Philadelphia 76ers (6-4, 2-2) at Boston Celtics (6-4,2-2)
Monday, May 21, 2012
7:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #11, Home Game #6
Radio: WEEI, 97.5 The Fanatic
Referees: Ken Mauer, Ed Malloy, Rodney Mott
Game Thread l Chat
The Celtics have to be kicking themselves for giving up an 18 point lead in game 4. This could be the close out game and they could be looking forward to getting some rest before the next series, especially with the Heat series now also tied at 2. The Celtics are now in for a fight to win the next 2 out of 3.
The Celtics can't blame anyone except themselves for that loss. They got complacent and eased up on their defense. They also allowed the Sixers to crash the boards and get second chance points. They got sloppy with the ball and turned it over, allowing the Sixers to get fast break points.
The Celtics have been saying all the right things to indicate that they are taking this game seriously and they are focused on getting the win. The Celtics must do more than talk it, they have to come out focused and stay focused throughout the game. They have to avoid the let downs that have plagued them so far in this series and play team ball from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Most of all, they can't let up on defense.
Nagging injuries to Pierce, Allen, Bradley, Stiemsma, and Pietrus have slowed them down. The most troubling is Bradley who has a recurring shoulder injury that is limiting his ability to score. He is still effective on defense but hasn't been able to hit his shots or cut to the basket, which made him so effective before the injury. Paul Pierce seems to be playing well in spite of the injury and hopefully that will continue in this game. Ray Allen seems to struggle the most, even missing free throws, which usually are automatic for him. The Celtics have had 2 days off and that should help them.
The Celtics should be dominating this series but they aren't mostly because they have not been playing good basketball. In the one game they actually played hard and seemed focused, they got a blow out win. Let's hope that same focused team comes out in this one.
SF: Paul Pierce ....................................... PF: Brandon Bass
Coach: Doc Rivers
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) probable (but game time decision)
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Paul Pierce vs Andre Iguodala
Both of these players have been up and down in the series. It seems that when Iguodala has a big game, Pierce struggles and when Pierce has a big game the Iguodala struggles. The Celtics need a big game out of their Captain if they want to win this game.
Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday
As has been the case so many times, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. When Rondo is aggressive the Celtics seem to click on all cylinders. When he is passive, they struggle to score and seem to lapse into trying to do too much as individuals instead of playing team balls. They will need him to be aggressive and to set the pace for the game. Holiday has been playing very well for the Sixers and so Rondo will need to defend well, along with running the offense effectively.
Kevin Garnett vs Spencer Hawes
KG has been on another level in these playoffs but struggled in the last game. Whether it was fatigue or just an off game, the Celtics need KG to be aggressive on both ends of the court. KG's defense and rebounding are huge for the Celtics.
Key Off the Bench
Ray Allen has been playing through pain and has struggled on both ends of the court. With Avery Bradley also struggling with a shoulder injury, the Celtics need Ray to somehow contribute more.
Michael Pietrus has been hitting some big shots as well as playing great defense. Hopefully he can continue to contribute and give the Celtics quality minutes off the bench so Doc can rest his starters.
Lou Williams gives the Sixers a boost off the bench scoring almost 13 points per game. He came up really big for the Sixers in their come back win in game 4. Williams can give the Sixers a big boost, or he can shoot them out of the game.
Lavoy Allen has been designated as the KG stopper for the Sixers and he has done a good job of it. He has also hit some big shots for them and the Celtics need to go at Allen early to try to get him into foul trouble.
Keys to the Game
Defense - As always, defense is key to winning. Period. The Celtics must play tough in your face defense from start to finish. They can't let themselves get caught up in a shoot out and must concentrate on getting stops. The offense feeds off the defense and so tough defense is absolutely the key to a win and the series. The Celtics let their defense slip in game 4, which allowed the Sixers to make a big run to win the game.
Rebound - The Sixers are a good rebounding team The Celtics can be a good rebounding team when they decide to put out the effort to do so. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics have got to crash the boards as a team. The team that wins the rebounding battle will more than likely will win the war.
Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics tend to turn the ball over way too much. The Celtics need to keep their focus and make smart passes and avoide the costly turnovers that almost always lead to a score for the Sixers. In game 4, they turned the ball over 17 times and those turnovers were a big reason for the Sixers being able to make the run to win the game.
Bench Play - The Celtics need to get quality minutes from their bench. With the injuries and fatigue becoming a factor as they move further into the playoffs, They have to find a way to rest their starters without giving up a lead or digging a hole. The Celtics bench was outscored 44-12 in game 4. The reserves need to contribute more.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to stay aggressive. They have to be more aggressive going to the hoop and not settling for outside shots. They have to be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, and in going after rebounds. They seem to lapse into being passive and allowing the Sixers to be the aggressors and the more aggressive team is more than likely going to get the win.
