By Kate Joseph
The Boston Celtics kicked off their pre-season with a win against the Philadelphia 76ers, 98-78, on Monday night at the T.D. Bank North Garden.
The Sixers narrowly overpowered the Celtics in the first half with the scoreboard showing 48-44.
Boston pulled through in the final two quarters to come out on top by 20 points.
This victory follows last season’s failure to qualify for the playoffs, the first time for the team since 2007.
In his Celtics debut, Evan Turner led the team with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
The fifth-year player took on both offense and point guard positions throughout the game; regular point guard Rajon Rondo is currently sidelined due to a broken hand.
“I think that’s who he is,” said Celtic’s coach Brad Stevens about Turner. “And that’s who he’s got to be. I think he can be better than he was tonight, but he played well. He’s been pretty good in practice. He was not as good in the scrimmage the other night and I think he was pretty hard on himseld, but I thought yesterday was his best practice and he followed it up with a very good game tonight.”
Turner echoed Stevens’ statements, with the knowledge that his variety of skills will benefit the team.
“I just think this is making the most out of my talents,” said Turner. “Sometimes I’ve tried to go as an off-the-ball player, but I don’t think anyone is a genius if they put me in a corner and try to make me a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter. Here they just play into each player’s strength and that’s about it.”
Brandon Bass also proved himself, scoring 15 points and pulling down eight boards.
“I don’t know why I wasn’t known as a defensive player the years previous,” said Bass. “But I guess when you’re on a team with Kevin Garnett, competing for championships, you get recognized for different things that in other places you wouldn’t get recognized for. But I always took pride in [my defense].”
Another key player for the team’s strong start was defenseive players Marcus Smart. Though the 20-year-old rookie scored just two points, six assists and three rebounds, his gameplay was essential to Boston’s triumph.
“Marcus’ value and what Marcus does to affect the game is going to be hard to find on a stat sheet in a lot of games,” said Stevens. “He’s so, so tough defensively and he’s one of these guys that I think will get stronger as the game goes along defensively. He is exceptionally hard to screen, and when the ball’s in front of him he’s as good with his hands as anybody.”
The Celtics return to the court on Friday, Oct. 10, in Toronto where they will face the Raptors at 7:30 p.m.