Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart said that the same-day travel and half-empty gym reminded him of his AAU basketball days.
Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty

After Blizzard, C’s Storm Sixers in Philly

VP, Digital Media

PHILADELPHIA – The Celtics were supposed to play the 76ers on Saturday night, but an extra day of practice -- not to mention a same-day 9 AM flight -- certainly didn’t hurt their shooting from downtown, or their all-around game.

Winter Storm Jonas covered the Philadelphia area in a blanket of white snow, but the local basketball team was overwhelmed by their opponents in the white jerseys on Sunday. The Celtics blew out the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center, 112-92, in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score would indicate.

With maybe a few thousand fans in attendance thanks to the blizzard’s impact on the Mid-Atlantic region, the game was played in mostly-empty gym. It made for an unusual atmosphere you don’t see often in NBA arenas. Players observed a recording of the National Anthem rather than the typical live performance, and Sixers staffers threw t-shirts into the crowd because the dance team stayed home. Despite the environment feeling like a scrimmage, the Celtics were on top of their game.

“It was very unorthodox for us. It felt like we were back in AAU,” Marcus Smart said scoring 16 points, 9 of which came on his 3-for-6 performance from behind the arc.

Smart, who also came up with four steals, wasn’t the only one who felt good on the floor. Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas each had 20 points, while Avery Bradley added 19 of his own.

“I thought our guys were pretty locked in today,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said. “We were active, into the ball. We scored it pretty Our spacing’s been good, our movement’s been good, and the last two games, we’ve been better defensively.”

The Celtics took care of the ball, took care of business and effectively took care of the Sixers in the first half. Knocking down eight threes in the first 24 minutes, Boston built a 58-43 halftime lead, and at one point had it up to 29 in the third quarter. Their 13-1 run to start the second quarter had the Sixers buried. It really wasn’t very competitive after that point.

The Sixers did cut the lead down to 16 points late in the fourth quarter, and threaten to make a run, but a Tyler Zeller layup and a pair of Evan Turner free throws had the lead back up to 20 points, effectively snuffing out any hopes of a late run.

Before the game, Stevens noted to CSN’s Mike Gorman that the Celtics had to take care of the ball, because the Sixers have been effective at forcing turnovers. But Philadelphia committed 20 of their own 24 before the fourth quarter, and the game got out of hand, giving the Celtics plenty of extra possessions upon which to capitalize.

For the all of the talk about Ish Smith’s recent impact on the Sixers, outside hearing “The Dish...From Ish” a few times over the PA in the mostly empty arena, you wouldn’t have really known he was there. Smith shot 3-for-12, scored seven points, and finished as a minus-35 in just over 25 minutes of action.

The Celtics, meanwhile, benefitted from the blowout by keeping their starters’ minutes down in the first night of a back-to-back. Crowder was the only player who was on the floor more than 30 minutes.

With a victory in the bag, the Celtics made about a 30-minute flight to Baltimore, where an hour bus ride awaited them. It was a slow, plodding drive to Washington, D.C., where they’ll play the Wizards on Monday night.


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