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Poise? Young Sixers have it, out execute Celtics down stretch to even series

May 14, 2012, 10:45 PM EDT

Rajon Rondo AP

In Game 1, the Boston Celtics turned up the defensive pressure late, the young 76ers wilted and Boston escaped with a tight win.

Lesson learned.

The Sixers were the poised team down the stretch Monday, with Jrue Holiday hitting a three, Evan Turner making a difficult scoop shot, all the Sixers playing good defense and Turner hitting free throws. Meanwhile Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen missed key jumpers and Kevin Garnett got called for a moving screen.

Philly won 82-81 and has evened the series at 1-1 heading back to the City of Brotherly Love.

Between now and Game 3, the Celtics are going to have to find a way to get consistent offense. They are going to have to find some fire and fight, they have played it cool so far. Their veteran depth was supposed to be their advantage coming in — that and the veteran poise at the end of the game — but it has been hit and miss. While their small-ball offense got them back in it Monday it was not enough at the end.

Unlike Game 1 Boston came out playing hard from the opening tip and jumped out to 9-0 lead as the started 5-5 shooting from the field. But that was the first bit of poise we saw from the 76ers all night as they settled down and fought back to be down 25-21 after first quarter, then took lead early in second quarter.

The Sixers did a good job defensively on Boston all game (really, for two games now) — the Celtics scored 24 points in the second and third quarter combined. Rajon Rondo was 4-12 shooting on the night, Brandon Bass 5-15 (12 points for him) and Paul Pierce 2-9.

For the second game in a row Garnett led the Celtics, this time with 15 points on 7-12 shooting. But Boston has to get more production from other guys, and Pierce just does not look himself with that sprained knee. Allen is not himself with ankle issues. But the points need to come from somewhere.

The Sixers led by 8 entering the fourth quarter but they were struggling to score all game as well against the Boston defense. Well, except for Holiday, he bounced back from his 3-13 shooting in Game 1 to score 18 points on 7-15, including going 4-6 from three. He was the guy that had the offense.

But at home, you knew Boston would make a run and sure enough a Garnett turnaround in the lane tied the game with 4:30 to go. It felt like Game 1 — Philly would play them close but the veteran Celtics would make the plays.

Not this time. Philly had the lucky — a Lavoy Allen turnaround 17-footer with 0.9 on the shot clock that banked in — and just the plane good (the ridiculous scoop shot by Turner in the paint). Avery Bradley (who had been out after separating his shoulder again) returned and hit a key three, but Jrue Holiday answered right back. Then Ray Allen answered back again.

The key plays down the stretch for Boston came next — Rondo missed a wide-open shot from the top of the key. Turner scored then Ray Allen missed a contested 15-foot baseline leaner. Turner made his free throws and the Celtics were down three.

That’s when Kevin Garnett got called for a moving screen that freed up Paul Pierce for a three-point attempt. It was a moving screen, KG holds and leans out into Andre Iguodala, but you almost never see that call at that point. Against the home team. Against Garnett. Boston was in disbelief.

But Philly made the plays and now will have the chance to take the lead in this series at home.

If one team can figure out how to put up consistent offense in this series, they will pull away. For 45 minutes this game was hard to watch, it felt like a 1990s Knicks game. Without the flair. We were lucky that the final three minutes had big shots and plenty of entertainment.

If at home Philly can get some more transition baskets they can make things hard on Boston. For the Celtics, the points are going to have to come from Rondo or one of the aging bodies on this team. These are two good defensive teams but we are also seeing just a lot of missed good looks.

That’s fine with Philly for a night. They won. They grew up and showed poise and now we have a real series on our hands.

  1. acdc363 - May 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    All you need is poise, poise

    poise is all you need!

  2. jucam1 - May 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    Boston has been a great team over the last few tears, but just because my Sixers aren’t favored to win doesn’t mean we’ll make it easy…. Good win, showing the Beantown town what they’ll be dealing with for years to come…. Big win Sixers!

  3. willardj - May 14, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    Turner and Holiday are both inconsistent players, but they both played well when it counted. Really it was a great defensive effort all game that led to the win. Lavoy Allen needs to be given the majority of the credit. He’s a 2nd round pick who was picked as #500 on Hollinger’s pre-season list of the NBA’s top 500 players. He took KG’s trash talking in stride and outplayed Elton Brand to the point where Allen played the majority of the 4th quarter while Brand rode the bench.

    • tfoz5150 - May 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM

      It’s ok you don’t have to make it about Brand. The young kid is bringing his game.

  4. sledgehorn - May 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    Getting more and more pumped as this series goes on.
    But if these games keep getting decided by 1 point i’m going to have a heart attack…

    • jblah - May 15, 2012 at 6:59 AM

      as long as the sixers win i’m good with 1 point or 20 points! although in all fairness last nights game was a 4 point win. garnett just hit that strange 3 at the end which ended up counting but he wasn’t really guarded or anything.

