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3.13.2009

Celtics Not Discouraged by Loss to Philly

1990-91 Boston Celtics
Remembering the 29-5 Start


They meet again in 16 days. By that time, Charles Barkley may even be talking trash again. The Celtics may have found an extra body. Hey, Lou Gorman may even have found a pitcher.

What seems undeniable, however, is that the Celtics and Sixers will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching this season. They were picked 1-2 or 2-1 in the Atlantic Division by most everyone and nothing has happened in the first month to make any of the prognosticators look foolish.

The Sixers appear to have regrouped after the loss of Johnny Dawkins, at least for now. They certainly didn't miss him Saturday. All Rickey Green and Andre Turner managed to do was combine for 23 points, 13 assists and 0 turnovers.

And the Celtics have absolutely no reason to feel discouraged after Saturday's 116-110 defeat in the Spectrum. The presence of Seattle tonight won't let them dwell on the game anyway, but Chris Ford had little to gripe about (other than the result) after the club's first road test in December.

Simply, had the Celtics been the home team, they likely would have won. That they didn't is as much a testimony to the reality of life in the NBA as it is to the Sixers' strengths.

The Celtics had dug themselves out of huge holes in New York and Chicago and stolen victories. They had no chance in Milwaukee. But they had a real chance to steal one in Philadelphia and it took a sublime effort from Barkley to prevent them from doing so.

The last time the Celtics played in the Spectrum in what could be construed as an important game, they were mauled. Saturday, they recovered from a slow start, trailing by 12, and were tied with 6:32 left.

"I can't be too disturbed," Ford said. "The effort was there."

And you can count on Philadelphia doing the same in Boston Dec. 19. Barkley may be dealing in platitudes after the game, but during the game, he is anything but predictable.

Between now and then, Larry Bird will turn 34 and the Atlantic Division race may even tighten. After a cupcake daily-double this week (Seattle/Denver), the Celtics travel to Texas for three games in four nights and then return home to face Milwaukee and Detroit.

The Sixers, meanwhile, are in a homestand of sorts. Five of their next six are at the Spectrum and the one road game is Orlando.

The Boston-Philadelphia rivalry may not be what it was in the early 1980s or the 1960s, but it still is a pretty good take. The Sixers, who are struggling at the gate, had their first sellout of the season Saturday. Barkley didn't disappoint the fans, scoring 37 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Boston is 7-26 in Philadelphia since Bird came into the league, and 4-16 since the arrival of Barkley for the 1984-85 season.

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