Except, the cognoscente were pretty cognizant.
In their first meeting of the season, the coltish Sixers pranced all over the weary Clydesdales, 103-71.
It was the Celtics' worst loss of the season; their worst, in fact, in more than 7 years.
That means it was the Celtics' worst loss in the era of the "Big Three," since Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined Paul Pierce to create a perennial Atlantic power.
Maybe now, the Big Three are just Three Wise Men.
Thaddeus Young, the Sixers' most lethal weapon, was sick at home. He had to relish the buzzer-to-buzzer beatdown that validated the common wisdom:
Young guys suck it up.
Old guys . . . wear down.
The Celtics are 0-6 when the second game of back-to-back games is on the road. Asked why, Pierce replied, candidly:
"I dunno. Maybe old age."
"Just chalk it up as one of those night from playing with tired legs. We know this team isn't  points better than us,'' Pierce said. "I don't like to make excuses, but we know we are a better team than what we showed tonight.''
The Sixers' switch-happy defense flustered those old folks. Dead-legged, each of the visitors' first nine players shot less than 50 percent in the first half. The Sixers' starters shot almost 60 percent.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers credited the Sixers' defensive effort, claimed bafflement as to why most of his team's shots didn't quite reach the cylinder, but, finally, admitted, "It's probably a byproduct of back-to-back overtime games."
The Celtics were sailing along, but the last two wins cost them precious effort. As Rivers noted, both of those wins came at home, which is nice, but both came in overtime, on Sunday, then Tuesday.
"They played last night," said Andre Iguodala, three rebounds and two assists shy of a triple-double for the Sixers. "We tried to take advantage of that."
And they did. Rivers, for one, thinks the Celtics won't stay winless when the second game of a back-to-back is on the road.
"I would say that would change," Rivers said. "We're playing better basketball."
Perhaps, but they might never play good basketball in Philadelphia this season. The Celtics next play the Sixers on March 23, in Philadelphia, the night after they play in Milwaukee. It will be the finale of the Celtics' 13-day, eight-game road trip - a roadie that might send one or two of them into retirement. In just over 2 weeks, a 32-point evisceration might seem merciful.
Back-to-back issue aside, the game appeared to be a fair gauge of the teams' capacities.
The Celtics caved to some of the same powerhouses that took out the Sixers: Oklahoma City, Chicago, defending champion Dallas. They beat some of the same dogs, too: Cleveland, New Jersey, Charlotte.
But really, how accurate could it be?
Garnett, in his 16th season, played almost 79 minutes in the two overtime games, Sunday and Tuesday. Allen, in his 15th, played almost 86; Pierce, a 13-year vet, played more than 87 minutes.
Those were season-high totals in consecutive games for all three players.
Garnett missed seven of his first nine shots. Allen got off only five and he missed them all. Pierce scored 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting, but he took almost 8 minutes off from the end of the first quarter to the middle of the second.
When Pierce returned, the Sixers led by 19. The game was over long before he returned.
The Sixers, refreshed by a full day off, led by 18 late in the first quarter on 16-for-25 shooting. Nine of their field goals were dunks or layups.
Somebody left the oxygen tanks in Boston.
This is how it got to 18:
Garnett went up soft with a put-back, jogged downcourt and let Evan Turner get all the way to the rim for a reverse layup; returned downcourt and front-rimmed a jump shot, then again retreated in the face of Turner.
He then retreated in the face of the press; he was gone from the locker room before it opened for postgame access.
But not before it got uglier.
Consecutive offensive rebounds - stolen from Celtics with better position - led to the 23-point difference with 5 minutes left in the first half.
Quickly, the seven-point betting line seemed really, really low. Still, Rivers didn't see this coming.
Rivers spoke before the game about how his team, now healthy, found itself in "the best place we've been all year.
"The team . . . understands who we are. We're not there yet. We're really close. When we get there, I think we'll be really good."
In a benchmark game, they were not really good.
They were not remotely good.
They were just . . . old. And sad.
And a little bit smelly.
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