Boston wins series 4-3 (Game 6 of 7)

Boston wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, May 12th
Game 2: Monday, May 14th
Game 3: Wednesday, May 16th
Game 4: Friday, May 18th
Game 5: Monday, May 21st
Game 6: Wednesday, May 23rd
Game 7: Saturday, May 26th

Celtics 75

(39-27, 15-18 away)

76ers 82

(35-31, 19-14 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    8:00 PM ET, May 23, 2012

    Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

    1 2 3 4 T
    BOS 19 17 20 1975
    PHI 22 11 27 2282

    Top Performers

    Bos: P. Pierce 24 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

    Phi: J. Holiday 20 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

    Jrue Holiday, 76ers edge Celtics, force Game 7

    Associated Press

    PHILADELPHIA -- The buzz at the start was for Allen Iverson's ceremonial return.

    By the end, more than 20,000 fans were on their feet and going wild for Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and the rugged-and-determined play that kept the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers alive for at least one more game.

    Yes, the Sixers are talking about Game 7 -- and they're taking this improbable postseason run back to Boston.

    Holiday scored 20 points, and Brand had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sixers to an 82-75 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night that tied the Eastern Conference semifinals.

    No team has won consecutive games in a series in which neither team has played well enough to seize control. But the Sixers were good enough to win Game 6, improving to 5-0 this postseason in games after a loss.

    "Game 7," coach Doug Collins said. "That's all we wanted was to win tonight and give ourselves a chance to go into Boston and see what happens on Saturday."

    Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo could be playing their last game together Saturday night if they can't find a way to hang onto the ball and put away a Sixers team that won't quit.

    Boston has learned three times already how difficult that can be.

    The fun started when the not-quite retired Iverson earned a roaring standing ovation when he presented the game ball.

    It ended with the song, "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," blasting through the arena.

    "I want more," Collins said. "We're going to get greedy. We want more."

    The Celtics posted ugly numbers across the board: Blame the loss on the 33 percent shooting, the 17 turnovers or the 3 for 14 3-point shooting. Either way, there's enough to go around. Pierce had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Garnett had 20 points and 11 boards.

    "We found a way to stay in the game, for the most part," Pierce said.

    They did because the Sixers again failed to put up the sparkling numbers in the box score usually required for a deep postseason run. They missed 8 of 9 3-pointers, shot a woeful 17 of 28 from the free-throw line and had 12 turnovers.

    But when the Sixers really needed that game-changing basket, there was Evan Turner twisting and fighting through defenders down the lane. When the Sixers needed a stop, there was Brand, ripping a rebound away from Boston, even with painful neck and shoulder injuries that keep him awake at night.

    "When you get out there, you don't feel much," Brand said. "You've got the adrenaline flowing. You're banging and fighting. That's why coach has confidence in me to play 34 minutes."

    The Sixers wrote "Huddle Up and Fight" on their locker room chalkboard.

    They did just that and are now one win away from reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2001.

    Iverson was the MVP of that run.

    Maybe a little of that ol' A.I. magic rubbed off in Game 6.

    Unlike Game 5, when the Sixers collapsed in the third quarter and blew a lead, they suddenly found a groove in front of 20,403 fans.

    The Sixers started hitting free throws, kept turnovers to a minimum (two), and fed the ball to a starting lineup that had been largely outproduced by a fantastic bench.

    Turner was fouled on a go-ahead layup but missed from the line. That made the Sixers 5 of 13 while the Celtics were 14 of 14.

    Iguodala split two defenders and threw down a ferocious dunk over Pierce to draw the foul. He made his first free throw after missing his first four and the Sixers led by five.

    Pierce led the parade to the line for the Boston. He made his first 11 attempts for a Celtics team that was 17 of 17 through three quarters. The Celtics made only 19 field goals through three.

    "We've got to move the ball and continue to play the defense that we've been playing," Pierce said.

    The Sixers also couldn't find their way from the 3-point line and missed their first six attempts until Iguodala nailed one for a 58-52 lead.

    Garnett caught some heat after calling Philly fans "fair weather" after Game 5 in Boston.

    Well, the forecast called for thunderous cheers after Iguodala buried his 3.

    That helped the Sixers take a 60-56 lead into the fourth and put them 12 minutes away from Game 7.