  5. Justin - May 14, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    ” It was a moving screen, KG holds and leans out into Andre Iguodala, but you almost never see that call at that point. Against the home team. Against Garnett. Boston was in disbelief.”

    I love how you summed up the biggest issues in my opinion with NBA basketball. A whole city was in disbelief that a foul was called (and it was a foul) against a home team against a superstar. Why should any of those be reasons to not call a foul. So annoying.

  6. mornelithe - May 14, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    Terrible terrible shooting night for the Celtics, the 76er’s played well despite also not getting any real consistency from their team, either. Still gutted it out, delivered many key defensive plays. Yeah, gratz to them, I just hope both teams can drain a few more of the shots they take in the next game though.

  7. dannythebisforbeast - May 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Bet they don’t break a 100 in the series. Either of them.

    • sledgehorn - May 14, 2012 at 11:37 PM

      I wouldn’t be shocked if a game ends up under 100 points, total.

  8. rodge1 - May 14, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Nice win Sixers… Where are the Boston fans who said Celtics were East favorites? Oh yeah, they only come out after meaningless wins..

    • jimeejohnson - May 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Your comment is meaningless! There is no such thing as a meaningless win in the playoffs. . Both games were as close as they could be, and if the Sixers didn’t allow the Celtics to come back and beat them in game 1, they would be up 2-0. Real Sixers fans know this series will be extremely competitive and decided mostly by who wants it more, and injuries. Of course, there will always be the whiners who blame the refs, like those sore losers in Smell-A.

  9. jerdogthompson - May 14, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    I will say, the 6ers showed me a flash of brilliance today. Although, Boston had their opportunity to put the game away a bit earlier. Good game 6ers

    • jblah - May 15, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      both teams played just awful until the 4th quarter. each had opportunity to put this game away but neither took advantage. i guess thats what happens when you have 2 defensive teams going at it .

  10. phillynac - May 14, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    I guess all of the Boston fans that were yelling sweep are gone. I think Boston is the better team but they are beat up and they really struggled in Philly this season. The Sixers proved to themselves that they can win down the stretch in Boston in the playoffs. What a huge win. The Wells Fargo will be rocking on Wednesday night. I can’t wait.

    • jimeejohnson - May 15, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      Good to see a Philly team advancing through the playoffs. Not a Philadelphian but still cannot believe the Flyers destroyed the Penguins only to be destroyed by the What Exit Devils. With the Phillies always coming up short, and the Eagles not even close to winning anything, it’s up to these Sixers to bring their great city glory, and perhaps a date with the Heat for the Eastern crown.

  11. mungman69 - May 15, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    Sweep? Sweep? Sweep?

  12. bleedgreen4life - May 15, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    I understand Brand is one of the leaders of this team but his time is just about up. Amnesty his contract this offseason. He hasn’t stepped up at all in the postseason and Lavoy has when we needed him. I don’t want to be too negative after a great win but facts are facts. Go Sixers!

  13. roodean23 - May 15, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    It’s funny how the Boston fans are crying B.S about a good call when all Kevin Garnett does is beat up the other players, ex. look at the play when garnett dunks and hangs on the rim and just puts his knees in turners face purposely , some people say savvy vet moves I say dirty player and then cry when the whistle blows

  14. turnmymicup - May 15, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    I knew when this series started it wasn’t going to be a sweep. Some ppl get too fascinated with headlines. This is the playoffs its all about the match up. Everyone just assumed Boston would easily take care of Philly. Sure Celtics have the veteran leadership but Philly has young runners. Both are dangerous. Now 76ers took one in Boston and head back to Philly for the next two. Boston might have a problem on their hands if these boys stay hot.

  15. mungman69 - May 15, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    Yes: Elton Brand looks old (he is) but the Sixers are going to need him to win this series.

    • tfoz5150 - May 15, 2012 at 7:44 AM

      I agree. He brings the grit and attitude to this very young team. He ‘s a veteran presence they need to look to at this time. I especially love the scoul he gives now on the court is the same one I used to see him sporting when Eddie Jordan was his coach. I thought he hated being a Sixers playing for that guy.

      • scalfor3 - May 15, 2012 at 9:39 PM

        brand made a couple of key shots that pulled them out of a shooting slump in the 3rd. dudes not the impact player they signed him to be anymore, but he still is valuable

  16. mungman69 - May 15, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    A win is a win, doesn’t matter what the score is.

  17. dannythebisforbeast - May 15, 2012 at 8:14 AM

    Best part is lower level tickets in Philly $20

  18. canehouse - May 15, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    Doc is arguably a top 3 coach in the Association… so where does that put Doug?

  19. phillynac - May 15, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Phillies always coming up short? They won the world series less than 4 years ago.

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