Keys to the Game: Celtics 110, 76ers 106

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

The Celtics can drop individual “thank you” cards off in Avery Bradley’s locker tomorrow afternoon. He is the sole reason why Boston downed Philadelphia 110-106 Friday night at TD Garden.

Bradley had his best game of the season Friday night, and the Celtics needed it. He scored 26 points, including 12 during a critical third quarter, to fuel an impressive Celtics comeback.

Boston trailed 76-67 with 2:40 left in the third quarter. Bradley had scored the C’s previous four points, but his next bucket was the most important one of the night.

Bradley, defended by Robert Covington at the top of the key with the shot clock winding down, channeled his inner Allen Iverson to get a look at the basket. He took one dribble to his right, then dropped one of the tightest crossovers of his career from right to left on Covington, shaking himself free for a fairly uncontested look considering Covington had been eye to eye with him just a second earlier.

Was this a shot most coaches would tell players to take? No. But Bradley had no conscience at that point. He had already scored 23 points on 9-for-20 shooting to that point in the game.

Bang. Three points. Did anyone expect anything less?

That bucket trimmed Philly’s lead down to five points and pumped energy into Boston’s players and their crowd. From that point on, the Celtics looked like the Celtics, something that certainly wasn’t the case during the first 35 ½ minutes of the game.

Kelly Olynyk gave Boston its first lead since the 10:29 mark of the second quarter when he drilled a 3-pointer just 64 seconds into the final period from the left corner of the court, right in front of Philadelphia’s bench. The C’s would need many more plays during the final 11 minutes of the game to pull out their win, and they got them, namely four big 3s from Al Horford that included the game-winner with 17.2 seconds left.

Without Bradley’s night, though, and in particular his 12-point third quarter and killer crossover, this comeback may never have even been possible.

Key Player

How about Al Horford? Silent, but deadly.

Horford didn’t make a ton of noise during Friday’s matchup with the Sixers. Until the fourth quarter.

The big man canned not one, not two, not three, but FOUR treys during the fourth quarter alone, including the game-winner, to propel the Celtics to their comeback win over the 76ers. He shot 4-for-7 from long distance on the night and scored 19 points.

Double-doubles haven’t been a regularity for Horford this season, mostly due to Brad Stevens asking him to concentrate on boxing out more so than grabbing rebounds, but he notched his fourth of his campaign against Philadelphia. He grabbed a game-high 12 boards to go along with his 19 points. Horford also contributed four assists and two blocked shots.

The real noise came from his 3-pointers, but outside of those treys, Horford was quiet all night – quiet but deadly.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Each team had two players score at least 20 points.
  • Avery Bradley led the game in scoring with 26 points.
  • Isaiah Thomas was right on his heels with 24 of his own.
  • Al Horford logged a double-double with 19 points and a game-high 12 boards.
  • The C's shot an impressive 19-for-40 from long range (47.5 percent).
  • Boston scored at least 25 points during each of the four quarters.
  • The C's won despite scoring only 16 points in the paint.
  • Boston outrebounded Philadelphia 42-41.
  • Joel Embiid led Philly with 23 points and eight rebounds.
  • T.J. McConnell tallied a game-high 17 assists.
  • Thomas committed a game-high seven turnovers, two more than his previous season high.
  • Marcus Smart came off of Boston's bench to score 14 points and dish out a team-best eight assists.
  • Gerald Henderson led all reserves with 18 points.
  • Boston won despite making two fewer field goals than Philadelphia.
  • The Celtics made 19 3s, compared to only nine by the Sixers.
  • Amir Johnson blocked a game-high four shots.

Quote of the Night

Brad Stevens on the Celtics having a rough day of practice on Thursday and struggling Friday night against Philadelphia.