MCW carries Sixers to a victory over the Celtics

Posted: April 06, 2014

BOSTON - It seemed to be the theme around TD Garden Friday night as the 76ers and Celtics prepared to play. That was: "Remember when these were two of the elite teams in the NBA? Remember how great this rivalry used to be?"

The references were to the Julius Erving and Larry Bird era. But remember, it was only 2 years ago that these two franchises played a marvelous seven-game series in the second round of the playoffs.

Going into Friday night, this year's editions of the Celtics and Sixers had lost 39 of their past 41 games combined.

Their play rarely brought back memories of years gone by, as the Sixers came out with a 111-102 win, their second in four games. But it was a fun battle between point guards Michael Carter-Williams and Boston's Rajon Rondo.

Carter-Williams, playing in front of about 150 family members and friends in his homecoming, took the team on his back, accounting for 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting. He also collected six each of rebounds and assists and turned the ball over only once. He also had several key plays down the stretch in leading the Sixers to their second win in a row in Boston. The last one came before the dreadful 26-game losing streak.

"I watched him [Rondo] when I was younger, and going against him is great, just like going against any other point guard," Carter-Williams said. "It's great to test my skills and see what level I'm at. I still learn a lot of things from him and how he commands his team, just how he is on the court."

Rondo accumulated 11 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds, many of those dishes going to Jerryd Bayless, who led the Celtics (23-53) with 23 points.

Henry Sims continued his solid play for the Sixers with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Thaddeus Young scored 15 points and Elliot Williams added 14 for the Sixers (17-59).

Noel no Nostradamus

It came and it went and Nerlens Noel did not make his professional debut.

Last month the 76ers' injured rookie tweeted out "4-4-14." No one knew what the cryptic message meant, and the team said it didn't know what he meant, nor did it feel any reason to ask him. So many assumed that he'd don a Sixers uniform for the first time in his hometown on that date. Turns out, it was all probably just wishful thinking by the 19-year-old.

"He is not. He is not," Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game about Noel's playing. "Nerlens, as I've learned, is just beyond competitive. It is the single thing that I have fallen in love with the most. His athleticism is quite incredible, and his future and his hair are quite incredible. But his competitive spirit is just beyond attractive to me. He wants to play. But as we said from Day 1, there are just so many layers that he has to get through in order to put him in a position that we feel responsible that he can perform and not be at risk."

Brown did say "there's always that possibility" that Noel could play this season, but reading into it, it seems highly doubtful.

Off time

Though no one in the organization wants to look past the six game left in the season, having down time has to be in the back of their minds. Brown has plans of his own, but for his probable NBA rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams, he knows what he wants from him.

"Sleep," Brown said after being asked what he wanted MCW to do when the season ends. "After the season, for 2 weeks, I want him to take a deep breath, be proud of his accomplishments, reflect on what he's just gone through. People just don't understand for a college kid to come in and play 82 games, 48 minutes and four or five games a week and travel to Los Angeles and travel to Boston and guard Chris Paul and have to be posted up by big people when you switch. It's just a different world than he's used to at Syracuse. I want him to take a deep breath and get some rest.

"After that, we're going to talk about trying to get him strong and talk about the evolution of his perimeter game and just his ability to finish over people and negotiate pick-and-rolls. The first phase of it is for him to take stock in what he's done. He's had a hell of a year."

As for Brown, he knows exactly what will consume his time.

"I go straight back to my 9-year-old team and make sure that those young kids are playing good defense and learning how to shoot," he said of his son's team. "I'm being kind of serious. I will take a deep breath. This is unusual for me, because, for the past 5 years as the Australian coach, win or lose in a championship or whatever, you're straight on a plane to Perth or in China somewhere. Last summer, we went so late and lost in the finals against Miami and then this whole job experience, where I wasn't hired until August, but I was in the mix. This is probably the first down time that I have been able to take in a long time. So much of it will probably be spent, and I can't wait, in assessing the draft."

Ware extended

The team announced that it had signed guard Casper Ware to his second 10-day contract.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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