Boston Celtics (7-4, 3-2) at Philadelphia 76ers (6-5,2-3)
Wednesday, March 23
8:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #12 Road Game #6
TV: ESPN, TSN
Radio: WEEI, 97.5 The Fanatic
Wells Fargo Center
Referees: Joe Crawford, James Capers, Ron Garretson
Game Thread l Chat
The series moves once again to the Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics won one big game in Philly and played a great half in another. They have a chance to close out this series now and get some rest before the next series. The Sixers are playing for their playoff lives and if the Celtics want to win this game, they have to match that effort and intensity. The wily KG has added another wrinkle to playing in Philly with his comments about "fairweather fans" and will probably use their boos as motivation. But then again in the previous games there were a lot of Celtics fans in the arena also.
Injuries are still the topic of conversation for the Celtics. Avery Bradley missed game 5 and will be a game time decision for this game. Doc isn't expecting him to play. Ray Allen stepped back into the starting lineup but clearly isn't 100% and has been playing through pain. He rolled his ankle in game 5 but has pronounced himself good to go for this one. Paul Pierce is still struggling with the sprained MCL and has been up and down in the series but you'll never hear him use the knee as an excuse. Greg Stiemsma aggravated his foot injury in game 5 but also has said he will play in this one. All of them need to somehow play through the pain one more time and then they can get a little rest.
The Sixers are going to be a desperate team and will put it all out there in this game. The Celtics can't afford to settle and must be focused and aggressive. They have to remember ubuntu and they have to play with passion and the same intensity that the Sixers play with.
We haven't heard about ubuntu for awhile but they brought back that concept after halftime of game 5 when a sermon by "Reverend" Dooling reminded them to play for each other. It gave the Celtics the boost they needed to get the win. It would be very good for them to remember ubuntu in this game as well. Teamwork and playing for each other is a great concept and it works!!
They have to be more focused, especially on the road. The Celtics are capable of winning in Philly. They proved that in game 3. The Sixers are a very dangerous team because they have nothing to lose and are playing with a lot of heart. The Celtics need to close this series out with a win in this game. They don't want to let the series go to a 7th game because you never know what can happen.
PG: Rajon Rondo..................................................SG Avery Bradley
SF: Paul Pierce ................................. ............PF Brandon Bass
Coach: Doc Rivers
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) Game time decision
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Paul Pierce vs Andre Iguodala
Both of these players have been up and down in this series. Iguodala has hit some big shots but at other times has struggled. In game 3, Pierce set the pace for the Celtics to get a big win and other times he has struggled with his shot and defense. The Celtics need Pierce to be aggressive in this game to get the win.
Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday
Rondo controlled the pace of game 5 and ran the Celtics offense to perfection in the second half. The Celtics need Rondo to be aggressive from start to finish if they hope to win this game. Rondo must control the pace of the game and has to run the Celtics offense and get them going. .
Kevin Garnett vs Spencer Hawes/Lavoy Allen
KG has been able to score around and over Hawes but has been bothered at times by Allen's defense. KG needs to be aggressive in the paint to try to get Allen to make rookie mistakes and get into foul trouble.
Brandon Bass vs Elton Brand
Bass came alive in game 5 and simply took over the game in the third period, single handedly outscoring the Sixers by himself in the quarter. Brand also had a big game but nowhere near the game that Bass had. Hopefully that will give him confidence going into this game and he will have another big game. The Celtics need it.
Keys to the Game
Defense - As always, defense is key to getting the win. 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 (especially when their shots aren't falling) and must concentrate on getting stops. In the two easy wins the Celtics have had in the series, their defense was the key.
Rebound - When the Celtics are out-rebounded they lose and when they win the battle of the boards, they win. It's as simple as that. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and when the Celtics play harder and want it more, the effort on the boards translates to the rest of their game. the Celtics simply must aggressively go after every rebound if they want to win this game.
Run the Offense - When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, the look really good on offense. When they try to do too much individually the offense gets stagnant and they go through offensive droughts. The Celtics must play as a team and trust each other. Rondo will be a big factor in this as he must set the pace and set up his teammates for open shots.
