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The Boston Celtics were beat by the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night in the second game of their seven game series, but quite a few fans in Massachusetts have seemingly decided to put an asterisk next to the Boston loss. The asterisk is because, if the officials had not blown their whistles on Kevin Garnett when he was screening for Ray Allen, the game's outcome likely would have been altered.
Garnett clearly set an illegal screen -- both the video evidence as well as the poll results here confirm that -- but one question remains: Should an off-the-ball play with just seconds left on the game clock help decide the outcome of a game?
Our friend Jeff Clark over at SB Nation's CelticsBlog, who likely isn't the most biased observer but is an astute basketball mind, gave his opinion on the game-altering call Tuesday morning.
Like holding calls in football, there are moving screens on every other play in basketball and yes, the Celtics are among the worst at it. I'd be shocked if they didn't teach it to their big men in training camp. However, it would seem to make more sense for the officials to start calling that earlier in the game instead of all of a sudden in the final minute or two.
Was it a moving screen? No doubt. Was it the right time to make that call? Well, let's just say I was surprised and leave it at that.
In all honesty, that's a perfectly acceptable answer. Moving screens "on every other play" might be taking it to the extremes, but there are probably more illegal screens that aren't called throughout the course of the average than those that are caught and called. That doesn't make the late-game whistle a bad one, however, especially since the officials had already established with Garnett that his illegal screenery wouldn't be tolerated.
Note to Boston fans: Refs didn't "suddenly" call KG moving pick "out of nowhere." Got called for similar shove at 7:45 of 4th.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_SI) May 15, 2012
The reaction from everyone over the next few days will likely be mixed, but it seems that the officials didn't get it wrong -- though it's understandable that the opponents of the call would rather see refs get it right quite a bit more often before blowing their whistle with the game on the line.
It probably makes sense to expect the unexpected when it comes to the NBA Playoffs, but, more often than not, it's the established stars that make the most noise when the postseason rolls through each year. Monday night's game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, however, showed that random players do occasionally step up.
The Sixers were led by Andre Iguodala on the defensive end -- as is typically the case -- but it was the unlikely duo of Evan Turner or Lavoy Allen who made the biggest contributions in the upset victory. Turner made the game-winning bucket off a nice steal and, as Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers noted after the game, it was quite possibly the most anyone could ask for out of a player some thought was going to be a bust as the second overall pick.
The first move past Rondo, the acrobatic body control to avoid Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and the last minute adjustment to put some major english on that ball to kiss off the glass at a heavenly angle. Mike Prada called it "a career-altering shot". Matt Moore of CBS channeled Christopher Nolan and said "The Sixers needed a hero. They got the Villain." And Doc Rivers, sneering, deemed it "a miraculous shot." Evan would go on to make two huge, COLD. BLOODED. free throws and seal the game for the Sixers. Though this certainly wasn't his best game, it was absolutely one of his best finishes.
The Sixers had an even more unlikely player step up earlier in the game, however, as Liberty Ballers' Derek Bodner notes that Lavoy Allen's offense was something not even the heartiest of 76ers fans could expect.
Luckily, Lavoy Allen stepped in and played 30 minutes of productive basketball. Let me reiterate that: Lavoy Allen played over 30 minutes of productive playoff basketball. I wasn't a fan of his drafting, and the concerns I had (none of which were talent) still exist to some degree, and won't be settled until he does this at a consistent level. But Lavoy has so far exceeded my expectations (even if he does nothing else in his Sixers career) that I can't help but give him props. Ten points, eight rebounds, and the best interior defense on the team down the stretch. He was the only one who consistently contested Garnett's shots, both on the perimeter and in the post.
I would be surprised if Doug Collins made a change in the starting lineup, but Allen deserves it. Individual game +/- is generally misused, but in this case it directly ties into how well he's played. Allen was a +6 in 20 minutes in game 1 and a +21 in 30 minutes tonight. That's a +27 when Allen has been on the court this series and a -27 when he's been off.
As far as the other side of the ball is concerned, our friends over at the aptly named CelticsBlog seem resigned to thinking that if they were just able to get some shots to fall that the game would have ended up going in the other direction.
That explanation would make sense in quite a few games, but Jeff Clark explained his team's woes too well not to excerpt them here.
The maddening thing is that we've seen this team run a fluid, highly efficient if not proficient offense in the past. When the ball is moving around, people are making the right cuts and knocking down shots, it is a thing of beauty. We've got three guys that are Hall of Fame locks and were their team's go-to scorers for years and years. But now they can't seem to buy a bucket with all the buckets of cash that they've earned ... scoring buckets.
