Philadelphia 76ers (7-5, 3-3) at Boston Celtics (7-5,3-3)
Saturday, May 26, 2012
8:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #7, Home Game #4
TV: ABC, TSN2
Radio: WEEI, 97.5 The Fanatic, ABC Radio, ESPN Radio
Referees: Monty McCutchen, Tony Brothers, Mike Callahan
The Celtics have blown several chances to close this series out and rest up for the next round and so here we are at another game 7. The Heat, on the other hand, are the team sitting back and getting rest while the Celtics duke it out tor the privilege to play again on Monday in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics were dealt a big blow when they lost Avery Bradley for the rest of the post season. Other players must step up to help fill the void he leaves, especially on defense. The Celtics especially need both Keyon Dooling and Mickael Pietrus to step up and give the Celtics some quality minutes. They also need Ray Allen's balky ankles to ease up enough to allow him to play well in this game.
This Celtics team is well acquainted with game 7's, the Sixers, not so much. Having game 7 at home is one bonus for the Celtics. The crowd will be loud and behind them. Hopefully it will give them a lift. Another bonus is the fact that they have had 2 days off and the Celtics play best on more than one day rest. Home court in itself isn't a guarantee of a win. The Celtics have already lost at home to the Sixers once in this series. They can't just depend on being at home, they have to be the team that plays harder and smarter.
PG: Rajon Rondo 15.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 12.5 APG, + 24.45 EFF *
SG: Ray Allen 9.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, +9.10 EFF
C: Kevin Garnett 19.3 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, +24.08 EFF
SF: Paul Pierce 19.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, + 20.58 EFF
PF: Brandon Bass 11.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.4 APG, +11.75 EFF
* Playoff Statistics
Coach: Doc Rivers
Paul Pierce (knee) probable
Mickael Pietrus (hamstring) probable
Avery Bradley (shoulder) out
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Greg Stiemsma (feet) probable
Keyon Dooling (illness) game time decision
PG: Jrue Holiday 15.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.8 APG, +17.42 EFF
SG: Evan Turner 11.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, +11.83 EFF
C: Spencer Hawes 9.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, +12.75 EFF
SF: Andre Iguodala 12.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, +13.83 EFF
PF: Elton Brand 8.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, +10.50 EFF
Paul Pierce vs Andre Iguodala
Both of these players have been up and down in the series. Pierce has had some big games but mostly has struggled due to his knee injury. He needs to reach deep down and pull out a big game for the Celtics on both ends of the court.
Rajon Rondo vs Jrue Holiday
As has been the case so many times, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. He is coming off a poor showing in game 6 and the big question is will we get good Rondo or bad Rondo for this game. It is on the big stage, being televised on ABC, and that seems to bring out the best in the Celtics mercurial point guard. They could sure use the aggressive "Triple Double Rondo" in this one.
Kevin Garnett vs Spencer Hawes/Lavoy Allen
Many pointed to KG's failure to go inside or even attempt one shot in the paint in game 6 as a reason that the Celtics lost. He has been able to score easily against Hawes for the most part, but has struggled against Allen. The Celtics need KG to be aggressive and especially to play more inside.
Key Off the Bench
Mickael Pietrus needs to give the Celtics a boost off the bench. They need him to hit his shots as well as to play some good defense. With Bradley out, and Ray limited, both Pietrus and Dooling will need to give the team quality minutes.
Lou Williams gives the Sixers a boost off the bench scoring over 11 points per game. He has hit some big shots against the Celtics and they need to keep him from getting hot in this game.
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 (especially since their shots haven't seemed to fall) and must concentrate on getting stops. The offense feeds off the defense and so tough defense is absolutely the key to a win in this game.
Rebound - The Sixers are a good rebounding team. The Celtics have been considered a weak rebounding team, but when they really try, they can out rebound their opponents. Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics have got to continue to crash the boards as a team since the team that wins the rebounding battle will more than likely win the war.
Focus and Take Care of the Ball - When the Celtics aren't focused, they tend to turn the ball over way too much. The Celtics tend to lapse into sloppy ball at times and turn the ball over too many times. Against a team like the Sixers, turnovers are sure points for them. The Celtics turned the ball over 16 times in game 6 and the Celtics have to cut that way down. Before the series started, Doc singled out limiting turnovers as the most important thing they have to do. And now we are at game 7 and it is still key to winning the series.
Bench Play - The Celtics need to get quality minutes from their bench. The Celtics bench was outscored 16-5 in game 6 and the Celtics must get more than that from their bench. With Avery out and Ray limited, Pietrus and Dooling must find a way to contribute on both offense and defense. Stiemsma has to overcome the pain in his feet and try to give the Celtics quality minutes to give KG a break.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must come out as the more aggressive team from the start. They must be more aggressive chasing loose balls, going after rebounds, playing defense, and most of all driving into the paint and getting to the rim. They can't settle for jumpers. They were too passive in game 6 and have to be the more aggressive team in game 7 if they want to get the win.
Ubuntu - The Celtics must play together as a team. They have to move the ball and run their plays and trust each other on offense and they have to play team defense. At times they have lapsed into too much individual play and have gotten away from team play. They must play for each other and as a team in order to get this win.
