Sixers race past Celtics

Posted: October 14, 2013

NEWARK, Del. - The dreary weather and Friday night traffic made it impossible to get to the 76ers-Boston Celtics preseason game at Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware any quicker than at a snail's pace.

Once inside, however, it was a regular track meet.

The 76ers and Celtics are both in the same position: rebuilding mode. For coaches Brett Brown and Brad Stevens, that means a ton of faced-paced basketball with not a whole bunch of guys who are very good right now at accomplishing it.

The Sixers did it a little better, and fueled by 20 points from Thaddeus Young, 17 for Spencer Hawes, 16 from James Anderson, and 12 for Evan Turner, they defeated the Celtics, 97-85, in front of an energetic, sellout crowd.

Brown's plan is becoming very clear: He wants his young, athletic team to get out on the break as quickly as possible, with one or even two players streaking down the floor when a defensive rebound is corralled. Many times, it worked last night. And, as expected by the coach, many times, it didn't. But he is OK with the mistakes, as long as they're "done at full speed."

Michael Carter-Williams did what you hope - showed signs he can handle the point-guard spot. In three preseason games, he has 16 assists and only one turnover. Turner, Young and Hawes gave no indication that they give any less than what is expected of them, and Anderson is showing a real knack for getting the ball to the rim. As fast as the pace was, Tony Wroten was still a step ahead of it off the bench, and Lavoy Allen did a good job of rebounding (nine in 16 minutes), though his conditioning still appears to be nowhere close to prime.

There are still a ton of questions about this team, but the goal is obvious. Don't look away; you might miss it.

After two games in Europe, the third was played on a college campus. The team bus left Philadelphia around 3:30, but the rain and traffic turned a 45-minute trip into one of almost 2 hours. There hasn't been a lot of normalcy surrounding Brown's team so far, but he doesn't see it as a detriment.

"For me, it doesn't matter right now," Brown said. "I like being with the guys, I like playing, I like practicing. I don't get as frustrated or think of getting behind as much now, probably because of my newness to the position and my newness to the guys and trying to just build something and pay attention to something and get something out of each little window. You get a few days off and then you play, and what we did in the last few days I want to see a carry over. We paid attention to just a tiny few things that we'd love to see happen in the game tonight and keep slowly building something, whether it's on offense or defense. I think because of that, the bus ride or Europe, that doesn't really worry me right now."

A comfortable win probably helps, too.

Both Brett Brown and Celtics coach Brad Stevens are in their rookie seasons as NBA coaches, but they couldn't have had more different paths in getting there. Brown, of course, learned for many years under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and has a sound resumé coaching overseas. Stevens, who will be 37 next week, skyrocketed to the NBA after a wildly successful career at Butler, which included two improbable Final Four runs. While the backgrounds differ, the respect is the same.

"I haven't looked at [the Sixers] a ton, because, obviously our focus is on us and trying to get to be as good as we can be," Stevens said. "One thing I will say is, it's very evident that they've taken to Brett and they've taken to Brett's coaching, and they play with a great deal of togetherness and are playing really hard. Obviously, I'm familiar with a lot of their guys, whether playing against them in college or seeing on the recruiting trail, because they're a young group. I have a lot of respect for the way they're going about things, and I really like what they're running."

In Stevens, the Celtics get a coach who has the reputation of being an inventive offensive mind. He has a fan in Brown.

"I think he was a great hire," Brown said. "He was a clever, gutsy hire. You understand it. Not so much his success at Butler, more his style of play, particularly offensively, could translate into an NBA system. I thought it was a gutsy, clever hire."

The much-anticipated debut of Royce White was derailed a bit as he picked up four fouls in his first 2 minutes, 42 seconds of action. He finished the game with five fouls in a little less than 9 minutes . . . Rookie Kelly Olynyk scored 13 for the Celtics . . . Temple's Khalif Wyatt checked in for the Sixers during the fourth quarter after not seeing action before that . . . Injured All-Star guard Rajon Rondo was working out on the floor a few hours before game time. Rondo is recovering from left ACL surgery, which he had 9 months ago . . . A late arriving crowd eventually filled up The Bob . . . The Sixers will host the Brooklyn Nets on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center . . . Brett Brown, who grew up in the New England area, said it was special to coach against the team he watched as a kid. "You couldn't help but watch them all the time. I'd go to my grandfather's house, and he would be sitting downstairs with a fire going and watching the Celtics or the Red Sox or the Bruins or the Patriots, a die-hard Boston fan. We grew up in that environment, and, being the son of a coach, I was always looking. I loved the New York Knicks early with [Walt] Frazier and [Earl] Monroe, and then how could you not love the Philadelphia 76ers when they got it going with Andrew Toney and Mo Cheeks and Doug Collins and Julius [Erving] and [George] McGinnis. I loved that part of it. I love basketball, but the Boston thing more from a parochial standpoint."


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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