This should be an interesting series to watch if the Sixers are able to continue to get solid play out of their lesser players, but if and when the Celtics start getting hot, even that might not keep Philly alive through another seven game series.
After losing by one point in Game 1, the 76ers evened their series with Boston with a one-point win of their own in Game 2. Philadelphia's 82-81 victory tied their best-of-seven game series with the Celtics 1-1.
Jrue Holiday led the way for the 76ers with 18 points, while Andre Iguodala finished with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Spencer Hawes was two points shy of a double-double, finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.
Ray Allen scored 17 points off the bench to lead the Celtics. Fresh off a triple-double in Game 1, Rajon Rondo finished Game 2 with eight points, seven rebounds and 13 assists. He now has 20 assists through two games of this series. Paul Pierce scored just seven points in the losing effort. Pierce is averaging 10.5 points per game in this series after scoring 21.2 points per game in the Celtics opening-round series against Atlanta.
The last time an NBA official called an illegal screen on a member of the Boston Celtics, it was 2007. OK, slight exaggeration, but you get my point. The Celtics get away with more illegal screens than anyone, to the point where it's just become a consequence of playing them.
You can imagine everyone's surprise, then, when Kevin Garnett just got called for a foul on this play.
Let's be very clear here: that's a foul. Garnett didn't set a screen as much as he put his hands out and dislodged Andre Iguodala like a pulling guard clearing a running lane for Adrian Peterson. That said, you can understand why Garnett did that. NBA officials always swallow their whistles late in the game, and no team takes more advantage of that than the Celtics.
That said, it's still a foul and it was the right call. Doc Rivers' facial expression tells me he knows this too.
We cannot and should not take this Evan Turner layup for granted. On the scoresheet, it'll go down as a simple left-handed layup and two points for the Philadelphia 76ers, but it was far more than that. Not only did this shot give the 76ers a one-point lead with 40 seconds left, but there was a high degree of difficulty involved.
The powerful move to get by Rondo to his right was impressive enough, but with Paul Pierce stepping in, that should have been an offensive foul. Instead, Turner somehow jumped off his left leg to his left, ducking his knee inside of Pierce's body and squeezing through Pierce and Rondo to avoid the charge. Then, there was the matter of actually finishing the shot with his off hand with his body so off-balanced.
If the 76ers go on to win this game, this could be a career-altering shot by Turner, who has largely been a disappointment after going No. 2 in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Kevin Garnett just slammed home an alley-oop on Evan Turner and chose to admire the view high above his face. Somehow, he was not called for a hanging on the rim technical foul, proving once again that Garnett can do pretty much whatever he wants on the court and still get away without an infraction.
Now, the reverse angle. Poor Turner.
Your argument is invalid.
Normally, a five-second violation is enough to cause a head coach to go bonkers on the sidelines. In this game, though, 76ers coach Doug Collins knows there has been much worse.
Now that Avery Bradley is back in the game, all those 76ers post double teams have gone away. The problem for Philadelphia? Bradley cut backdoor one time for a wide-open dunk when the 76ers double-teamed Kevin Garnett, and that was it for those double teams.
The problem for the Celtics? Garnett still can’t score. He’s had single coverage on a 76ers big man deep in the post twice, and all he’s gotten is a travel and a fadeaway 12-footer that missed badly.
Garnett simply has to hit those shots for the Celtics to win.
Raise your hand if you predicted that. I hope nobody’s hands are up.
Kevin Garnett is mortal again, mostly because the 76ers are sending hard double teams at him. It’s been a consistent theme, especially when Ryan Hollins and Keyon Dooling are on the court. Neither of those players are threats, and Rajon Rondo isn’t really a perimeter shooter either, so Philadelphia is able to play a three-man zone on the weakside when they double team.
This is where Boston misses Avery Bradley, who has not played since his left shoulder popped out in the second quarter. Bradley’s ability to cut along the baseline goes a long way to help solve double teams. Bradley is back in the game now, so we'll see if Boston's offense starts to open up again.
Why is Boston’s offense doing nothing? Kevin Garnett looks mortal again. The Celtics’ star, after two huge turn-back-the-clock games in Game 6 against the Hawks and Game 1 of this series, has played just 19 minutes and has only four shot attempts. When Garnett isn’t scoring or shooting, the Celtics’ offense is toast, especially with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen playing through injuries.
Not a lot of bold in here.