Effort and Focus - In the first two games it seemed as though the Celtics didn't get serious about playing until the final stretch. They made sloppy passes. Shot terribly. Didn't fight for rebounds and just generally looked sloppy and too laid back. In game 4, they went back to that same sloppy style of play in the second half. In games 3 and 5 they played focused and gave a good team effort and got big wins. They have to keep their focus in this one and not lapse back into sloppy play.
Be Aggressive- The Celtics have to be more aggressive in going after rebounds, going after loose balls, and driving to the basket, especially if their shots aren't falling once again. They also have to be more aggressive on defense. The team that is more aggressive has been the team that gets the win. The Celtics have to be aggressive from start to finish and go out and take this game because the Sixers definitely aren't going to give it to them.
42.0 fouls called per game
51% of fouls called on road team
1 technical called per game
Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,402 regular season and 278 playoff games, including 46 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s 278 playoff and 46 NBA Finals games are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well. This is the Celtics 7th game with Crawford this season. He officiated the Christmas day loss to the Knicks, third Wizards game, and the win over the Cavs, and the April 1 game vs the Heat, all of which were well officiated. He also called the Lakers game in LA where the Celtics shot 12 free throws to 26 for the Lakers and they let the Lakers get away with a lot of contact the entire game and the Celtics not so much. He called game 4 vs the Hawks where the Celtics shot 13 free throws to 17 for the Celtics and the refs pretty much let them play. The Celtics are 4-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Crawford. The Sixers are 3-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 29-28 and he's not influenced by the home crowd.
41.6 fouls called per game
51% of fouls called on road team
1.8 technicals called per game
The son of former NBA official James Capers Sr., who was a ref for 22 years, James Capers has officiated 969 regular season games and 44 playoff games during his 16-season NBA career. In addition to his NBA experience, Capers has six years of CBA officiating experience, including three CBA Finals and two CBA All-Star Games. Capers was the recipient of the 1998 Monarch Award as Chicago Sportsman of the Year for his career and community achievements. Capers also conducts NBA Read to Achieve programs at two Chicago Public schools. He has also volunteered to train referees for the Philippines basketball association. I've seen several posts from Lakers fans who swear he hates the Lakers. At least he has that in his favor. The Celtics are 4-0 with Capers this season. In a 100-64 win over the Raptors, the Celtics shot 12 free throws to 18 for the Raptors. The second game was against the Warriors where the Celtics shot 21 free throws to 19 for the Warriors. The 3rd win was vs Orlando in which the Celtics shot 27 free throws to 30 for the Magic. The 4th win was game 1 of this series where the Celtics shot 19 free throws to 20 for the Sixers. All 4 games were well officiated. The Celtics are 8-2 over their last 10 games with Capers. The Sixers are 1-4 this season and 3-7 over their last 10 games. His home W/L record this season is 29-22.
40.6 fouls called per game
54% of fouls called on road team
1.2 technicals called per game
Garretson, the son of former NBA official Darell Garretson (1967-94), has officiated 1,605 regular season and 182 playoff games, including 11 NBA Finals
games, over his 24 seasons in the NBA. In addition, Garretson has two years of CBA officiating experience and two years of high school officiating experience in Arizona. Garretson earned his Associate of Arts degree from Golden West Junior College. He played football and basketball at Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif. and was recognized for his athletic achievements in 2000 when he was inducted into Servite High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Garretson was one of the refs that Mark Cuban was fined $75,000 for criticizing. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Garretson. One loss this season was to the Thunder and the Celtics shot 16 free throws to 19 for the Thunder. The game was called evenly and they let them play. The second game was the OT win over the Hawks in round 1 where the Celtics shot 25 free throws to 15 for the Hawks and the officiating was good. The Sixers are 3-2 this season and 6-4 over their last 10 games with Garretson. He's pretty much a homer ref with a home W/L record this season of 40-19.
Injuries, Focus and Officiating
Injuries have been affecting the Celtics. Can Pierce overcome the knee injury to have another big game? Can Bradley be effective with the shoulder if he's even able to play? Can Ray continue to play through the pain and be effective?
The Celtics have proved that when they are focused and playing aggressively, they are the better team. Will they be focused or once again have one of their inexplicable let downs?
As we have seen in previous games, officiating can rear its ugly head and affect the outcome of the game. Will the Celtics get calls in this one? They are on the road and the calls will naturally go to the home team. The Celtics have to play through calls that go against them and just play harder to get the win.