Veteran NBA official Ken Mauer has officiated 1,497 regular season, 119 playoff, and nine Finals games, during his 25-season career. He was also a member of the crew that officiated the 1993 Europe Tour in London and the 2005 Denver All-Star game. Mauer’s resume includes six years of CBA officiating experience, nine years of collegiate officiating experience and 12 years of high school officiating experience in Minnesota. Mauer is very quick to call technicals and in one game, once ejected Doc less than 3 minutes into a game, and that was before the new "Respect the Game" rules. In a recent Timberwolves game he might have set the record by calling 5 technicals in a 10 second span. The Celtics have to be on their best behavior with Mauer calling the game. Mauer was one of the refs charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the controversial Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided, giving the Heat the title. In a Suns/OKC game last season, Mauer told Zabian Dowdell not to be a bitch about the calls. Dowdell asked him if he'd say that off the court and Mauer ejected him from the game for it. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Mauer officiating. The win this season was against the Grizzlies where the refs let them play for the most part and the Celtics shot 21 free throws to 16 for the Grizzlies. One loss was to the Sixers where once again they let them play and the Celtics shot 18 free throws to 15 for the Sixers. The other loss was to the Hawks where 18 fouls were called on the Celtics and 8 on the Hawks and the officiating was terrible. This is his first game for the Celtics in the playoffs. The Sixers are 5-1 this season and 6-4 in the last 10 games with Mauer. It's tough to know which Mauer will show up - the good one that lets them play or the bad one that tries to control the game. His home W/L record this season is 32-23.
Malloy has officiated 577 regular season NBA games and 22 playoff games over the past nine seasons. He officiated his first two Finals games during the 2010-11 season. Prior to joining the NBA, Malloy officiated for one season in the
NBA D-League, three seasons in the CBA and three seasons in the WNBA. He worked the 2002 DLeague Finals and the 2001 CBA Finals. In 2003, when Doc was with Orlando, Malloy called a technical foul on Andrew DeClercq for staring. Doc called it one of the worst calls he ever saw (boy has he seen a lot worse since then!)and he said that he felt that Malloy had been intimidated all night. Fast forward to the Celtics game in Utah last season when Malloy, no longer intimidated, called 2 quick technicals on Doc and ejected him. Here is Doc's version of those calls.
"I just told Ed [Malloy], please keep officiating the game," said Rivers. "That’s all I said. I thought the play before [the technical] was a clear travel in front of him. So I just said, ‘Hey Ed, it’d be nice if you’d keep officiating throughout.’ He gave me a tech. Then I said, ‘That’s the best call you’ve made all night.’ Usually, it’s nice to earn them, but [Monday's technicals were] another bad call."
Malloy was also on the crew that officiated game 1 of the Miami series in the 2010 playoffs where 5 technicals were called and Kevin Garnett was ejected. He also ejected Paul Pierce in 2011 game 1 vs the Heat. The Celtics are 2-1 this season including game 2 vs the Hawks in the playoffs. The Celtics shot 31 free throws in that game vs 20 for the Hawks. The loss was in Dallas where the Celtics shot 11 free throws to 14 for the Mavs and they let them play for the most part. The win was vs New Jersey where the Nets shot 28 free throws to 17 for the Celtics. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Malloy as an official. The Sixers are are 2-0 this season and 4-6 over their last 10 games with Malloy as a ref. His home W/L record is 38-20.
Rodney Mott has officiated 870 regular season games and seven playoff games during his 14-season NBA career. Prior to joining the NBA officiating staff, Mott spent four years officiating in the CBA, eight years officiating in the Los Angeles Pro Am basketball league, three years officiating at the junior college level, and four years officiating high school in San Diego. In 2007, Mott was suspended without pay for 3 games for making an obscene gesture and inappropriate comment toward a fan. Mott challenged the charges and said that they used him as a scapegoat to take attention away from other issues, but the suspension stood. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Mott. One loss this season was at Dallas and there weren't many fouls called on either team. The Mavs shot 14 free throws to 11 for the Celtics. The second loss was to the Raptors where the Raptors shot 31 free throws to 19 for the Celtics. The win was over the Rockets who shot 29 free throws to 31 for the Celtics and the officiating was good. The Sixers are 3-2 this season and 5-5 with Mott in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 38-21.
Focus, Officiating, and Home Court
The Celtics need to stay focused and not let up in this game. Whether we like it or not, officiating does have an effect on the games. If the officiating is bad, the Celtics must play through it and not allow it to take them out of the game. And finally, the Celtics have home court and hopefully they will get a boost from the home crowd. Be very loud Celtics fans!!!