A big game tonight. Tied at 2-2. A big swing game that will push the series heavily into one team’s favour and make life difficult on the other.
Philly really needs to win tonight to win this series. I have a hard time picturing them winning the following two games in an elimination setting with Boston trying to close it out. They need to take the lead here.
As for Boston, their chances take a big blow if they lose today but I still like their ability to come from behind and win the final two games if necessary. They have the talent, experience and mental fortitude to do that.
Avery Bradley is out of tonight’s game. Ray Allen will start in his place. I would have liked to have seen Doc Rivers go with Mickael Pietrus instead. Keep Ray in that chief backup wing role to let him get comfortable plus because Boston’s starting unit has benefited greatly from the increase in quickness, athleticism and defensive intensity that Avery Bradley brought to the table. I think Pietrus can better replace that and maintain the unit’s consistency.
- Elton Brand gets an offensive rebound off of Hawes miss — a pick and pop on the right wing, baseline J, Bass runs him off it, one dribble left, pull up, looks good but misses, Brand rebounds on weakside – realizes he has the smaller Pierce on him, refuses to pass out, posts up, takes a turnaround jumper and hits it. Smart play by Brand to attack the smaller Pierce.
- Evan Turner has to come out early which forces Jodie Meeks onto Ray Allen. An advantageous matchup there for Boston.
- The Celtics immediately try to post up Ray, fails to get him a look, continue to run Ray off screens, trying to attack Meeks, high right wing screen, catch and shoot at the three point line, nails it. Jodie Meeks is too weak defensively to check a scorer of Ray’s caliber.
- Rajon Rondo has had a pair of blow-bys (one on Jrue, one on Turner) for layups at the basket out of the halfcourt offense in the first three minutes. Boston leads 7-4. Turner checks back in for Meeks at the next dead ball.
- Bass has a midrange jumper rim in and out. He has had tough time in the playoffs so far. It’d give Boston a big boost if he could continue to build off his strong game in Game Four tonight.
- Iggy strips Pierce in the corner, fastbreak the other way, Ray stands firm for the charge on Iggy’s drive, loose ball, Ray steals it. Sloppy play from Iggy.
- Holiday right wing, Turner posting up right post, being fronted, Brand cuts to the middle of the paint from left box, Holiday to Brand touch pass to Turner, layup. Nice teamwork and spacing from Philly.
- Rondo gets his third layup. This time in transition. He has 6 of their 9 points (Ray the other 3).
- Brand gets a layup. High pick and pop with Hawes, Garnett has to help off of Brand from the interior to take away the jumper, late defensive rotation, Brand had already made (Hawes pass top of the key) the catch and had position for the layup by the time Rondo came across, layup.
- Philly lead 12-11 midway through the period.
- A few baskets before and after the score update – a drive and dump from Pierce to Garnett for the short shot in the paint, a tough contested driving layup from Holiday + then Lavoy Allen and Stiemsma exchange interior layups. Lavoy Allen follows that up with a tip in off of Thaddeus Young’s runner. Having a great series for Philly.
- Lavoy Allen’s success is a bit reminiscent of Joel Anthony success against Boston in last year’s playoffs. The quickness. The build (physically). The aggressiveness on the offensive boards. The finishing in the paint. Plus, Allen gets the occasional jumper too.
- Greg Stiemsma with the baseline J
- Philly lead 21-19 after Holiday nails a corner three which Bass replies with a baseline drive and layup
- Iguodala always seems to get up for it when facing the Celtics. Makes a tough drive and contested pull up jumper from 14 feet off the dribble against Pierce with the shot clock winding down. Iggy plays so well against Boston.
- Ray Allen pin down left wing, touch pass to Bass, baseline drive, pass to the cutting Stiemsma (right block), layup. Ray Allen’s movement creating offense for his teammates there. Fourth bucket in short minutes from Stiemsma.
- Lovely leading pass by Jrue Holiday to Lavoy Allen off the left wing pick and roll as Jrue Holiday comes across the middle of the paint and finds Allen for the slam dunk.
- Holiday doesn’t get his buzzer beater off in time. No basket. A baseline catch and shoot over Stiemsama.
