5/21/12 – In Monday's game 5 matchup the Philadelphia 76ers returned to the TD Garden in Boston with the series tied 2-2. The young Sixers were pumped coming off a huge win in Friday's game 4. That game featured in improbable second half comeback by Philly to stun the veteran Boston Celtics lineup. For the Sixers to take the series lead in Boston, it would require a more balanced scoring effort. They couldn't afford to go down big early and needed to find a way to break/survive the Celtics' scoring runs. They did a good job in game 4 of defending the paint, driving to the hoop, and turning rebounds into fast-break points. Game 5 would prove to be another back & forth contest in this unpredictable series.
As bad as the first half went for the Sixers in game 4, it would prove to be the best part of their game 5. From the start Philadelphia was shooting the ball very well, the bigs in particular were knocking down shots. Elton Brand, whose play had been slumping as he plays with a sore neck, hit 6 of his first 8 shots and Lavoy Allen went 6 for 6 for the game. Even Hawes managed to score in double figures. Rondo had an excellent game and kept the score pretty close, but after 1 the Sixers led 27-23. In the 2nd the Celtics began to battle back as Garnett picked up the slack from his poor performance in game 4. But Philly surprisingly was shooting the ball really well and held on to a 50-47 lead at the half. The Sixers played a good first half and had been in control for the most part of the game. They needed to keep the pressure on and play a complete game, something that they really struggle with. They shot the ball uncharacteristically well in the first half, which carried them despite only shooting 2 free throws. To start the 3rd quarter the Sixers kept rolling. Then the game would change drastically. Iggy stole the ball and got grabbed by a Celtic, who was called for a 'clear path' foul. This meant Iggy had two shots at the line and the Sixers would keep possession after. They had the chance to extend their lead to ten, but it would play out very differently. Iggy missed both free throws and the Sixers would go on to turn the ball over 5 times on their next 6 possessions. Boston went on a 10-0 run to take the lead, led by Rondo penetrating the lane and dishing to cutting big men. This was the Boston offensive attack for most of the 3rd, and led to a scoring outburst by PF Brandon Bass. In the 3rd quarter he alone he had 18 of his 27 points. Rookie F/C Greg Stiemsma also went 5-5 in the quarter for all of his 10 points. Boston outscored the Sixers 28-16 in the quarter as they completely fell apart and trailed 75-66 after 3. In the 4th, the game got out of hand as the Celtics went up by as much as 20. The Sixers hot shooting in the first half didn't translate to second as they once again had trouble scoring the ball. Iggy and Lou forced up too many bad shots. Both finished 3-10 for the game, while Boston was really efficient. Philly couldn't do much of anything, as the veteran Celtics closed them out at home. Final score Boston 101-85.
1. Brand – 29:53 mins., 19 pts., 3 rebs., 1 ast., 2 stls., 1 blk., 1 TO
2. Lavoy – 18:39 mins., 12 pts., 2 rebs., 1 TO
3. Turner – 36:42 mins., 11 pts., 10 rebs., 3 asts., 1 TO
4. Jrue – 35:31 mins., 10 pts., 3 rebs., 7 asts., 1 stl., 4 TOs
5. Hawes – 24:18 mins., 10 pts., 5 rebs., 3 asts., 3 TOs
6. Lou – 27:50 mins., 9 pts., 2 rebs., 2 asts., 1 stl.
7. Iggy – 35:19 mins., 8 pts., 6 rebs., 3 asts., 3 stls., 1 TO
8. Thad – 18:12 mins., 6 pts., 4 rebs., 1 ast., 4 TOs
9. Meeks – 11:34 mins., 0 pts., 2 rebs., 1 TO
10. Xavier Silas – 2:01 mins., 0 pts., 1 reb.
Brandon Bass – 27 pts., 6 rebs., 1 ast., 2 stls., 2 blks., 2 TOs
Kevin Garnett – 20 pts., 6 rebs., 2 stls., 2 TOs
Paul Pierce – 16 pts., 4 rebs., 3 asts., 1 stl., 1 TO
Rajon Rondo – 13 pts., 4 rebs., 14 asts., 2 stls., 3 TOs
Greg Stiemsma - 10 pts., 2 rebs., 3 blks., 1 TO
A bad 3rd quarter doomed the Sixers as they let game 5 get away from them. They were not only leading, but were in control of the game for the entire first half and had the opportunity to go up double digits. But then they got comfortable and sloppy. Iggy clanked two crucial foul shots, and then carelessness turned into 5 turnovers. The Celtics stole the momentum and took control of the game. The Sixers tried to shoot their way back, but their inconsistent shooting and shot selection prevented them from making a dent in the growing Celtics lead. Rajon Rondo was 'unguardable' in game 5 and absolutely toyed with the Philly defense, especially in the 3rd.
- Despite their great shooting in the first half, the Sixers can't rely on shots as their only form of offense. Everyone knows how inconsistent they are, and when you don't drive to the hoop, you don't get to the line. The Sixers shot 10-16 from the line after only attempting 2 in the first half. Meanwhile the Celtics went 26-33 from the stripe. They need to keep driving to the net throughout the game in order to get easy points and get the Celtics' valuable starting lineup into foul trouble.
- Lavoy Allen had a great game despite only playing 18+ minutes. He continued to impress both offensively and defensively. He did get into foul trouble early and was forced to sit. But then in the 2nd half, Doug Collins left him on the bench as the Sixers got dominated by PF Brandon Bass. Lavoy has proven how valuable he is to this team on the defensive end and should've played a lot more. Also, Thad had a really bad game after playing so well in games 3 + 4.
Now the Sixers are faced with an elimination game 6 in South Philly at the Wells Fargo Center. In order to extend this series to a game 7, the bottom line remains that they need to play a complete game. All 4 quarters, not just one half. Defensively they will need to do a much better job of defending Rondo and the Boston bigs. On offense they need to keep the Celtics guessing, pushing the ball in transition when possible. And in the half court shooting open shots, driving, cutting, and smart passing, are essential if they want to be able to put together a consistent scoring effort throughout the game. They can't get comfortable with jumpers or the season will soon be over. Next game Wednesday 8:00 ESPN. More to come…
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