Remembering Evan Turner's best moments against the Celtics

Remembering Evan Turner's best moments against the Celtics
July 21, 2014, 5:15 pm
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For those of you out there ailing at the thought of next October's opening night beginning the first Sixers season in a half-decade without the on-court talents and off-court entertainment of one Evan Marcel Turner, you can now be comforted in the thought that he'll still be visiting the Wells Fargo Center at least twice next year. Evan inked a deal today to become a member of the Sixers' historic Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Celtics.

No terms yet disclosed about the size or duration of the contract, but given how ET ended the season for the Pacers--expected to be a difference-making acquisition for a title contender, he instead could barely get on the floor for a team that continued to spiral out--and given how late he's signing it, you can be he's not exactly getting Gordon Hayward money.

Evan makes a somewhat curious signing for the Celtics, who, like, the Sixers, are ostensibly in the middle of a long-term rebuild. The team is already fairly crowded in the backcourt, with rumored Sixer free agency target Avery Bradley recently re-signed for big money, Oklahoma State combo guard Marcus Smart drafted with a top-ten pick, and star point Rajon Rondo still under contract for another season. Even if the team sees Evan more as a small forward, they already have Jeff Green and top-20 pick James Young on the depth chart at that position. And if they signed him just as an asset for trade talks...well, the C's want Wolves star Kevin Love, and Minny has shown sporadic interest in ET, but it's hard to Evan as be the missing piece in any blockbuster deal at this point.

The reason that might best explain the signing is how much Evan killed the Celtics when he was on the Sixers. OK, he wasn't exactly Boston Strangler II--in 16 games (two of which came as a Pacer), ET has career averages against Boston of 14.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 3.6 APG, numbers a little higher than his career averages (11.1/5.3/3.2), but nothing to really make Andrew Toney sweat his legacy.

However, those numbers don't do justice to the number of big games and big plays Evan had as a Beantown opponent over the years. Remember this game-winner from early in the 2012-13 season?

Or this walk-off buzzer-beater from earlier this year?

Or this go-ahead bucket late in Game Two of the two teams' less-than-classic seven-game playoff semifinal series a couple years back?

Those three are the most memorable moments--some of the biggest of Evan's whole career, really--but he also had a number of just really, really good games against Boston. Only nine times with the Sixers did Evan ever go off for at least 25 points and nine rebounds, three of those times were against the Celtics. He nearly stole Game One from them in Beantown in that playoff series with his 16-point, ten-board, four-steal performance. The rest of the NBA community may see him as a punchline at this point, but Evan's presence still looms large among Celtics fans.

That's not to say he didn't have his share of crappy performances against Boston, as well. He was actually pretty dismal on the whole in that Celtics series--three games of ten points or fewer, including a 1-10 performance from the field in Game Three. But when you're a fan of a team that a player has a couple really notable performances against, you tend to dwell on those and forget about the, uh, more forgettable ones.

Is that really the reason Danny Ainge was one of the only GMs to put up his hand for this summer's predictably underwhelming Evan Turner auction? Maybe not. Maybe he sees Evan as an undervalued asset, a still-young-ish player with star pedigree who got better every season in Philly (albeit not dramatically, and very slowly). Maybe he sees someone who might be able to slot into a poor-man's-Paul-Pierce sort of role as a wing shooter and secondary playmaker. Maybe he thinks he'll slot in perfectly with Rondo, a legendary long-two shot-creator, as a legendary long-two shot-taker. Maybe he's just killing time and filling minutes until Boston makes their real next move.

In any event, you can bet Boston fans are grateful not to have their team playing against Evan anymore. And I can't wait for his first game in green at the WFC. Should be a memorable one, for one reason or another.