- Philly lead 27-23
- Young hugging the baseline after the cross paint cut and makes himself available for the pass, layup. Nice movement.
- Stiemsma moving much better defensively tonight. Looks active.
- Dooling in here for Boston. No Rondo. No Bradley. But Pierce is there, he needs to take responsibility for creating offensively.
- Boston – Dooling, Pietrus, Pierce, KG, Hollins
- Philly – Lou Will, Meeks, Turner, Thaddeus, Brand
- Philly can hide Young on Hollins. Meeks is vulnerable to Pietrus in the post (who is a solid post scorer) but Boston is unlikely to go to that. Brand is a bit slow for KG but he should do okay until Lavoy Allen returns.
- Immediately, Garnett blows by Brand but misses the baseline layup (left wing drive), Hollins offensive rebound and putback. Brand replies with a midrange jumper on the other end to give him 8 points on 4-5 FGAs. Next possession down, Garnett, right wing, faces up from 14 feet out, blows by Brand again and again goes baseline, tries a wraparound pass under the rim to Hollins for the layup, deflected, Garnett retrieves it, short shot plus the foul, makes it. Lavoy Allen needs to come back in. Timeout.
- Philly leads 35-33 with 8 minutes to play in the first half
- Lavoy Allen doesn’t enter but Brand continues his hot shooting with a pump fake, one dribble in and pull up jumper from the FT line. 10 points for Brand. Garnett and Pierce work the pick and pop about 18 feet out on the right wing, back to Garnett, drives middle on Brand, short jumper in the paint, makes it. Garnett getting high percentage shot attempt after high percentage shot attempt against Brand.
- Lou Williams hit an ugly pull up jumper from 21 feet out on the right wing. Ugly because he hesitated before shooting it and looked out of rhythm when he took it. Beautiful swishing shot though. Timeout.
- Rondo finds Bass for the baseline jumper which he makes. 6 minute mark in the second. Three point lead for Philly.
- Pierce muscles up the driving finish in the paint. Tough shot.
- Brand 6-7 FGAs as he hits a midrange jumper on the left wing
- Beautiful passing leads to a Bass catch 8 feet from the rim, one dribble, gets around his defender, easy reverse layup, fumbles it, only five seconds on the shot clock, violation. Pity.
- Elton Brand showing hard on help defense but he is struggling to get back into the play. Leading to a lot of easy passing lanes and penetration for the Celtics.
- Jrue Holiday nails an impressive corner three off the dribble with Ray Allen in his face against the shot clock.
- Brand, mis-match with Pierce, right post up, dribbles right towards the baseline, pull up jumper, misses, offensive rebound Philly. Timeout.
- Philly lead 46-40 at the three minute mark after a pair of FTs
- Garnett catches left wing, dribbles right against Hawes, decides to turn it into a post up, backs him down, fadeaway jumper, good! Garnett has a team leading 12 points on 4-9 FGAs. On the other end, deflection by Garnett, turnover, no fastbreak, Boston set it up, run an iso for Pierce at the top of the key, right side of the court clears out, Pierce drives left into the help defense, draws the defenders, Rondo cuts, Pierce finds him, Rondo low left side of the rim, defense shunts down, Rondo finds Bass on the opposite side, fouled on the layup. Bass makes one of two at the line.
- Excellent pass from the high post by Hawes to Turner running down the middle of the paint, then posting up Ray, Turner patiently turns and finds the shot inside, makes it.
- Final minute, into Bass in the post against Young (right post), double teamed, loses it but Boston keeps the ball, swung to the opposite wing, Ray drives, loses it on the way up, turnover, fastbreak Philly, Iggy goes coast-to-coast for the monster slam! Woo.
- Boston post up Bass again, double, kickout, offense breaks down, Rondo makes it happen with the shot clock ticking down with the drive and kick to Garnett on the left wing for a 21 footer.
- Final possession for Philly, they take a timeout fist to set something up. Boston foul to give. Puts it down to 5 seconds from 13. Inbounds by Iggy, to Lou Will, one-on-one, three pointer from well above the arc, off the dribble, contested, misses. Bad shot. Bad possession.
