Celtics

Sixers win 82-81, tie series

763104.jpg

Sixers win 82-81, tie series

BOSTON The Boston Celtics' "small ball" lineup once again came up huge in the fourth quarter.

Philadelphia refused to let another strong performance go to waste as they held on for an 82-81 game 2 victory. The series is now tied at 1-1, with games 3 and 4 in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

The C's got a slew of big shots down the stretch, but the Sixers were able to match or surpass those buckets with their own big plays.

Ray Allen had a chance to put the C's ahead with less than a minute to play, but his step-back jumper rimmed in and out as the Sixers grabbed yet another rebound.

Allen and Kevin Garnett hit a couple of 3's in the game's final seconds, but it was too little too late as the C's now must win at least one game in Philadelphia to move on to the Eastern Conference finals.

There were a slew of turning point moments, with none looming as large as the blocking call by official Michael Smith on Kevin Garnett with 10 seconds to play and the Celtics trailing, 78-75.

For most of the game, the Celtics needed someone, anyone, to breath some life into a team that seemed to be in what C's coach Doc Rivers calls "Cool Celtics" mode.

Boston got that much needed lift from Mickael Pietrus, who was more than overdue for a big game shooting the ball.

After missing two of his first three shots, he finally got a 3-pointer to go down that cut Philadelphia's lead down to three points.

Moments later, he drilled a second 3-pointer to cut the Sixers lead down to just two points.

For several possessions, the C's just couldn't get that one big shot they needed to take control of the game from Philadelphia.

After a dunk by Avery Bradley (he missed the entire third quarter when he re-aggravated his left shoulder), a slew of empty possessions for the Celtics were came between a pair of free throws by Thaddeus Young and a tightly contested 17-foot, step-back jumper by Andre Iguodala that put Philly ahead, 65-61.

Boston cut the deficit in half with a jumper by Garnett, and tied the game at 65 on a tough 3-foot turn-around from Garentt with 4:33 to play.

After seemingly coasting through the first half, the wheels began to fall off for the Celtics in the third quarter as Philadelphia went on a 10-2 run to take their largest of the game at that point, 51-47, with 2:37 to play in the third.

The Sixers weren't done.

They reeled off six more points to take their first double-digit lead of the game, 57-47. Pierce cut the deficit down to eight following a pair of free throws with 2.4 seconds in the third which ended with the C's behind 57-49.

The beginning of the game was a 180-degree turn for the Celtics compared to how they began Game 1, as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead on Monday that put the Sixers on their heels quickly.

Philadelphia fought back, and even took the lead in the second quarter on two separate occasions (29-27 and 36-35).

However, the C's got a rare 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play in the half which ended with the Celtics on top, 38-36.

Boston's Brandon Bass, who has had his struggles throughout the playoffs shooting the ball, came out and made his first three shots - all jumpers.

From there, it only got worse as he went the rest of the half without a made field goal despite taking nine more shots for a 3-for-12 shooting line at the half.

For too many stretches in the first half, the Sixers took a lot of Josh Smith-like shots (bad shots, early in the shot clock) that contributed to them spending most of the first half trailing.

The one Philly player who seemed to be in a good flow shooting the ball for most of the first half was point guard Jrue Holiday who is in the score-first mold of today's playmakers.

He had 13 points at the half on 5-for-9 shooting along with three assists and just one turnover.

Rajon Rondo usually saves his best for the second half, but he too had a decent first half with four points, eight assists and three rebounds.

Boston started the third without Avery Bradley, who re-aggravated a sore left rotator cuff injury. Replacing him with the first group was Ray Allen, the may that Bradley replaced in the starting lineup.

The C's forced four turnovers in less than three minutes, but they had little to show for it with their lead increasing to no more than five points (43-38).

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

MORE:

Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE