The Sixers could not duplicate last week’s last-second victory over the Celtics, falling 114-108 on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
Here are a few observations from the game:
1. Rondo vs. MCW
Though he was a half-step slow on defense because of his surgically repaired right knee, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo didn’t miss a trick. In a season-high 32 minutes, Rondo still saw every angle and his on-court acumen made up for his deficiencies.
Matched up against Rondo for the first time, rookie Michael Carter-Williams had little difficulty driving to the rim or beating the veteran off the dribble. The problem was actually doing it. Rondo was good at denying the ball from the rookie in the halfcourt offense while keeping it in his hands on the other end.
The result … Rondo had eight points on eight shots, nine rebounds and 11 assists while Carter-Williams posted 11 points on 16 shots with six assists and four turnovers.
2. Jekyll and Hyde
There are moments in every game when Sixers backup center Lavoy Allen does something that makes one think, “Man, that guy can play.” But later in the same game one will wonder if Allen even played at all.
Allen was active on the glass against the Celtics on Wednesday and showed a lot of energy in running the floor on the break and setting screens. A few times Allen was the target for the ball in the low post, which is interesting considering the Sixers rarely run post-up plays.
Nevertheless, Allen finished the game with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double in the last four games.
Tony Wroten smoothly and calmly dropped in a 58-footer from near the opposite hash mark at the buzzer of the third quarter. Everything about the shot was perfect -- the spin, the arc, the release -- that it makes one wonder how often Wroten practices that shot.
Based on Wroten’s shot chart, he might need to work on that long shot a bit. Before drilling the 58-footer, Wroten was 0 for 5 this season on shots from beyond the halfcourt stripe. Collectively, the Sixers were 0 for 8 on shots from beyond the midcourt line.
4. Swish, part II
Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson had an all-time quarter against the Sixers in December when he scored 29 points on eight three-pointers in the second quarter at the Barclays Center. Wednesday night, Boston’s Jeff Green flirted with a Johnson-esque quarter with 17 points on three three-pointers in the third quarter.
Like Johnson, Green was held in check in the fourth quarter, but for different reasons. Johnson didn’t set foot on the court in the final frame of that game in Brooklyn because the Nets went on to win by 35. Green played eight minutes of the fourth in a back-and-forth game, but shot just two shots.
Of course he made them both on the way to a game-high 36 points.
5. Rallying the troops
After scoring the first two buckets of the game, the Sixers fell into an early hole when the Celtics went on 15-3 run. The Sixers began to claw back into the game thanks to Thad Young taking charge of the defense. During the first half, Young could be heard barking instructions at his teammates to keep an eye on weak-side cuts and back picks.
After that, the easy buckets stopped.
6. Old rivals die hard
Though the storied Sixers-Celtics rivalry has waned a bit in recent years, we expect the heat to pick up in the near future.
Sure, the Sixers and Celtics are battling for the cellar in the Atlantic now but with both clubs in full rebuilding mode, the Sixers and Celtics will use each other as a measuring stick. Only two players over the age of 25, Rondo and Gerald Wallace, get significant playing time.
This rivalry will only grow.