Just for a change, Jeff has kindly agreed to let me recap Sunday's game. I don't get a chance to see many games live here in the UK, so I thought I'd use this opportunity to give you a game recap from a Brit's perspective. I could have picked a better game - well, actually, no I couldn't (due to the fact that there are no more live C's games to be aired here for the rest of the regular season).
As I settle down to watch the game at 6pm UK time, my first discovery of the night is that the usual five hour time difference is up to six hours, so the game airs at 7pm. Presumably this is because we put our clocks back a few weeks ahead of you. There you go, interesting and informative already. Well, informative anyway.
Settling in at 7pm, I am greeted now by the news that, due to their coverage of US tour golf, the cable network is now going to show the game "as-live" at 11pm. Now, faced with the decision of listening to the game on-line before I watch it, or avoiding the result, I decide it will be a better game recap if I watch the game as live. So I kill the next four hours...I won't recap that bit. I am especially narked because the game now clashes with (a) the Sox Yankees game (b) Wrestlemania XXI (c) the women's final four and (d) when I should be in bed. England sucks.
At 11pm, just as I am settling in to watch the game, my "friend", a Pacers fan, sends me a message saying "watch out - we are only one game behind you". It takes me a few moments to process this information, but then I realize it means he knows the Sixers result and the C's must have lost. Needless to say, this kind of removed the excitement out of my evening and I wasn't best pleased. I watched the game in a mood and it was only due to the fact that I had agreed to do this and I didn't want to let you guys down that I made the effort to document what happened. Grrrrr!
Anyway, onto the action (which, according to the on-screen caption put up by the UK broadcaster, comes live from the Fleet Centre - I believe there are at least three errors in that statement, but I'll leave you to figure out what they are). Any forlorn hope that my "friend" has made a mistake is dispelled after just a few minutes. The C's are standing around on offense and (worse still) on defense and after a Raef three ties it at 5, the Sixers roll off an 8-0 run to lead 13-5.
By the way, Antoine is not playing. This is, I guess, because of the bruised knee he picked up in Atlanta. That evens out the fact that Webber's not playing but also means that Mark Blount is back in the starting line-up. As the lead grows to 23-8, I probably would have worked out the fact that we weren't going to win by this point. I still didn't respond to the message though. PP cuts it to 13 by going 1-on-5 at the 2:45 mark. Not a great sign.
They air footage of Doc yelling at the team for being lazy. I agree with every word, but it doesn't seem to motivate them much. Oh yes, and we've started blitzing the pick-and-roll again. One concern I have over Doc is his ability to make adjustments. He does make them, but it tends to be long after we've all realized it should happen (i.e. playing Perk or switching on the pick and roll). Does he have the ability to make adjustments on the fly? (e.g. in a playoff series, which I have to give Jim O'Brien - much as I dislike him - credit for being capable at). If a genius head coach could be compared to a chess grandmaster, I worry that Doc (and his staff) might be good at postal chess, but nothing more.
Doc's tirade has the opposite effect that was intended. Nine more Philly points and boos are already raining down from the rafters. It's 32-10 at the one minute mark. The period ends up with Philly up 38-13 (Iverson matching the C's total on his own). It was nice of the C's to put up a tribute to Antoine Walker by shooting 5 for 20 for the period though.
WHAT THE....?!? Coverage of the second period begins at the eight and a half minute mark. What happened to "As-live?" Surely the game isn't going to OT, not after that first period. This will not do. I shall be writing to my local member of parliament (just wanted to remind you of my Englishness). The good news is the C's are on a 5-2 run - not that I got to see it.
Good effort on the glass by Perk and AJ - who both got in during the first period and lifted the C's somewhat - leads to a Perk tip and the lead is down to 20. Unfortunately, AJ continues his recent penchant for fouling and has to leave the game with three. A highly motivated looking Mark Blount comes in and immediately gives up an uncontested lay-up. Perk then does his best Blount impression and fumbles away a sloppy PP pass to set up another easy score and a 24 point lead. Ouch.
