Instant Replay: Sixers 95, Celtics 94

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Instant Replay: Sixers 95, Celtics 94

BOX SCORE

BOSTON – The Sixers made sure their first meeting this season with the division rival Boston Celtics was an interesting one.

Evan Turner hit a tough layup in the lane at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 95-94 win over the Celtics. The win snapped a three-game skid for the Sixers and moved their record to 15-31.

Turning point
Kris Humphries missed a wide-open jumper with 11 seconds remaining that would have given the Celtics a three-point lead.

Michael Carter-Williams tracked down the rebound. The Sixers opted not to call a timeout and pushed the ball up the court. After crossing half court, Carter-Williams flipped the ball to Turner and let him take care of the rest.

Turner drove around his defended and hit a leaning layup as time expired for the win. He finished the game with 16 points on 6 of 17 shooting.

Follow the leader
Spencer Hawes carried the scoring load for the Sixers. He scored a team-high 20 points on 7 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 6 from three-point range.

Thaddeus Young added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Massachusetts native Carter-Williams struggled in his return home. The rookie point guard had 10 points on 4 of 14 shooting. He did chip in with seven assists and five rebounds.

Second-year big man Jared Sullinger, freshly named to the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge like MCW, led the Celtics in scoring and rebounds with 24 and 17, respectively. Jeff Green added 18 points for the Celtics.

Stat-egic
The Celtics’ bench dominated the Sixers’ reserves on Wednesday. Boston won the bench battle, 38-20.

Take a bow
James Anderson had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. He was 5 of 7 from the floor in the game.

What’s next?
The Sixers return home to face the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

The Hawks are fourth in the Eastern Conference at 23-21, despite leading scorer Al Horford being out for the season with a torn right pectoral muscle.

Point guard Jeff Teague has more than picked up the slack, averaging 16.2 points and 7.3 assists a game.

Former Sixers Lou Williams, Elton Brand and Kyle Korver will be at the Wells Fargo Center to face their former team. Korver averages 12.0 points per game and is shooting 46.1 percent from three-point range. Williams comes off the bench to average 9.6 points a game. Brand is putting up 4.1 points and 3.8 boards a night.

The Hawks beat the Sixers 113-103 on Nov. 15 at Phillips Arena.

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.