NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, May 16th (All times eastern)
(4) Boston Celtics (1-1) at (8) Philadelphia 76ers (1-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Philadelphia has already proven to be a much tougher task for the Boston Celtics than most expected.
The younger and far more athletic 76ers escaped Beantown with a split and will now have an opportunity to take control of their Eastern Conference semifinals series with their more ballyhooed rivals in the pivotal Game 3 at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.
In fact, you could make the argument that it was the Celtics that actually did "the escaping" during the first two games in Boston since the Sixers outplayed them for the majority of the time.
Both games in the Bay State were razor close with each team earning a one- point victory.
Evan Turner scored the go-ahead layup with his back to the basket Monday night as Philadelphia survived a frantic finish to beat the Celtics, 82-81, and even the set at a game apiece.
Jrue Holiday scored 18 points, Andre Iguodala had 13 as the Sixers nearly let another double-digit lead go to waste before pulling away in the final minute.
Philadelphia was a plus-21 with unheralded rookie big man Lavoy Allen on the floor. The Temple product finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and provided solid, if unspectacular defense on C's star Kevin Garnett.
"I think we play some of our best basketball on the road," said 76ers coach Doug Collins. "We had to win on the road to get in the playoffs."
Garnett, who had 29 points in Boston's Game 1 win Saturday, was called for a moving screen with 10 seconds left and the Celtics trailing by three. The offensive foul, which cleared Paul Pierce for a pass up top, allowed the Sixers to take a five-point lead on free throws with just 8.5 seconds left.
"That's the name of the game sometimes," said Pierce. "They make a call, you got to live with it."
Garnett hit a meaningless three at the buzzer for the one-point final margin as the Sixers won a playoff game in Boston for the first time since Game 7 of Eastern Conference Finals in 1982.
"You play a game like this," said Collins, "and it's worth like 10 regular season games in terms of experience."
Turner, one of Collins' core of young players, slipped past two defenders and spun his back to the rim on the left side, throwing the ball up for a bucket that made it 76-75 with 40.4 seconds remaining.
"I saw the isolation. I just knew I had to make a play for the team," said Turner.
It put the eighth-seeded Sixers up for good and came after a flurry of threes by both teams that had the score seesawing back and forth.
Holiday had one for Philadelphia, but it was sandwiched by a corner try by Avery Bradley and another at the top by Ray Allen that gave Boston a one-point lead.
Allen later hit a leaning 3 with 3.5 ticks left to get the Celtics within two, but Jodie Meeks' free throws at the other end pushed it to four. The Sixers went 6-for-6 at the line in the last 12 seconds.
Rajon Rondo, whose eighth career playoff triple-double led fourth-seeded Boston back from a 10-point deficit in Saturday's 92-91 win, had 13 assists, eight points and seven rebounds in this one.
"I don't like the fact that we took, to me, almost three quarters to play the right way offensively," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "We knew the blueprint before the game. It took us three quarters to get into it."
Allen had 17 points off the bench and Garnett scored 15 with 12 rebounds. His offensive foul late in the fourth left a bad taste in Rivers' mouth.
"I wasn't fond of it," said Rivers, who said it looked like refs were letting the same thing go all night.
"Listen, we put ourself in that position," he said. "At the end of the day, I say it all the time, if you put yourself in a position to let someone else do something, then you can lose games. And that's what happened."
Both teams are dealing with a host of injuries. For Boston, Allen is playing with bone spurs in his right ankle and Piece has a sprained MCL in his left knee while Bradley is dealing with a dislocated left shoulder that keeps popping out.
Philadelphia power forward Elton Brand has admitted he has been dealing with a neck injury and has been ineffective while standout reserve Thaddeus Young has had his game curbed by shin and right ankle problems.
The Sixers are 3-0 so far in the postseason on their home floor and will be hosting a second round playoff game on Wednesday for the first time since 2003 when Allen Iverson was the toast of South Philly.
This rivalry began all the way back in 1949-50 when the Sixers franchise called Syracuse home. Since the team relocated to the City of Brotherly Love, the 76ers and Celtics have met in the postseason 11 different times and eight of those were Eastern Conference finals. Boston has taken seven of the 11 series and is 51-44 overall in the playoffs against the Philadelphia franchise.
Game 4 of the set will take place Friday in Philadelphia.
05/16 10:55:50 ET