Event: Celtics (5-3) vs. 76ers (5-3) - NBA Playoffs 2012, Second Round, Game 3.
Date/Time: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 7:00 p.m. EST.
Location: Wells Fargo Center (Capacity: 20,318), Philadelphia, PA.
Broadcast Info: Wednesday's game between the Celtics and 76ers will be televised nationally on TNT. 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.
Injury Report: Boston - Paul Pierce (knee), Ray Allen (ankle), Avery Bradley (shoulder).
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.
First Round Playoff Stats: 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.
Celtics Vs. 76ers, Game 1: Boston rode Kevin Garnett (29 points, 11 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (13 points, 12 rebounds, 17 assits) to a comeback 92-91 win over Philadelphia in Game 1 of the series on Saturday night at TD Garden. Paul Pierce scored 14 and Ray Allen scored 12. Andre Iguodala finished with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists for Philly.
Celtics Vs. 76ers, Game 2: Boston again struggled through parts of the first three quarters, but got hot at the right time in the fourth. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as the Sixers fended off the green team to even the series at 1-1. Jrue Holiday scored a game-high 18 while Kevin Garnett scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and had 12 rebounds.
Storyline: Philly's not so tough, right? That's what you're probably thinking if you've been listening to 98.5 The Sports Hub's Mike Felger on weekday afternoons, but then again, you'd be wrong. The Sixers practically beat the Celtics twice -- Boston just happened to win one game, said C's head coach Doc Rivers -- in the first two games in Boston. Now, with the series transitioning to the Wells Fargo Center, the Celtics face an even tougher test against a team that can clearly beat them. Just as in the first two games, the health of Boston's stars -- Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley -- will be in question, and an unhealthy Celtics squad isn't helpful to the cause. Pierce said after Game 2 that the Celtics need to do a better job of defending individually, a thought that point guard Rajon Rondo also echoed. That's a tall order, though, as Philly has a handful of athletic players that can beat Boston at almost any time. In order for Boston to stay in this series, it desperately needs to win one, if not both, of the next two games in Philadelphia before coming home.
Players To Watch: Jrue Holiday entered the series as the Sixers' leading scorer, regular season and postseason, and he hasn't failed to live up to the billing so far. Holiday has been a pest for Boston in the first two games, so there's no reason to believe he won't be on Wednesday. Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner also pose their own problems for Boston. Lavoy Allen has also developed into a sort of "X-factor" in the series for Philly. On the Celtics' side, it will be tough, if not impossible, to win without strong games from Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus will also need to provide scoring and energy off the Celtics' bench in order to keep them afloat.
Prediction: It's still reasonable to think that the Celtics could win the series in five or six games, but in order to do so, they'll need to pick up at least one win in Philadelphia. In my opinion, that win won't come on Wednesday evening. Final Score: Sixers 86, Celtics 80.