Many players were expecting this series to be very competitive and closely matched up, but were they expecting it this close? The Celtics started the game down and clawed their way back with great late game execustion to get a 1 point win, beating the 76ers 92-91.
Here’s what we learned in tonight’s game:
1) The value of energy guys and bench scoring. This series will be much closer than people expect it to, and that’s because of the production from Philadelphia’s bench mob of Lavoy Allen, Thaddeus Young, and Lou Williams who leads the 76ers in scoring despite being a bench player (Last player to do that was Dell Curry)
2) Injuries, due to the compressed schedule, many of the players on both sides are injured and battling fatigue to play. Igoudala, Hawes, Ray Allen, Pierce, Bradley, Rondo, Garnett, Pietrus. This series may come down to whoever’s healthise will win the games, but Philly’s youth gives them the advantage to recover quicker and prevent an injury.
3) Doug Collins may not have as many coaching accoloades as Doc Rivers does, but he’s been broadcasting and coaching for several years and has a career winning percentage of 53.2% whereas Doc is 55.8% so the coaching matchup will be muh closer than everyone anticipates. Even Doug Collins seems to be maximizing the most talent out of his roster than Doc is.
4) Rebounding will be a key to this matchup as the hustle and 2nd chance points may define an expected grind it out game where the stingy defense of both teams will be on display. Philly has the advantage in this regard as the Celtics are notoriously horrible rebounding the ball since thet traded Perkins away.
5) 3 Point shooting will be big for this series. Philly isn’t known for shooting several 3′s, but they do make them at a respectable rate, and lately, Pietrus and Ray Allen have been unable to make their 3′s leaving the Celtics shorthanded with one of their strengths due to their injuries. Whoever wins the 3pt matchup is likely to win the series.
To start the 1st q the Celtics are passing the ball deep into the post to Garnett to start their offensive game. Celtics preferring to play inside outside against the stinging defense of the 76ers and it seems to be working so far. Despite the 76ers defensive speed and athleticism, their interior defenders cannot handle Garnett’s footwork in the post. On the defensive side, the Celtics are unable to keep up with the speed of the 76ers, due to their youth. They’re able to get many slashes to the rim for open layups and dunks especially because Bass’s defense is atrocious. In one particular sequence he was pumped fake easy and didn’t hustle back on defense. It seems that the 76ers realize Bass’s poor defense attacking him several times in the post and pushing the tempo and the lack of help D from the rest of the Celtics. Philly getting a great balanced effort from the team, particularly Igoudala, Hawes, and Turner who are working primarily out of the post and finding incoming cutters.
Over a 9 and 1/2 minute span Kevin Garnett is the only Celtic to make any basket, scoring the first 6 points of the game before Ray Allen makes a basket. To combat the hustle and energy from the76ers, the Celtics are slowing the game down to get better looks at the quick defense of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is also showing great discipline with their shot selection, playing inside very well and selectively shooting 3pters at opportune times. Rondo did his best to keep the Celtics in the game including setting up an alley oop that was botched and appeared to injure Ryan Hollins as he got up slowly. The Celtics finish the period down 28-18 with only 2 Celtics who made baskets in the period, going a combined 2-14 excluding Garnett. The Celtics are still losing the rebound game as well due to lack of lift and hustle against the young, athletic, and energized Philly squad. The 76ers finished the period with a balanced effort getting scoring from every player and getting Greg Stiemsma in foul trouble to help offset the early foul trouble of Evan Turner.
Starting the 2nd, it’s more of the same as Philly continues to get all the hustle points as they quickly go on a 9-0 run and 8-0 run before the Celtics started to claw back. The Celtics were finally able to pierce through the defense of Philly with Garnett and Rondo playing a drive and kick game or passing out of the post. Ray Allen, despite his injury is still able to play productively allowing Boston to go on 10-2 run to claw back into the game. The Celtics finished the period down 47-42. Philly was getting great scoring from Turner and Igoudala who combined for 24 points to finish the half. Ray Allen finishes the half making the only 3pters for Boston going 2-4, with the rest of the team 0-5. Also Garnett finishes the half with 14 points, Ray Allen 8 points, and Rondo 8 assists , along with 3 steals. The majority of C’s are still struggling heavily to make shots but scoring on free throws . Garnett and Allen combined are 9-14, whereas the rest of team is 7-26 struggling mightily against the stinging defense of the 76ers. The 76ers are showing great playmaking and poise from Turner, Jrue Holiday, Igoudala, and Spencer Hawes giving them balanced contributions to go with great rebounding and hustle.
