Celtics establish control early, roll to 113-96 victory over Sixers

Celtics establish control early, roll to 113-96 victory over Sixers

BOSTON – Brad Stevens decided to sit most of his starters for Monday night’s game against Philadelphia, creating a sense of uncertainty as to how his relatively youthful squad of backups would handle themselves.

Quite nicely, thank you.

Boston’s backups had no problem establishing control over the Sixers in the game’s early minutes, and never relenting in delivering a 113-96 drubbing over the Sixers.

The Celtics (3-0) will look to close out their preseason slate of games undefeated when they travel to face Charlotte on Wednesday.

For Boston, the win itself doesn’t mean a lot in the grand scheme of things.

The Celtics are one of the better teams in the NBA while the Sixers are improving, they are a team that’s working their way towards being a more competitive team.

But on Monday, they were far from competitive.

They were crushed, in every sense of the word by a Celtics team that put on an impressive display of dominance that you should expect when they face teams like Philadelphia that they should be able to dispose of with little trouble.

Leading the way for Boston early on was their starting backcourt of Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, who completely overwhelmed their Philadelphia counterparts, Nik Stauskas and former Celtic Jerryd Bayless.

Boston led 59-39 at the half, with Rozier and Smart combining for 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting while Philly’s Bayless-Stauskas tandem had 1 point between them and were a combined 0-for-9 from the field shooting. Smart had 12 points while Rozier had a double-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. 

The second half was more of the same, with seemingly everybody to step on the floor for the Celtics contributing either scoring the ball or solid play defensively.

Boston’s dominance also put on display the team’s depth at seemingly every position.

The one downside to Monday was the left knee injury suffered by Aron Baynes in the first half. He played just eight minutes in the first half and finished with two points and three rebounds.

Boston opened the game with a 17-5 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Marcus Smart – a phrase I’m finding myself writing a lot more than I expected, frankly.

Prior to the game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens decided to rest the team’s Big Three – Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford – along with Marcus Morris.

That meant the players who would see most of the action for the Celtics, were players who would be spending most of this season coming off the bench.

Boston opened the game with Smart and Rozier in the backcourt, with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Baynes in the frontcourt.

Despite most of those players being on the second unit, it didn’t stop them from delivering a first-rate performance that the Sixers were never able to compete against. 


Rozier: Dust-up with Bledsoe 'just part of basketball'

Rozier: Dust-up with Bledsoe 'just part of basketball'

BOSTON -- For most of this first-round series, one of the most intriguing subplots has been the war of words between Boston’s Terry Rozier and Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe.

It began with Rozier mistakenly referring to Bledsoe as “Drew” Bledsoe, the former quarterback of the New England Patriots.

After Rozier had 23 points in Boston’s Game 2 win, Bledsoe was asked about Rozier.

“Who? I don’t know who the (bleep) that is,” Bledsoe said at the time.


And ever since then, you got the sense that at some point, tempers would boil over.

Their chippy talk led to some chippy action in the third quarter of Boston’s 92-87 Game 5 win on Tuesday night.

With Boston with the ball and leading 52-39, Rozier and Bledsoe exchanged a pair of shoulder bumps, the last of which, from Bledsoe, knocked Rozier towards the baseline out of bounds. That led to Rozier grabbing Bledsoe and tossing him towards official Pat Fraher.

After reviewing the incident, Rozier was called for a technical foul, and Bledsoe was hit with a flagrant-1 penalty that awarded Rozier and the Celtics two free throws and they maintained possession of the ball.

Al Horford was on the floor at the time of the Rozier-Bledsoe dust-up.

“Yeah, emotions are running high, Game 5, both teams are going for it and for our group the biggest thing is just to focus on basketball,” Horford said. “Keep playing and not getting caught up in all of that side stuff.”

Rozier readily admits that this series has become a bit more testy with each passing game, a byproduct of two highly competitive teams wanting the same thing -- to move on to the next round of play.


“That’s why I never overreact,” Rozier told NBC Sports Boston after the game. “Where I’m from, this is normal. That’s why I say, we’re out there having fun; two teams that just want to win. It’s all fun to me.”

And as far as the third quarter incident involving him and Bledsoe, Rozier shrugged it off as not being that big a deal.

“It’s just him being aggressive,” said Rozier who like Bledsoe, finished with 16 points in Game 5. “It’s all good; it’s part of basketball.”


Bucks none too pleased with non-call late in Game 5

Bucks none too pleased with non-call late in Game 5

BOSTON – We’re getting to that point where every call and non-call on the floor is magnified in this Boston-Milwaukee series because of what’s at stake. 

That’s in part why the Bucks were livid about what they believe was a late-game non-call that factored heavily in their 92-87 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series with Boston up 3-2 with a chance to close out the series in Milwaukee on Thursday.

Boston had possession of the ball leading 84-79 with about 90 seconds to play. 

The Bucks, frantically trying to get a defensive stop and the ball back in order to try and make it a one-possession game, kept the Celtics from getting any clean looks. 

And the result of that was a hurried 3-point shot by Al Horford that appeared to have been released after the shot clock expired and thus should have been a 24-second violation. 

However, there was no call made and the missed shot was tipped out by Semi Ojeleye to Terry Rozier who was fouled. 

Bucks interim head coach Joe Prunty said he was given an explanation for the play, but said, “not a good enough one. I was asking for a shot clock violation. I didn’t think he got the ball off, so I said, ‘that’s a shot clock violation.’ That was my discussion.”

Associated Press reporter Kyle Hightower was a pool reporter and asked the lead official Ken Mauer why Horford’s shot was not reviewed. 

“The rule states that under two minutes we are not allowed to review a potential 24-second violation unless the ball goes in the basket,” Mauer said.