Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics continue their pursuit of an 18th championship against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs on Saturday evening.
Event: Celtics (3-2) vs. 76ers (3-2) - NBA Playoffs 2012, Second Round, Game 1.
Date/Time: Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 8:00 p.m. EST.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Saturday's game between the Celtics and 76ers will be televised on TNT and CSNNE. In addition, the game will be broadcast on the radio on WEEI 93.7 FM.
Celtics Roster 2011-2012: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, Ryan Hollins, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Sasha Pavlovic, Paul Pierce, Mickael Pietrus, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Sean Williams. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
76ers Roster 2011-2012: Lavoy Allen, Tony Battie, Craig Brackins, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Jodie Meeks, Xavier Silas, Evan Turner, Nikola Vucevic, Louis Williams, Sam Young, Thaddeus Young. Head Coach: Doug Collins.
Regular Season Series: Boston and Philadelphia met three times in the regular season, with the Sixers winning twice. Philly won by a combined 45 points in its two victories. On March 7, the Celtics were blown away, 103-71, thanks to a career game from Evan Turner (26 points). Philly also beat Boston, 99-86, in the next meeting on March 23. Boston won the season series finale, 103-79, on April 8 behind a 20 point game from Kevin Garnett.
Celtics-76ers In First Round: Both the No. 4 seeded Celtics and No. 8 seeded 76ers won their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. Boston defeated the No. 5 seeded Atlanta Hawks, 4-2, and Philadelphia defeated the No. 1 seeded Chicago Bulls, 4-2.
Playoff Stats Leaders: Paul Pierce is the Celtics' leading postseason scorer, averaging 21.2 points. Kevin Garnett is the team's leading rebounder (10.5 RPG) and shot blocker (1.8 BPG) and Rajon Rondo is averaging a team-high 11.8 assists and 3.4 steals in six games. Jrue Holiday is the Sixers' leading scorer, averaging 18.2 points, and leads the team, averaging 4.7 assists. Spencer Hawes is averaging 8.0 rebounds, Andre Iguodala averages 1.8 steals and Elton Brand is averaging 2.5 blocks through the opening round.
Storyline: One round down, three to go. Boston took out Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs, and now faces a similar opponent in Philadelphia. Both the Hawks and Sixers are young, athletic teams that can (and have) burn(ed) the Celtics. The number one question for the Celts is health, with three players -- Paul Pierce (knee), Ray Allen (ankle) and Avery Bradley (shoulder) -- suffering from various ailments. None are expected to miss any games, but at this point, you just never know. As long as the Celtics can stay healthy, they should have a strong shot to win the series.
Players To Watch: Keep an eye out for the injured Celtics, mentioned above, as well as the remaining two members of the Big Four, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala will likely be the most impactful players on the opposite bench, although Lou Williams, Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand can impact the game.
Prediction: Boston is clearly hurting, but both teams were pushed to six games in the first round of the series. Even though the Celtics are home for Game 1, expect the sprier Sixers to put up a strong fight. Final Score: Sixers 86, Celtics 79.