In the 3rd Avery Bradley scores on 2 quick baskets with Garnett to start a 6-0 run that lets the Celtics take the lead for the first time this game, up 48-47 with 9 minutes left in the 3rd. Bradley showing some courage driving against Philly despite his shoulder injury which is still affecting his play and hustle. Rondo also nearly stretches his groin again nearly doing the splits but stays in the game appearing to be fine. The 2nd unit of Philly with Lou Williams, Lavoy Allen, and Thaddeus Young using their scoring ability and speed to keep Philadelphia in the game scoring on several 2nd chance points from driving to the rim and boxing out to get easy putbacks and dunk opportunities. Halfway through the 3rd, the 76ers force Doc Rivers to take a time out and find a plan that can work to prevent Philly from exploiting their speed advantage against Boston. Unsurprisingly it’s not working for Boston as they can’t match the effort and hustle from this young Philly squad but somehow Bass becomes energized scoring on a few quick possessions and getting some clutch rebounds to keep Boston in this match. Scary moment for Boston when Ray Allen lands awkwardly on his ankle after hitting the foot of another player, but luckily doesn’t re-injure himself and scores on a clutch up and under basket. The C’s finish the 3rd with much more balanced scoring from their players and using Pietrus to help slow down Evan Turner and Andre Igoudala who have been torching the Celtics, especially on the boards. Celtics finish the period down 71-67 but with some momentum and a better plan on how to slow down Philly, most likely by preventing the passing lanes with Rondo, Pietrus, and Garnett disrupting any interior passing from the perimeter and fighting for position better.
In the 4th, the 2nd unit for Philly start the game and wearing out the Celtics with their non-stop motor and effort scoring 6 quick baskets in a 1 minute span. Lavoy Allen is doing a phenomenal job along with Lou Williams to provide energy for this well disciplined Doug Collins coached squad, stretching the lead to 10 points, up 77-67. Quickly after that, Bradley and the rest of the Celtics go on a 18-5 run over a 7 minute stretch to get back into the game trailing 82-81. In one sequence the Celtics had 2 2nd chance opportunities with a new 24 second clock before they botched the show and Hawes went for an easy layup. On the next possession Rondo hit a big uncontested jumpshot to give Boston the lead 83-82 before a quick timeout. That basket also gave Rondo he’s 8th triple double of his playoff career,Philadelphia then regroups on a Hawes jumper and a back and forth ensues with Garnett making an And 1 putting the Celtics up 86-84 with 3 minutes to go. the next few minutes proved for the most exciting basketball of the match as the Celtics executed amazingly with 2 very clutch baskets from Garnett and Pierce to build a 90-84 lead. Igoudala then hit a great 3pt shot to make it 90-87 Celtics, which was followed by a Rondo basket for a 92-87 lead. Miraculously the 76ers were able to get 2 stops and scored 4 points to get a 92-91 lead with 3.4 seconds left after 2 J Holiday free throws. On the final play, Celtics inbounded the ball to Rondo, whom the 76ers had to foul, but was too fast for Lou Williams who was unable to foul him giving Boston the miraculous comeback win.
Stats of the night
Rondo 13 points, 17 assists, 12 rebounds, 4 steals, 7 turnovers
Garnett: 29 points, 1 assists, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 1 turnover
Pierce: 14 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers
Turner: 16 points, 3 assists, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers
Igoudala: 19 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers
Hawes: 15 points, 3 assists, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 turnover
Interesting stats for the night: Boston led for less than 5 minutes for the entire game. Rondo is the leading Celtic player with the most triple doubles in playoff history with 8, tying him with Oscar Roberston but trailing Jason Kidd and Magic Johnson who have 11, and 30 respectively. Philadelphia coach was a former #1 overall NBA draft pick for Philadelphia and even averaged 20 points in a season being a 4x all star and coaching the all star game in 1997. The series win against Chicago was the first for Philadelphia since 2003 during the Iverson Era. Collins retired with nearly a 18 ppg average along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists for his career. He also coached Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen but was fired and replaced by his assistant, the great Phil Jackson. During the postgame interview, one of the reporters mentioned to Rondo it’s sometimes difficult for an older team to win, whom Rondo interrupted mid-sentence stating they aren’t old, and they’ll win the series because they’ll be fine and experienced. Garnett’s 29 points tonight were a season high.
About the Author
Written by Andrew Mossad
Avid basketball player/fan out of Ontario with a strong preference on matchup mismatches and good basketball over highlights.