I’d like to see Pietrus start the second half for Boston in place of Ray Allen. Their defensive energy was dodgy in that first half. They need to find a way to crank that defense up.
It was nice to see Stiemsma play a few productive minutes late in the first and early in the second. He has struggled since the playoffs have begun. His health has been bothering him. The Hollins situation. Perhaps a loss in confidence with Doc going with Hollins instead of him. Anyway, nice to see Boston finally getting some production out of their backup bigs. They (their second unit) relied heavily on Stiemsma late in the regular season, it would give them a real boost if he could give them that in the playoffs.
- Philly lead 50-47
- High pick and pop for Hawes who nails the 22 footer from the top of the key.
- Garnett gets by Brand again on the face up drive, drive and kick, Boston fumble it (Bass drive) on the subsequent drive, fastbreak, Brand fouled at the rim after a pair of nice passes from Evan Turner (no look wraparound pass at the FT line to a cutting) and Thaddeus Young (falling out of bounds, finds a trailing Brand).
- Brand deflecting Pierce’s pass, Garnett retrieves it, takes a dribble pull up J, misses. Nice defensive activity from Philly early in the third.
- Brand with a very tough fadeaway jumper from 12 feet in the middle of the paint over Garnett’s out-stretched hand. Very tough.
- Hawes just picked up his 4th foul. Philly leaves him in. I like that call by Doug Collins. Big game, gotta try and get as many minutes out of him as possible.
- Pierce posts up deep on Turner, triple teamed, passes out to Bass on the right elbow who knocks down the jumper.
- Philly leads 55-51 three minutes into the period
- Brand forces another tough turnaround, never squared up, rushed it and missed it (obviously).
- Ray Allen left wing pick and pop with Bass, drives hard to the baseline, draws the defender, kicks it to the opposite baseline (no look pass), Garnett nails the long jumper. Very nice play by Ray Allen.
- Hawes takes Bass off the dribble from the high post, drives down the middle, layup. Odd play. Bass contesting the pass too closely there and allowed the slow-footed Hawes to beat him off the dribble.
- Iggy picks off Garnett’s pass, breakaway, fouled by Pierce. Clear-path foul. Unlucky for Pierce, that was close. Iggy misses both but Philly keeps the ball. On that possession, Pierce picks off Hawes’ bounce pass to a baseline cutting Iggy (or Turner), fastbreak, Philly foul in transition to stop the easy shot attempt. Smart foul.
- Ray Allen pick and roll with Garnett, finds him nicely, Garnett attacks the basket, Hawes meets him at the rim and KG pushes off. Offensive foul. Philly turn it over on the other end (three second violation).
- Drive and kick by Rondo to Garnett 22 footer right wing, hits it. Two point game.
- Timeout Philly. Seven minutes to play, Philly lead 57-55.
- Bass knocks down a pair of FTs to tie up the game. Thad Young has come in for Hawes.
- Garnett trips Brand as Brand crosses him over from 23 feet on the left wing. Haha. Fun slow-motion play. 3rd foul for KG.
- Young posts up Pierce, one handed turnaround J baseline, misses. Left post.
- Lovely play by Rondo to probe the defense and find Bass for the dunk inside. Boston lead. 7th assist for Rondo. It was a hand off and pick 14 feet from the basket, Rondo dribbled around middle, back to Bass as defense loaded up on him. On the other end, Rondo rips it away from Holiday, fastbreak, to KG, to Ray right lane, back to KG, deflected, Bass retrieves it and puts it in. Philly turn it over again, fastbreak, Ray Allen layup. Philly need a timeout. A 14-4 run by Boston. Timeout Philly. Awful sequence for Philly.
- Lou Williams knocks down the 19 footer from the top of the key to silent the crowd. Garnett is sitting. Good chance for Philly to make a run here. Next possession, Thad Young open on the left baseline, Iggy finds him, lob pass, layup. Two point game. Next time down, after a Ray missed catch and shoot on right sideline, Lou Williams gets to the foul line on a dribble drive after passing up the open jumper, he makes one of two. One point game.
- Bass replies with a jumper on the right wing. He has 17 points with 12 points in the quarter.
