This article was published in the Inquirer on November 21, 2000.
Blowout victories come in a variety of forms and fashions. The 76ers displayed a few of them last night.
Guards Allen Iverson and Aaron McKie celebrated the team's dominance of the Boston Celtics with laughter. Coach Larry Brown camouflaged his team's latest win with class and diplomacy. Brown's boss, Pat Croce - perpetually, historically and demonstratively enthusiastic in victory - sat quietly, refusing to rub salt in Boston's wounds.
The Sixers captured their franchise-record 10th straight victory to open an NBA season, upending the Celtics, 114-90, in front of 15,209 spectators who couldn't have enjoyed what they witnessed at the FleetCenter.
The Celtics were so pathetic that coach Rick Pitino will probably be coaching college basketball somewhere next season. Rumors have swirled for days about Pitino sending out feelers to Indiana University about coaching there.
Iverson was sensational, finishing with a game-high 26 points, eight assists and no turnovers in 41 minutes. Point guard Eric Snow was equally efficient, finishing with 14 points and 12 assists. McKie came off the bench and dropped 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting. The Sixers committed just 12 turnovers.
And the Celtics?
Eric Williams led Boston with 22 points. Tony Battie chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds. Boston outrebounded the Sixers, 51-44. But those numbers are of no consequence. When you shoot 40.7 percent (33 for 81) the decency of grabbing some offensive rebounds (18) is the least you can do.
"I'll admit, Boston helped us out a lot," Sixers forward George Lynch said. "After a while, they saw that their press wasn't working. ... They should have came out of it. "
When they didn't, Brown went small and put the ball in Iverson's hands. The results were predictable. Especially against a Celtics team that surrenders more than 97 points per game.
The Celtics committed a horrific 25 turnovers, which the Sixers turned into 35 points. They registered just 15 assists, showing an inexplicable tendency to rely on three-point shots. Boston shot 5 for 25 (20 percent) from beyond the arc, and hit just 19 of 30 (63.3 percent) from the free-throw line.
"Those kind of games are fun," said Iverson, who saw some time at point guard last night. He shot 11 for 23 from the field. "Guys are out there pressing us the whole game. Me and [Snow] have never been pressed all game like that. [The Celtics] do it to shut you down, but it just opens things up for us. "
Added Pitino: "The 76ers made us look bad tonight, with great play. From the pressing standpoint - with 28 assists - to every phase of the game, they played terrific. That's why they are 10-0. They were brilliant at every facet of the game. "
Celtics forward Paul Pierce summarized: "We got blown away. "
Technically, the blowout began from the opening tap. It just took the Sixers a while to finish the job. They led after one quarter, 27-21, and were up by 59-44 at the half. The Celtics were getting booed, players' heads were bowed, and they seemed lost.
The Sixers came out and pounced on the Celtics to open the second half.
Jumpers from Iverson and McKie started it. Then Snow hit one. Theo Ratliff (21 points, five blocks) dunked. Before the Celtics blinked, they trailed by 72-51 with 7 minutes, 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
"We only gave up nine points on turnovers against a team that causes turnovers," Brown said. "That was the game. Plus, our guard play [Iverson, Snow and McKie] was sensational. "
Before the quarter ended, the Sixers' lead grew to 86-68.
"I wasn't going to say anything," said Croce, applauding only when Pepe Sanchez scored on a 19-foot jumper with 1:47 left in the game. "I'm not into embarrassing anyone. "
No matter. It wasn't really necessary, anyway.
The Sixers had already spent 48 minutes doing it for him.