night. They were beating themselves. The fact that it was the winless Philadelphia 76ers, whose point guard Phil Pressey was an offseason cut for Danny Ainge, just worsened the blow.
But when the boos started to trickle down from the stands, something snapped. Suddenly, Isaiah Thomas was furious with the idea of not running down the Sixers' throats. So Thomas came in at the 9:09 mark and unleashed fury on Philadelphia. With Marcus Smart out, the Celtics were missing the key to their offense: their disruptive perimeter defense. It finally returned in the fourth.
As the Celtics began to force turnovers - 7 in the fourth quarter - their transition game opened up. Thomas ended up scoring 11 points in the fourth, with eight of those points coming from attacking the rim in transition. But even with a few scores early in his fourth quarter rotation, Thomas couldn't close the gap.
The Sixers then reminded the world that they are the Sixers. Hollis Thompson's layup at the 6:16 mark would be the end of Philadelphia's offense for the night. Their only field goal from that point on came from another classic Jahlil Okafor jump hook out of the low post. The Celtics went on an 18-3 run in the final six-plus minutes to save face and perhaps avoid Mad Brad Stevens' wrath ahead of the Thanksgiving day off.
First Half Nightmare
The Celtics were down 47-40 at the half, but that barely even illustrates the dreadful experience the half full stadium witnessed. After an Isaiah Thomas basket at the 4:05 mark, the Celtics didn't score another field goal the rest of the half.
After a few minutes to recompose during the quarter break, nothing changed. The Celtics missed shot after shot and finally scored a field goal at the 7:02 mark when Isaiah Thomas checked back into the game. Every Celtics drive was met by a swarm of hands poking the ball away, while every long range shot found solace in the clank of the rim.
Can the Celtics survive without Marcus Smart?
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Survive? We're still tanking!
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