Sunday, November 10, 2013
Celtics and Sixers exceeding expectations
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Information
Remember all of that talk before the season about tanking? How the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were expected to lose a lot of games in order to position themselves for a top pick in the 2014 NBA draft?
Well, apparently the players and coaches didn’t get the memo.
The Celtics went to Miami and upset the Heat on a Jeff Green buzzer-beater.
That’s not normal -– at least with LeBron James in the lineup.
The Heat had won 24 consecutive regular-season home games with James in the lineup entering Saturday. They hadn’t lost a home game with him since Jan. 4.
The Celtics somehow overcame 58 percent shooting by the Heat, making 10 3-pointers to notch their third straight win after starting 0-4. Perhaps first-year head coach Brad Stevens is already figuring this NBA thing out.
Green’s game-winner was his seventh career game-tying or go-ahead field goal in the final 5 seconds of a game. His 64 percent shooting on those shots (7-for-11) is the highest percentage for any player with at least 10 attempts since he entered the league in 2007-08.
The Sixers are another team with a first-year head coach, Brett Brown. After opening 3-0, including an upset win over the Heat to start the season, they lost two straight and looked like they were coming back to earth.
But their performances the past two nights against the Cleveland Cavaliers suggest the Sixers are going to compete night in and night out.
After a 94-79 victory versus the Cavs on Friday, the Sixers went for the home-and-home sweep Saturday in Cleveland. The Sixers extended the game to double overtime and almost earned another period but for a Kyrie Irving game-winning shot in the final second.
At multiple points down the stretch, the Sixers could’ve handed it to the Cavs. But a Thaddeus Young game-tying shot with 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, an Evan Turner layup with 8 seconds left in the first overtime and a Michael Carter-Williams game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in double overtime kept the Sixers alive time and time again.
Turner set a career high with 31 points, Young was three points shy of his career high with 29 points, and Carter-Williams had a career-high 13 assists.
MCW for ROY?
Carter-Williams has distinguished himself as the early favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. He is the first player with at least 21 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds within his first seven career games since Jay Williams for the Chicago Bulls in 2002.
Carter-Williams joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with at least 130 points and 50 assists in their first seven career games.
With college stars like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker potentially up for grabs in the 2014 NBA draft, teams like the Celtics and Sixers were expected to be in position to acquire as many pingpong ball combinations as possible. But seven games into the season, the Sixers sit in first place in the Atlantic Division with the Celtics just one game back.