Boston Seeks Payback versus Sixers in Philly
WALTHAM, Mass. – Philadelphia’s exhilaration led to Boston’s despair Wednesday night at TD Garden. Evan Turner beat the final buzzer with a seven-foot runner that sent the Celtics to a discouraging 95-94 loss on their home court.
Suffice to say that a week later, when the C’s and 76ers meet tomorrow night in Philly, Boston will have revenge at the forefront of its mind.
“I would think that certainly any time you get beat, that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Brad Stevens said following Tuesday’s practice. “When you get beat at the buzzer, that certainly is (a tough pill to swallow) as well.”
Wednesday’s last-second loss stung the Celtics not only because it arrived at the buzzer, but also because of who it was delivered by. Gerald Wallace and his teammates seemingly view Philadelphia as an opponent that they should defeat at every opportunity.
“That hurt,” Wallace said of Wednesday’s loss. “You play a good game like you did, you put yourself in position to win, but you let a team that you were supposed to go ahead and take care of hang around. At the end, they made the play and they found some way to pull it off.”
Boston will clearly be motivated to deliver payback as it heads into Philadelphia for the first time this season. Fortunately, the team will have some added resources to help it accomplish that goal.
Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley both missed Wednesday’s loss due to separate issues. The Celtics rested Rondo as they played in the second night of a back-to-back, while Bradley rested a sprained right ankle.
Rondo returned to the lineup on Sunday and looked like the floor general NBA fans have come to expect. He nearly recorded a triple-double with 19 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. The point guard is quickly regaining his rhythm, and he hopes to assist the Celtics in avoiding any additional late-game failures as the season wears on.
“Myself and the guys, we think it’s time that we can’t lose those type of games continuously,” he said. “We have to come up with some wins in those close-game situations.”
Boston righted its ship in that department when it held off the Magic for a 96-89 victory on Sunday. Rondo’s six assists in the fourth quarter played a big role in that win, but so did Avery Bradley’s 17 points and energetic defense.
Bradley is considered by many to be the top on-ball defender in the NBA. He is a pest at the defensive end and is oftentimes called upon to check the opposing team’s top scorer. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that if he had been on the floor at the end of Wednesday’s game, Turner would have never gotten a good look at the basket for his game-winning shot attempt. Stevens is one of many who would have enjoyed Bradley’s presence on that critical final possession.
“I’m comfortable with it,” Stevens said of Bradley defending players one-on-one with the game on the line. “I think he’s obviously a guy who’s hard to score on in that situation.”
Unfortunately for the Celtics, they didn’t have that option Wednesday night. Turner took advantage of Bradley’s absence and silenced the Garden crowd as the final buzzer sounded.
Turner’s shot sent the frustrated Celtics back to their locker room with their heads hanging low. Boston, with Rondo and Bradley back in the fold, will have an opportunity to return the favor tomorrow night when they visit the Sixers at Wells Fargo Arena.