The memories are coming back. Seems like Game 7’s are a must have in this rivalry…
Look, the Celtics are getting up there and that injuries are mounting doesn’t help. The Sixers capitalized by taking it straight to Boston. Philly had a 42-16 points in the paint advantage and beat the C’s 82-75. So, if Philly wins in Boston Saturday, will the TD Bank North Garden crowd shout “Beat Miami! Beat Miami!” if Miami finishes off the Pacers tonight?
The Sixers brass has done a great job of making the moment bigger. When Allen Iverson presented the game ball, the Wells Fargo Arena became a different place. That Julius Erving and Allen Iverson were in the same building…in Philly…was historical. Imagine the picture if Wilt and Barkley were present. Yeah, I’m definitely Philadelphia dreaming…
In the beginning moments, Philly ran, they threw lobs…and despite having two careless turnovers in the first few possessions, Boston was put on notice that the pressure would be on veteran legs. Young legs would determine the outcome. Brandon Bass (2-12 for 8 points) would not be the relief a less than 100% Boston team would use to steal another game in Philly. Paul Pierce would be doubled at ever op (still had 24). It took 20 shots (9-20) for Garnett to get 20 points. Ray Allen’s (9 points. 4-11) ankle would not allow him to stay will Evan Turner’s (12 points) dribble drives to the cup. The Sixers drove and drove and drove. Iguodala (12 points, 6 boards) hit two more big free throws and had a vicious dunk that got the crowd hype. They held the Celtics to 33% shooting. Boston had just 5 bench points…all coming from Mickael Pietrus. Lou Williams had 11 of the bench for Philly. Boston did out board Philadelphia 48-37. Philly was just 16-28 (60.7%) from the line while Boston was 20-23 (87%).
Most importantly, the Sixers gave Rajon Rondo different looks and he did not play well. He was 4-14 for 9 points and 6 assists. He did have 9 rebounds. Boston missed Avery Bradley’s energy on both ends. Doc Rivers on his play:
“I don’t know. He wanted to play well. I think he attacked early and missed some shots. He probably got caught in between himself because he saw the offense wasn’t working. I thought he was trying to orchestrate the offense and try to go, and he probably got caught in the middle tonight. It happens, but he’ll be better.”
Philly didn’t shoot much better at 45%, but they controlled the 3rd quarter (Brand and Collins have stressed how great the Celtics have been in the 3rd period) and also the 4th. 1-9 from the arc usually doesn’t get it done but somehow the Sixers prevailed. Jrue Holiday’s star is rising and rising. He played great defense (Did you see the charge he took on Allen?) and his 20 points led the Sixers balanced scoring (5 in double figures). Elton Brand spoke of how Holiday, Turner and Lou Williams attacked:
“The way Jrue, Lou, Evan attacked it really helped us out. We got favorable whistles. We were attacking. They called the fouls. We went up there and knocked down our free throws. Andre [Iguodala] knocked them down when we needed them. We felt that we could do that. We felt that we could attack in that pick and roll. We made them pay for that.”
In my opinion, it was Elton Brand’s fight that got it done. He scored 13 and grabbed 10 boards and every one he pulled down, he did so with a purpose. He did not want this to be his last Sixers game and he played like it. The city should be proud to have such a Sixers warrior. He does it all for the team. A leader on and off the floor. Brand continued:
“The last game we shot over 50 percent, played well, and we were only up three points. Tonight, we were down a few points, but I thought we played well. We came out and played great in that third quarter and I think the Boston Celtics were the best team in the third quarter during the regular season so it’s always been a pivotal quarter for this series. We played well, hit some shots, played some good defense, and that’s when we got our lead.”
EB On Game 7: “Yeah. It’s a Game 7, and if we would have won the Atlantic, had a better record, it could have been at home. Everything’s a learning process, and we’re seeing how imperative it is to have home court advantage. We shifted the series with the Bulls, and we could finish them out here at home. Now we’re going on the road and we have to get a win out there. It’s going to be tough. We know we have to battle, but we’re going to have to try to find a way.”
A very professional Doug Collins post game:
“Well, gutty win to say the least. Thirty-three points at halftime with five missed free throws and I think about nine turnovers. It sure wasn’t an offensive masterpiece.
Our defense was tremendous. Held them to 16 points in the paint after 50 in Game 5. Took away a lot of those dunks and layups that they had. Second half, we only had three turnovers that gave them four points.
Third quarter has been a decisive quarter in every game of this round. Points in the paint, we wanted to get to the free throw line tonight, we did. I wish we could have been a little bit better, but we made them when it counted at the end. Dre [Andre Iguodala] stepped up, made a couple big ones. Jrue [Holiday] made a couple big ones and we’ve given ourselves a chance.
Game 7. That’s all we wanted was to win tonight and give ourselves a chance to go into Boston and see what happens on Saturday in Game 7.”
Ron and I both picked the Sixers in 6. Obviously the series can go either way and Boston will have a decided advantage being the game is in Boston and also that they will be afforded an extra day of rest. The sports nation seems to be counting this Sixers team out because of a preconceived notion the team lacks a superstar. It may also be that Boston’s big three has every bit of NBA experience and skill needed to become champions. I wonder how many pundits actually watched Sixers games. Could it be they are simply repeating what they think is true of Philadelphia? We’ll see Saturday.