BOSTON – Brad Stevens warned the media prior to Friday’s game about how the Philadelphia 76ers are a much-improved team.
It looks like his players didn’t get the memo as the Sixers spent a good chunk of the first half playing with a lead as the half ended with Boston down 62-51.
Philadelphia’s superior size on the frontcourt was certainly a problem most of the first half, and it manifested itself by the Sixers’ decisive edge (30-6) in points in the paint. Philadelphia out-performed Boston in fast-break points (12-6) as well.
The deficit stood at 14 points for the Celtics before Marcus Smart made a pair of free throws for the final points of the half.
The Celtics fell behind early, but led by as many as six points behind a 10-4 surge in the middle of the first which put them ahead 23-17.
But the Sixers closed out the quarter by scoring six of the quarter’s last eight points to trim Boston’s lead after the first quarter down to just 25-23.
The Sixers’ strong play continued in the second quarter, one in which they went ahead by 10 points (52-42) for their first double digit lead of the night.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.
He didn’t play major minutes, but was very much a major headache for the Celtics. He led the Sixers with 17 points in just 14 minutes while shooting 5-for-8 from the field.
Like Embiid, Ilyasova was extremely efficient in the minutes he was on the floor through two quarters of play. He had 11 points in 14 minutes on 4-for-7 shooting with three assists.
Most of his damage came in the first quarter which is when he scored all 14 of his first-half points.
Thomas had 12 points while shooting 3-for-6 from the field as most of his points came on 5-for-6 shooting from the free throw line.
Brad Stevens can’t be happy with the way his team has handled the ball in the first half. Boston commits 12.4 turnovers per game which ranks fifth in the league in fewest turnovers per game. On Friday, Boston had turned the ball over 11 times which led to 13 points for the Sixers.