- Lavoy Allen replies with a foul line jumper over Stiemsma.
- Oh, lovely reverse pass back to Bass from Rondo, one dribble down the left hand side of the lane, layup for Bass.
- Philly turn it over again. A backcourt violation. Philly’s big picked up his dribble, had no-one to pass it too, Boston closed down all passing lanes, pressured him into a bad pass. Turnover.
- Stiemsma looking uncomfortable when he has to step away from the rim defensively. Not closing out on midrange shooters quick enough.
- Baseline screen action for Ray, touch pass to Stiemsma, pass to Bass as defense rotates, fouled inside. Lovely movement again from Boston on screen action. Bass makes two.
- Boston leads 69-64 with 2:20 to play in the third. Bad stretch here again for Philly. They needed to take advantage of these minutes with Garnett on the bench and they haven’t done that. Falling apart here. Need to get it together quickly.
- Philly miss a pair of long jumpers. Young and Turner. Two offensive rebounds. Then a forced drive by Young, blocked, turnover. Philly look out of sorts offensively. Panicked. Unsure of what to do.
- Rondo with the hesitation dribble to freeze his defender, beats him, into the paint, draws the defender, finds Stiemsma, finishes inside.
- Lavoy Allen knocks down the foul line J again after popping up from the weakside since Stiemsma was zoning off of him. Bass replies with a jumper of his own and the crowd erupts again. Boston block the shot, turnover, fastbreak Boston, nothing on, drive and kick, miss, offensive rebound, Pierce holds it for the final shot, iso top of the key, Pierce against Turner, drives left, pulls up from 21 feet, drills it!
- Boston lead 75-66 after a terrific third quarter.
Like I said at the start of the night, I think this game is a must-win for Philly. I don’t think they have the talent or the mental toughness to win the final two games after falling behind 3-2. Just look at how they folded there in the third period.
This is a huge fourth quarter for Philly. Their season could be riding on it.
- Philly go scoreless in the first two minutes of the fourth. A lot of missed shots. Boston needs to take advantage and push this lead up to 15.
- Bass facing up right wing, pump fake, drives baseline, fouled. Makes two to put Boston up 79-66.
- Philly are starting to run out of time. Need to get it into single digits by the midway point. Only three minutes to shave this lead.
- Pierce gets two more FTs for Boston off his aggressive drive. 15 point game.
Terrific to see Bass have a big game tonight. Recovering from his early struggles in the playoffs. Hopefully, he’ll give Boston some good play the rest of the way (in the playoffs).
- Thad Young spinning into the paint, out of control, loses it, turnover.
- Lou Williams misses a quick jumper in transition. Bad shot. 7th missed shot for Philly in the fourth quarter.
- The Celtics defense has been excellent in the second half … especially over the last 6-8 minutes. Forcing a lot of turnovers.
- Philly final scores, four minutes into the fourth while Boston extends it’s lead from 9 to 15, Lavoy Allen cutting down the lane, fed from Lou Williams out of the right corner, layup. Rondo answers on the other end with a driving layup across the lane, fouled and the finish plus the layup.
- 16 point game with 7:30 to play.
- Lou Williams and Brand on the pick and roll, Lou Will knifes into the lane and then dumps it off to Brand who is fouled at the basket, Brand makes both. 14 point game.
- Philly had 50 points at halftime but are only at 70 five minutes into the fourth.
- Lou Williams misses the corner jumper, offensive rebound and putback from Brand. Keeps it at 14.
- Garnett finds a cutting Pietrus, Garnett 10 feet out in the post, Pietrus cutting down the middle of the lane, KG faces up and finds him, fouled on the layup attempt. Makes one FT. 15 point game. 6 minute mark.
- Pietrus gets the deflection on the interior pass, turnover, fastbreak the other way, Rondo to the rim (lovely fake of direction at the arc to free up the lane), hits it, 17 point game. Brand misses a baseline jumper but KG misses on the other end.
- 5:30 — Boston lead 89-72 — this is over.
Excellent win for Boston. They are now firmly in the drivers seat (in this series).
Philly are in a very difficult place. A dark hole. Not convinced they can find their way out of it.