5/23/12 – In Wednesday's must win game 6 the Sixers returned to their home court with the season on the line. Philly fell apart in the second half of game 5 due to bad shooting and sloppy turnovers. In order to force a game 7, they would need to find a way to put together a balanced scoring effort for all four quarters. The veteran Boston Celtics were looking to close out the series on the road, which historically hasn't been so easy for them. Since the big 3 (Pierce, Garnett, Allen) joined up in 2007, they are 2-10 in road elimination games. The Sixers at least had this going for them, to go along with a ruckus Wells Fargo Center and an appearance by fan favorite Allen Iverson. The stage was set for the Sixers to tie it up, they just needed to execute.
As most of the series has gone, game 6 would be very closely contested. Throughout the game there were 11 ties and 6 lead changes. The Sixers were up after the 1st quarter 22-19, but in the second quarter they missed 9 straight shots and allowed Boston to take the lead. However neither side pulled away due to excellent defensive efforts from both teams. Boston led 36-33 at the half in a really low scoring affair. The Sixers were very balanced, receiving contributions from multiple players. Jrue Holiday was particularly impressive and showed great ability to drive to the hoop throughout the game. Paul Pierce was leading the way for Boston and was taking advantage of his many trips to the line. After trailing at the half, the Sixers would take back the early in the 3rd quarter. Neither team was shooting particularly well, the Sixers' only 3 of the game came from Iggy with 1:00 left in the 3rd. But the difference was Philadelphia's ability to get to the hoop. They were resilient in the paint all game, outscoring Boston 42-16. At the end of the third the Sixers led 50-46. In the fourth quarter they kept rolling and would expand their lead to 11 courtesy of a Lou Will jumper. They continued to attack the hoop and were defending very well. Rajon Rondo wasn't as effective as usual this game due to the well executed trapping of Philly's defense. Boston kept fighting, but the Sixers were able to maintain the lead and sink their free throws down the stretch. Philadelphia survives to force a game a 7. Final Sixers 82-75.
1. Jrue- 38:51 mins., 20 pts., 3 rebs., 6 asts., 2 stls., 2 TOs
2. Brand – 34:20 mins., 13 pts., 10 rebs., 1 stl., 1 blk.
3. Turner – 38:24 mins., 12 pts., 9 rebs., 4 asts., 1 blk., 4 TOs
4. Iggy - 37:44 mins., 12 pts., 6 rebs., 2 asts., 1 stl., 1 blk.
5. Lou – 26:58 mins., 11 pts., 6 asts., 2 TOs
6. Hawes – 20:45 mins., 9 pts., 3 rebs., 2 asts., 1 stl., 1 TO
7. Lavoy – 18:55 mins., 3 pts., 3 rebs., 1 ast., 1 stl., 2 blks.
8. Thad – 11:24 mins., 2 pts., 3 rebs., 1 ast., 1 stl., 1 blk., 1 TO
9. Meeks – 12:40 mins., 0 pts., 2 TOs
Paul Pierce – 24 pts., 10 rebs., 3 asts., 1 blk., 4 TOs
Kevin Garnett – 20 pts., 11 rebs., 1 stl., 1 blk., 3 TOs
Rajon Rondo – 9 pts., 9 rebs., 6 asts., 2 stls., 4 TOs
Ray Allen – 9 pts., 3 rebs., 3 TOs
Brandon Bass – 8 pts., 5 rebs.
The Sixers were able to pull this one out due to their great defense and willingness to drive to the hoop. They never got comfortable with only shooting jumpers and dominated the Celtics in the paint. Brand had another great game with a double-double and Hawes was also really efficient. Philly's defense of Rondo was crucial in this game, but they also did a good job of tiring him out on offense with Jrue and Turner taking him to the hoop. What they needed was a complete game and balanced scoring. Which is exactly what they did in game 6. The Sixers now have the opportunity to play in a game 7 with a chance to appear in the Eastern Conference Finals on the line. No one thought they could make it this far, but they've shown that when they execute and play stellar defense, they can't beat the Celtics. Game 7 in Boston will truly be a tough test, but anything can happen at this point. Game's on Saturday, go Sixers. More to come…
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