Keys to the Game

Keys to the Game: Celtics 116, 76ers 108

Key Moment
Key Player
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night

Key Moment

Isaiah Thomas got it started. Marcus Smart ended it.

Thomas, criticized often for his defensive abilities, changed Wednesday night’s Celtics-Sixers matchup with a fine defensive play.

The game was knotted up at 101-101 with less than five minutes to go. Thomas closed out hard on Robert Covington to prevent a 3-point attempt, then Covington, who surely thought he’d have had an open look, tried to drive past Thomas. The 5-foot-9 point guard stayed right in front of him and bodied him up along the way.

Thomas’ tight defense wound up forcing Covington to turn the ball over right into Al Horford’s hands. On Boston’s ensuing possession, No. 4 split the defense off of a pick-and-roll and dropped in a left-handed layup to give the C’s a 103-101 lead.

Marcus Smart followed up IT’s defense with even more of his own, swiping away two of his career-high eight steals during the next two minutes. One of those steals led directly to a Jae Crowder layup, and Smart also swished home a 3-pointer during that stretch of play.

Smart’s run helped Boston pull ahead 108-101 with 2:55 left in the game, and Boston would eventually pull ahead by 10 points before securing its 116-108 victory.

Key Player

Marcus Smart “is playing at a high level on both ends of the floor,” according to Brad Stevens.

That, to Celtics opponents, is downright scary.

Smart has always been a great defender, but as evidenced by his career-high eight steals Wednesday night, he’s playing better at that end of the court than he ever has before.

One could make a similar claim when it comes to Smart’s offense. The third-year guard scored 21 points Wednesday night, marking his second consecutive game of at least 18 points. He has scored in double-figures in each of his last six games, and eight of his last nine overall.

Smart has rounded out his offensive efforts with impressive passing. He dished out five assists against the 76ers to mark his fifth game of at least five assists in eight games this month. His five helpers led the Celtics Wednesday night.

As icing on the cake, Smart also contributed five boards and a blocked shot during his 34 minutes of action. The Celtics outscored Philadelphia by 22 points while No. 36 was on the court.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 33 points, tying John Havlicek for the most consecutive games of at least 20 points in Celtics history (40).
  • Both teams scored 29 points during the first quarter, both teams scored 32 points during the second quarter, and both teams scored 29 points during the fourth quarter.
  • Both teams committed at least 22 turnovers.
  • Thomas made 11 of his game-high 13 free throws.
  • Marcus Smart grabbed a career-high eight steals to go along with 21 points.
  • Amir Johnson led the Celtics with six rebounds despite playing only 15-plus minutes.
  • Kelly Olynyk came off Boston's bench to score 16 points.
  • T.J. McConnell led the game with eight assists.
  • Dario Saric led the game with 11 rebounds.
  • James Young scored 10 points off of Boston's bench.
  • Gerald Henderson was ejected from the game after picking up consecutive technicals.

Quote of the Night

I told our guys to start on central time, and we started playing about an hour late.

Brad Stevens jokes about the Celtics picking up their game well after the opening tip-off Wednesday night.

Key Player

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