LONDON — Dario Saric fell short of one of his best performances. However, Thursday’s 114-103 setback to the Boston Celtics will always be memorable to the 76ers’ power forward.
The matchup of Atlantic Division rivals at The O2 Arena enabled the Croatian to play in Europe in front of familiar faces, who traveled from his home country.
“I got the opportunity to spend some time with my family before the game,” said Saric, who finished with 14 points and four rebounds. “It meant a lot to me to have my family here, my friends were here, too, and it was great.”
His family didn’t witness one of his best shooting performances. Saric shot 4 for 11 from the field and missed 4 of his 5 three-point attempts. His team-high 33 minutes, 35 seconds of action included a tough stretch guarding Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum.
But he enjoyed playing in front of the sellout crowd of 19,078.
“I saw a lot of (well-known) soccer players who are very big here on this side of the pond, and it was a very special experience for me,” Saric said.
For him, the atmosphere was similar to playing an NBA game in America or Canada. He was amazed by the fan support the Sixers (19-20) received here in England.
While it was officially a Sixers home game, the atmosphere had a split-crowd NCAA-championship-game vibe. There were plenty of “Trust the Process” chants from Sixers fans, and just as many “Let’s go, Celtics” chants from Boston fans.
However, the Celtics (34-10) showed why they’re the Eastern Conference’s best team in the come-from-behind victory.
“Boston has a great team,” Saric said. “They play very well. From the point guard to the center, they are very tough to play against.
“Their defense is really good, as well, maybe the best in the league, then with players like [All-Star point guard] Kyrie [Irving], they’re able to turn a game around against anybody.”