76ers hold off Celtics at the Bob Friday night
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 23:10
The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t projected to contend for an NBA title, nor does the roster boast any marquee, headline-worthy talent. But as 4,646 fans found out at the Bob Carpenter Sports Center Friday night, the Sixers, if nothing else, are going to run one of the most up-tempo offenses in the NBA this season.
Powered by 30 fast-break points, the 76ers opened their stateside preseason schedule by manhandling the visiting Boston Celtics in the open court and cruising to a 97-85 victory. Forward Thaddeus Young paced the Sixers with 20 points, while forward Jared Sullinger added 19 points for Boston.
After the game, Sixers head coach Brett Brown said playing a fast-paced offense will help his team groom its young stars into more polished NBA-caliber players.
“It’s not like we were going to dazzle anybody with more talent,” Brown said. “We knew we had to make it a track meet. We knew we had to come in with a great fitness base. And it’s the easiest way to score, and I think that the fans appreciate that style too.”
But for the Sixers, a combination of young talent and a high-octane offense led to 25 turnovers, three of which came in the first 90 seconds of play. Celtics guard Avery Bradley sunk a 19-foot jumper to cap an early 6-2 run for Boston.
And then Sixers journeyman guard James Anderson took over.
Down by four, Anderson combined for six points and one assist on the Sixers’ next four possessions to kickstart a 14-2 run that gave Philadelphia a 16-8 advantage.
Brown said Anderson, who is a former No. 20 pick of the San Antonio Spurs and has spent most of his career either in the NBA Developmental League or on the end of an NBA bench, may be able to rejuvenate his career in Philadelphia.
“He fits in with us with his open court skills,” Brown said. “He’s a good person, he’s got a quiet disposition and I’ve been with him a lot during my San Antonio days, and maybe he’s at a stage of his career where he’s gonna catch a break and move forward. I’m happy for him because he’s put in a lot of time, and maybe myself and the program is just catching James Anderson at the right time.”
Veteran guard Evan Turner relieved Anderson in the midst of a 12-0 Boston run highlighted by a 28-foot jumper from guard Jordan Crawford. The Celtics used their newfound momentum to take a 21-20 lead to close the first-quarter.
The Sixers came out shooting in the second quarter.
On the team’s first possession, center Spencer Hawes hit his first of three 3-pointers on the night to give his team a lead that would not be relinquished for the remainder of the contest.
Hawes said his ability to stretch the floor as a big-man is a valuable commodity within the Sixers’ offense.
“That’s what coach told me when he first got the job, to be ready to put up some more threes,” Hawes said. “It’s something I was really conscious of this summer and if I can add that to the other things I can do on offense, hopefully it makes it easier on everyone.”
Rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams reentered the game with 10:24 remaining in the half and established himself as the focal point of the Sixers offense. Up against a highly-regarded defender in Bradley, Carter-Williams was able to score four points and three assists in the quarter, including a cross-court alley-oop pass to undrafted rookie Vander Blue that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“I think I did pretty well,” Carter-Williams said. “I tried not to let [Bradley] frustrate me. I tried to get off the ball quick. I picked and chose when to go by him or not and I didn’t have many turnovers.”
The Sixers entered the break with a commanding 54-38 lead, but the Celtics still had fight left in them. Both teams traded barbs in the third-quarter, but Boston was only able to shave one point off Philadelphia’s lead.
However, as the clock crept closer to zero, Boston first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk showcased his versatility as an outside threat when he hit a jumper from the right corner to cut the Sixers’ lead to six points.
The Sixers we able to scrape together a 9-3 run to close out the game, as the Celtics missed four of their last five shots. Brown said the veteran leadership of Turner, Hawes and Young helped his team hold on for its second preseason victory.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Thaddeus, Evan and Spencer,” he said. “They are competitive. They really want the program to move forward and I greatly appreciate their energy, their leadership, their effort. The three of them have been exceptional.”
The Sixers scheduled Friday’s matchup at the university back in August when it announced its developmental league affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, would play their regular season schedule at the Bob. The 87ers open their season away at the Canton Charge on Nov. 23, and will play their first home game at the Bob against Canton on Dec. 8.