These Atlantic Division foes played an emotional and pulsating overtime contest one night before Saturday night's rematch at the TD Garden.
The 76ers-Celtics rivalry used to be one of the best in the NBA. That kind of intensity could be back now after Boston eliminated Philadelphia in seven games in last season's playoffs.
The 76ers (11-8) have responded by winning the first two matchups since, including a 95-94 victory Friday at home. That contest featured trash talking by both teams, with Evan Turner yelling at Paul Pierce on one sequence.
"When the adrenaline kicks in and trash talk occurs, you want to shut the other team up," Turner said.
Turner did exactly that with another big game against the Celtics with 26 points and 10 rebounds. He had team highs of 25 points and 11 boards in a 106-100 victory at Boston (10-9) on Nov. 9.
After missing his first four shots in overtime, Turner drove past Courtney Lee and tossed up an off-balance, right-handed shot for the winner with 3.9 seconds left.
"Hopefully, it's the first of many," Turner said. "I'm glad I was able to break through."
The Celtics lost despite Rajon Rondo's triple-double. Rondo had 16 points, 14 assists and a season-high 13 rebounds.
It was Boston's first loss in Rondo's 14 triple-doubles and the point guard slipped and his ankles buckled on the game's last possession, costing him a chance to maintain that perfect record.
"It's frustrating," Rondo said. "But the good thing about the NBA is you've got a chance to bounce back tomorrow night and get it back."
Rondo also missed a potential game-winner at the end of regulation.
"This is a make-miss league," coach Doc Rivers said. "When you miss open shots, you're going to lose. And they made theirs."
Pierce scored 27 points and Kevin Garnett added 17 and 10 rebounds. Garnett is no stranger to trash talk, and he sounded like he couldn't wait for Saturday night.
"Philly plays us tough. We all know that," Garnett said. "But we're building something here, and we'll take what we need out of this and get ready to get right back after them."
The Sixers won despite 37.4 percent shooting as the Celtics trapped point guard Jrue Holiday on numerous possessions. Thaddeus Young scored 17 points and Holiday added 15, although both made just 7 of 18 shots.
"I found out a lot about my guys tonight, I really did," coach Doug Collins said.
Philadelphia avoided its first three-game slide. Spencer Hawes, who Collins challenged in practice Thursday, turned in a solid effort with 10 points and six boards.
Collins had a message for his team regarding this rematch.
"He says the great ones do it when they're tired," Turner said. "Tomorrow's going to be key, both teams are going to be tired. I think we can pull through."
Sixers reserve guard Nick Young has missed the last three games with a left big toe hyperextension, but could return Saturday. He lived up to his "Swaggy P" nickname when he walked into the locker room wearing leopard skin shoes Friday.