The Philadelphia 76ers are the most sure-handed team in the league. For a while, they had the lowest offensive turnover rate in NBA history, falling below that mark only at the end of the year.
They have 13 turnovers in this game so far. Another reminder that the NBA Playoffs is a different game.
Already holding a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven series with the Sixers, the Celtics took a 38-36 halftime lead in Game 2.
Brandon Bass is the leading scorer for the Celtics with eight points. Rajon Rondo had eight assists in the first half after he dealt 17 in Game 1 of the series. Avery Bradley left the game during the second quarter after he dislocated his shoulder. Bradley also injured his shoulder in the Celtics first round series with the Hawks.
Jrue Holiday leads all scorers with 13 points, and he's the only 76er in double figures. Spencer Hawes has six points and six rebounds for Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala made just one of his five shots in the first half, but leads the 76ers with four first-half assists.
With a four-point Celtics lead and five minutes and 22 seconds left in the first half, Doc Rivers gave Kevin Garnett a rest. The rest lasted four and a half minutes. In that time, the Sixers scored seven of the next nine points and took back the lead.
It was a very short stretch, but it illustrated why Garnett is so important to the Celtics. Without his post scoring, Philadelphia’s interior defenders swallowed up Brandon Bass and Ryan Hollins. Without his defense and rebounding, the 76ers found a couple open shots they may not have found with Garnett in the game.
This is the scary thing for the Celtics going forward. If they want to make another deep run, they need Garnett to play a lot of minutes, because they have problems when he doesn’t. Can he keep that up?
The Boston Celtics are without shooting guard Avery Bradley, at least temporarily. With just over five minutes remaining in the second quarter of Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Bradley took the ball to the basket and got between Lou Williams and Elton Brand. It appeared that Brand made contact with Bradley's left arm when he attempted to make a block, injuring Bradley's shoulder. It looks like a fairly innocent play on video, but the shoulder that Bradley injures on the play was his previously-injured left shoulder.
Bradley appeared to be in serious pain on the bench before he went back to the locker room. David Aldridge reported on TNT's broadcast of the game that Bradley has a separated left shoulder. He suffered the same injury in Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks and did not return to that game.
He’s now 1-5 from the field and just committed a really dumb offensive foul trying to tightrope the baseline when there was nothing there. It appears the Celtics have emphasized cutting off Iguodala’s transition and spot-up opportunities, which is smart because that’s how Iguodala gets most of his points these days.
The byproduct: Jrue Holiday is having a strong game shouldering most of the playmaking load as the Celtics key on Iguodala. I still think the Celtics would take that trade-off, though.
This was a fantastic play by Boston Celtics center Ryan Hollins, and I don't want to take that away from him. He ran the floor beautifully, and Rajon Rondo did a great job looking off the defense before finding Hollins for the alley-oop dunk midway through the second quarter of Game 2 of the Celtics' 2012 NBA Playoffs second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
All that said, it is kind of sad how bad Spencer Hawes's hops are.
Jumping: clearly not Hawes's strong suit.
One of the big problems for the Celtics all year was that their second unit couldn’t put the ball in the basket. Once Rajon Rondo went out, the Celtics’ offense too often couldn’t get anything easy.
Doc Rivers tried to fix that problem by playing Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett with Keyon Dooling, Mickael Pietrus and Ryan Hollins in Game 2 against the 76ers, but it hasn’t worked. The Celtics have just two points in the second quarter and now trail by two.
How do you know Ray Allen is playing hurt, besides him telling you so? The two layups he’s missed early in the second quarter that he’d normally put down.
Brandon Bass took nine shots in Game 1. He already has eight shots in the first 11 minutes of Game 2, and Rajon Rondo has already passed out of three layups (two pictured here) to get the ball to Bass. I think it’s safe to say that the Celtics are making a conscious effort to get Bass going.
First, Rondo managed to get an assist to Brandon Bass on this play, even though he could have easily scored.
Fueled by that one working, Rondo tried the trick again. This one failed.
Just shoot the layups, Rajon. It's okay to score sometimes.
The Celtics are out to an early 9-0 lead, as every 76ers starter has missed one shot. The problem? In an attempt to keep the tempo high, the 76ers are rushing shots. Spencer Hawes’s fadeaway in the lane on the third possession was a classic example. He wasn’t completely open, but because he felt that was the best shot he’d get, he rushed it.
When you rush shots against the Celtics’ defense, they get out and get points in the secondary transition. Philadelphia has to be more patient going forward.
Philadelphia fell by only one point in Game 1 after beating the team with the best record in the NBA. Can they even the series in Game 2?
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