Still 20 down at the 5:49 mark, the crowd is actually getting into it. This despite the fact that a Rodney Rogers airball is probably the best highlight they have to cheer so far. Rivers is fuming. They air Antoine making an emotional speech, which seems to have more effect than Doc's. Meanwhile, the Sixers have attempted 19 threes in 19 minutes. I miss you so much, Obie. In fact, all of Philly's hoops today were either lay-ups, threes or off-balance AI fadeaways, I'm sure of it.
Davis hits a three and some FTs to cut it to 49-35 and the C's are on a 22-11 run. They still seem to be playing sloppily though. All iso's and long jumpers. Whatever happened to the weave? Yeah, it was pointless, but at least it got some movement going. Did Jiri take it with him to Cleveland? A few more Davis J's and a nice look from PP to GP makes it 53-42 then a last second three by PP (who had shot pretty well, but was forced into several turnovers by Igoudala) makes it 55-45 at the half. A 32-17 quarter and the C's are basically back in the game. Or, if it hadn't have been for that lousy first quarter, we'd be blowing them out. Doc chews out TA as they leave the floor and we don't see much of Tony in the second half.
The 2nd half opens with a PP jumper to cut the lead to 8. Then the 76ers go on a 6-0 run, sparked by a blatant AI double dribble. PP draws Igodala's third foul, but clanks both FT's, then Igoudala picks up his fourth at the 7:51 mark with the score 61-47. The C's respond with a GP iso, which ends with him turning the ball over, leading to a Kyle Korver three for a 17 point lead and a timeout.
With the C's down 13, PP makes a nice move, upfaking to draw the contact and nailing the fadeaway. He blows the opportunity to make a 3 point play though, clanking his fourth free throw of the game - his own personal Antoine tribute. Ricky makes a steal and, despite stumbling, is able to get to the rim for a one-handed reverse dunk to cut it to 66-57. I think this was the only dunk of the game by the C's. Never a good sign (the Sixers made about ten). Nevertheless, the Sixers are forced to call a time-out at the 5:14 point.
PP hits a three (as the Sixers are busy arguing a no-call) to further cut the lead but Iverson answers with a dagger three of his own. Still, the C's finish the period strong as GP lasers a pass for an easy Raef lay-up, then PP finds AJ for a three point play. Davis nails a 20 footer with the clock winding down and the lead is down to 73-70 at the end of 3.
For the fourth straight quarter, the C's open a period looking a complete mess. A combination of questionable officiating and sloppy ball-handling takes the 76ers lead back up to seven before RD finally delivers the C's first basket of the stanza (thesaurus alert) to cut it to 77-72 at the 8:40 mark. Two dreadful passes by Raef, who had played well up to then, helped swell the Sixer lead to 11 before another Davis three. Shortly after hitting 2 more FT's - he was 6-7 from the line - Jefferson fouled out (with 10 points in 13 minutes and the score 87-83).
A lame pass by GP (Boston's 22nd turnover) leads to another Philly score and a 91-83 lead. He then makes up for it by going coast to coast for a three point play and finding Blount inside to cut it to 91-88 with time winding down. Following a Dalembert basket, PP makes a circus shot as he drives baseline for a three point opportunity at 93-90. Unfortunately, he misses his 5th freebie of the night and Iverson's pull-up on the next possession effectively seals the deal. The Sixers win 97-93 and the Atlantic division race will seemingly go to the wire.
Iverson (36 points) shot well - as he always seems to in Boston - but it was the lousy start that did for the Celtics here. This is a tough game to analyze. Defensively there were some terrible stretches and offensively, too many soft turnovers. PP and Ricky kept the C's in with a chance, but to be honest that was more down to individual talent than good team play. Plenty of work to do, then and lots of room for improvement.
I can't say any more - it's 2am and I know you guys will do a good job of analyzing the game, so I'll leave that to you. I hope you enjoyed my recap (despite having to be the bearer of bad news) and Go C's! Believe the hype.