8 playoff games as lead official
Home team win % of 75%
43.6 fouls called per game
48.2% of the fouls are called on the home team
0.9 technicals called per game
McCutchen has officiated 1,085 regular season, 80 playoff, and four Finals games. He worked the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas and was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 and 1997 Mexico Challenges, as well as the 1998 Schick Rookie Game. Prior to joining the NBA, McCutchen spent four seasons in the CBA, where he worked the All Star game his second year and the playoffs all four years. He also officiated the CBA Finals the last three years he was with the league. McCutchen missed the 1998-99 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He is a former elementary and middle school teacher and is fondly remembered by his students as a really nice guy. In searching for information on him, I found a Cavs' blog that blamed a loss to the Celtics on the officiating of Monty McCutchen. That was the game where Mike Brown was ejected and the Cavs made a furious comeback but fell short. Other than that, there's not a lot of controversy about McCutchen. The Celtics are 4-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with McCutchen on the court. One win this season was against the Knicks where they let them play and the Celtics shot 24 free throws to 21 for the Knicks. The second win was against the Bobcats where it was just the opposite. They called ticky tack fouls on both sides and let nothing go as evidenced by the 45 free throws taken by the Celtics and 35 by the Bobcats but the game was called fairly for both teams. The 3rd win was the Celtics subs vs the Heat's subs and they let them play with the Celtics taking 16 free throws to 7 for the Heat. The last win was game 3 vs Atlanta where they once again let them play and the Celtics took 25 free throws to 15 for the Hawks. The loss was to the Bulls where the Bulls shot 26 free throws to 18 for the Celtics but the game was called fairly. The Sixers are 2-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 with McCutchen. He is a homer ref with a 43-19 home W/L record this season.
6 playoff games as crew official
Home team win % of 67%
44.6 fouls called per game
52.1% of the fouls are called on the home team
1.1 technicals called per game
Brothers is entering his 18th season as an NBA official and has officiated 1,040 regular season games and 50 playoff games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Mexico Challenge, 1998 Schick Rookie Game, 1999 McDonald’s Championship in Milan, Italy and the 2008 China Games. Prior to joining the NBA, Brothers spent four years officiating in the CBA, including three CBA Finals and a CBA All-Star Game. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience at the Junior College level. Brothers also has seven years of high school officiating experience in Virginia, including three state tournaments. There are several articles about what a terrible ref Brothers is and detailing his misdeeds. He has angered a lot of fans of just about every team because of bad calls, no calls, and one sided officiating. The Celtics are 2-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Brothers on the court. One loss this season was to the Pistons in which the Celtics took 32 free throws to 29 for the Pistons. The other loss was to the Kings and both teams shot 21 free throws. One win came against Philadelphia where the Sixers shot 24 free throws to 19 for the Celtics. The second win was game 4 vs the Hawks and the Celtics shot 13 free throws to 17 for the Hawks. All of the games were pretty well officiated with no blatant bias or terrible calls. The Sixers are 4-4 this season and 4-6 with Brothers in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 35-25.
3 playoff games as crew official
Home team win % of 33%
44.0 fouls called per game
51.1% of the fouls are called on the home team
0.3 technicals called per game
A veteran of 21 NBA seasons, Mike Callahan has officiated 1,265 regular season and 110 playoff games and 11 NBA Finals games. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, 1994 Mexico Challenge and the 1996 Schick Rookie Game. Prior to joining the NBA, Callahan spent three years officiating in the CBA, including the 1989 and 1990 CBA Finals. A member of the Cardinal O’Hara High School basketball team for four years, Callahan also coached the freshman basketball team after graduating. Callahan has run a clinic for referees called "Hoops4Heros" that benefits local fire departments and maintains strong ties to the Philadelphia community through his volunteer work with the Don Guanella School for developmentally disabled boys. Callahan is one of 4 refs to come out of Cardinal O'Hara High School in Pennsylvania. The other 3 are Joey Crawford, Ed Malloy and Tim Donaghy. Callahan was one of the referees mentioned in an incident in Tim Donaghy's book. He and other refs would regularly wager with their fellow refs over things like who would call the first foul, who could give out the first tech, etc. Makes you wonder what game they might be playing tonight. The Celtics are 9-1 over their last 10 games with Callahan officiating. They are 3-1 this season, including one preseason game against Toronto where the Raptors shot 36 free throws to 34 for the Celtics. Another win was against Detroit where the Celtics shot 19 free throws to 15 for the Pistons. The third win was Game 3 in this series vs Philly where the Celtics shot 28 free throws to 22 for the Sixers. He also called the loss in game 1 of the Hawks series where the Celtics shot 13 free throws to 21 for the Hawks and the officiating was terrible with several obvious bad calls, most of which were made by Marc Davis, who was the head ref for that game. . He usually lets the teams play and isn't a tyrant with the whistle. He isn't influenced by the home crowd and has a home W/L record this season of 29-28.
Focus, Effort, Officiating
The Celtics have to come out focused and keep their focus throughout the game. Along with focus, they have to put out a strong effort from start to finish. They can't afford lapses against this team. As much as we don't like it, officiating can change the outcome of a game. We can only hope for fair and even officiating to give the teams a chance to decide the game.