Event: Celtics (6-3) vs. 76ers (5-4) - NBA Playoffs 2012, Second Round, Game 4.
Date/Time: Friday, May 18, 2012 - 8:00 p.m. EST.
Location: Wells Fargo Center (Capacity: 20,318), Philadelphia, PA.
Broadcast Info: Friday night's game between the Celtics and 76ers will be televised nationally on ESPN. 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.
Celtics Vs. 76ers, Game 3: Kevin Garnett (27 points, 13 rebounds), Paul Pierce (24 points, 12 rebounds, three steals) and Rajon Rondo (23 points, 14 assists) carried the Celtics to a statement 107-91 win and a 2-1 series lead. Thaddeus Young scored 22 points for Philly.
Storyline: Did you think the Celtics could possibly make it to the NBA Finals at the start of the season? Well, there's still a lot of basketball left to play before that, but their chances are looking pretty good. With another Miami Heat loss against the Indiana Pacers, and the Celtics facing the possibility of a five game series, it's looking like Boston may be able to get some extra rest before it faces either the Heat or Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Of course, there's still the business of the remaining basketball games left to play against Philadelphia. The Sixers gave the Celtics problems in Games 1 and 2 back in Boston, even winning the latter. There's no doubt that Philly can keep up with Boston, but it was overconfident in Game 3, as Elton Brand admitted, and will need to rededicate itself to playing solid defense and smart offense. If they do not, the series will be essentially over.
Players To Watch: Kevin Garnett has been playing like, well, this Kevin Garnett (the old Minnesota Timberwolves version), but can he keep this up? We saw a regression in Game 2, but he erased any doubt with another great performance in Game 2. How will KG play in Game 4? Whatever the end result, his play will go a long way toward deciding the outcome of the game. Also, if Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce can play as well as they did on Wednesday, the Celtics may be a lock to win. Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams will all need to step up their game for Philly if it wants to get back into the series.
Prediction: At the start of the series, I predicted that the Celtics would win the series in six games. I'm not changing the winner of my pick, but the way the Celts performed in Game 3 has forced my hand. Boston will win the series in five. Final Score: Celtics 95, Sixers 84.