In possibly the ugliest game of the postseason so far, the Philadelphia 76ers executed down the stretch and got a critical road victory with a 82-81 win over Boston in Game 2 tonight. The Celtics and Sixers bombarded the rims in TD Garden with a barrage of bricks, with both teams shooting under 42 percent from the field.
The game was incredibly uneventful until things picked up in the fourth quarter, due mostly to awful shooting displays and numerous turnovers on both sides. Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 18 points, knocking down four 3-pointers and allowing his team to head back to Philadelphia with the series tied at one game apiece. Andre Iguodala finished with 13 and Evan Turner added 10. Philly was down 38-36 at halftime, but outscored the Celtics by ten in the third quarter as Boston could only muster 11 points. These measly 11 points followed a 12-point second quarter, but the Sixers’ eight point advantage heading into the fourth didn’t last long. Kevin Garnett was a leader once again with 15 points and 12 rebounds, but no one else was able to step up offensively for the Celtics. Ray Allen had 17 off the bench, but Paul Pierce only had seven and Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley only had eight each. Pierce went 2-for-9 from the floor and Rondo was 4-for-12. If the Celtics’ shooting struggles continue for these two key players, Boston will have their hands full against the defensively oriented 76ers.
Philly only won by one point, but Boston hit two 3-pointers in the game’s closing seconds to make the final score appear closer than it was. Down the stretch, the Sixers remained resilient and out-executed the veteran Celtics to get the critical road victory. Although they did benefit from a ridiculously difficult Lavoy Allen turnaround jumper with 0.9 seconds on the shot clock, a terrible no-call (Evan Turner travel that wasn’t called) and a questionable call considering the circumstances (Kevin Garnett’s illegal screen on Andre Iguodala) down the stretch, Boston didn’t do what it had to in crunch time and the Sixers capitalized. The Celtics failed to get the ball to Garnett or Pierce in the game’s final possessions, settling for Ray Allen step back jumpers and turning the ball over. The Sixers also won this game on the boards, out-rebounding Boston 47-36.
With the series shifting back to Philly, there has to be concern on the Celtics’ sidelines. Boston looked like a completely uninspired team and no one could score on Philly’s defense except KG. Andre Iguodala has shut down Paul Pierce in the series and Rondo hasn’t produced offensively either. Avery Bradley also reaggravated his shoulder injury at the beginning of the game, so if he misses extended time again, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams will be able to put up good numbers again. Bradley has already been playing with a dislocated shoulder, so if the injury continues to bother him, the Sixers will have a big advantage on the perimeter. Boston needs to come out with renewed energy and make a statement in Game 3 to ensure the Sixers don’t get their hopes up with back-to-back games at home. Philly’s defensive strategy has kept them even so far, but at some point, enough has to be enough and the Celtics will need to reassert themselves as the favorites in the series.