AMHERST, Mass. -- Tuesday’s preseason game began and ended with one of the newer Boston Celtics doing what they do best.
First it was Al Horford scoring and rebounding his way to a comfortable double-digit lead early on for Boston. Boston lost the lead in the second half, but found themselves on the comeback trail behind rookie Jaylen Brown (8 points) whose powerful one-handed dunk followed by an acrobatic lay-up made it a one-possession game.
But the Sixers withstood the late surge by Boston to hold on for a 92-89 win.
Marcus Smart forced a turnover with 12 seconds to play and the Celtics trailing 92-89.
Following a Celtics time-out, Smart took a 3-pointer that hit the front of the rim and rolled out of bounds with four seconds to play.
Philadelphia called a time-out.
After the time-out, Smart committed a foul that stopped the clock at three seconds.
And then the Sixers did a very Sixers-like thing by turning the ball over on the in-bounds, providing the Celtics with one more shot at forcing overtime.
After the Celtics called another time-out, Jordan Mickey launched a 3-pointer that was off the mark.
Terry Rozier was under the rim at the time but was unable to corral the loose ball before time expired.
While it was indeed a loss in the record books, Boston’s start and finish provided legit hope and optimism about the Celtics this season.
Horford’s ability to navigate inside the paint as well as on the perimeter, was a huge factor in Boston leading by as many as 16 points in the first half.
And as the Sixers began to take control in the fourth, Brown instantly jump-started the energy in the building with a powerful, one-handed flush and continued to deliver highlight-quality plays to keep the game relatively close.
And while the outcome certainly wasn’t what the Celtics wanted, the final score in preseason games rarely has any significant value.
Folks are there to see the new faces do what they do best, and check out how much improvement some of the returners have made.
And Celtics fans were treated to both on Tuesday, well aware that coaches limit player's minutes considerably in the preseason.
Horford had 11 points and 8 rebounds but only played 15 minutes.
In addition to Horford and Brown, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid made his pro debut after missing the two previous seasons with an assortment of injuries. he played just under 13 minutes, scoring six points to go with four rebounds.