    This time, the Sixers weren't blowing a lead.

    Turner, who never met a clutch attempt he didn't like, went right to left on a drive down the lane for a nine-point lead. The 6-foot-4 Holiday brushed off the 4-inch difference and went high over Garnett for a one-handed bucket and an 11-point lead.

    "Someone else was talking bad about our fans, so it was good to get this victory for them," Brand said.

    While the Sixers swapped shot-makers on almost every possession, the Celtics never found that third and fourth option behind Pierce and Garnett.

    "We never really established Kevin," coach Doc Rivers said. "Even though Kevin had points, it wasn't the type of points we needed."

    Rondo had tortured the Sixers over the first five games but was limited to nine points (4 of 14) and six assists.

    He'll need to return to form at home for the Celtics to have a chance at avoiding the upset.

    "It's been a tough series. It's down to a Game 7," Garnett said. "We've played well at times, they've played well at times. But now, we'll take it home and see what we can do."

    Iguodala and Turner scored 12 points. Lou Williams had 11 and the Sixers outscored Boston 42-16 in the paint.

    "I just want our guys to play with no fear," Collins said.

    Collins had the Sixers watch a highlight video from Game 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday. The Sixers blew a 3-1 lead in that series and were forced to win Game 7 at Boston to reach the finals -- which they did.

    Thirty years later, the Sixers get to try again.

    Game notes

    Iverson cupped his hand to his ear and received the loudest ovation of the night. He watched the game from a suite and his eyes watered up when he was shown later in the game on the big screen as the crowd, thousands wearing a No. 3 jersey, went wild and chanted, "MVP!" Iverson posted on Twitter, "You can always come home again!!!" ... Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue was famously stepped over by Iverson in the 2001 NBA Finals. ... Celtics G Avery Bradley (shoulder) sat out. Rivers said Bradley and Ray Allen are both considered day-to-day. ... Collins was stunned Iguodala was left off the NBA's all-defensive squad. Collins said Iguodala should have been "no worse than a second-team defender." ... Mickael Pietrus hit the only 3 of the half for either team at the buzzer to send the Celtics into the break ahead 36-33.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 75 82
    FGM-FGA 26-78 (.333) 32-70 (.457)
    3PM-3PA 3-14 (.214) 1-9 (.111)
    FTM-FTA 20-23 (.870) 17-28 (.607)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-48 7-37
    Assists 14 22
    Turnovers 17 12
    Steals 5 7
    Blocks 2 6
    Fast Break Points 13 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (0/0) 16 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 6 11

    Top Performers

    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 24
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Jrue Holiday Holiday
    Points: 20
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0

    Research Notes

    The 76ers notched their seventh win of this postseason on Wednesday, tied for the second most ever by an eight seed (16-team playoff format began in 1983-84).
    The Celtics ran 17 isolation plays and 14 pick-and-rolls in Game 5. The Celtics had 34 more pick-and-roll plays than isolation plays in the first five games of the series, never running more isolations in a single game. With a limited and ineffective pick-and-roll game, Rajon Rondo was held to fewer than 10 assists (6) for the second time in his last 35 games.
    The 76ers outscored the Celtics by 12 points on pick-and-roll plays in Game 6. The team that has scored the most pick-and-roll points has now won every game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
    Contributing to the Celtics' woes on the interior was Kevin Garnett's reluctance to go inside. All 20 of Garnett's field goal attempts in Game 6 were from 10 feet and beyond, with an average distance of 17 feet. The 20 attempts from 10-plus feet are four more than Garnett's previous high with the Celtics. Before Wednesday, Garnett had 126 games with the Celtics with 15 or more field goal attempts. In all of those games, Garnett had at least one shot inside of 10 feet.
    The Celtics shot under 40 percent from inside 5 feet for the first time since Game 2 of the 2009-10 NBA Finals against the Lakers. The 76ers, on the other hand, shot 63 percent from inside 5 feet, their best rate so far in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
    The Celtics and 76ers combined for just 28 points in the 2nd quarter. It's tied for the 2nd-fewest points in a quarter by both teams this postseason. Each of the four lowest-scoring quarters this postseason have included either the Celtics or 76ers.

    ESPN Stats & Information