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Veteran Celtics win with old reliable: Defense 05.22.12 at 1:50 pm ET
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In the new Big Three era, when the moon is large, the food is prepared properly, and whatever other wacky Kevin Garnett-ism you want to use to describe the Celtics playing to their potential, there has been one constant. If unsure of the answer, let Mickael Pietrus spell it out for you:

“D-E-F-E-N-S-E,” Pietrus said. “That’s the key. When offensively things aren’t going well, you can always count on everybody to play great defense. That’s our coach’s mentality. That’s the Celtics’ mentality.”

The Celtics have finished in the top five in points allowed every year since the 2007-08 season. This year has been no different. During the regular season opponents scored 89.3 points per game against the C’s, good for second-fewest in the NBA. Through 11 games of the playoffs, Boston has allowed just 84.9 points per game. But in the first half of the pivotal Game 5 Monday night, the Celtics struggled to execute defensively and the 76ers took advantage, shooting 54.8 percent while taking a three-point lead at halftime.

“Understanding what got us here,” Garnett said about the keys to the Celtics’ success. “Riding out our defense. I think when we get erratic and we get away from being disciplined defensively, it makes it hard on us. When we stick to our principles and our schemes, it’s hard to score on us.”

What transpired over the course of the second half proved Garnett is absolutely right. The Celtics regained some semblance of control in a wildly unpredictable series with their 101-85 victory. Some analysts will point to the Celtics getting to the free throw line 17 more times than the Sixers; others will speak about Brandon Bass outscoring the entire Philly team, 18-16, in the third quarter. And those are valid reasons why Boston prevailed, but they also are anomalies.

However, the C’s defense binding together and holding the 76ers to just 35 second-half points on 37.1 percent shooting is hardly surprising. As Garnett said, it is what Boston is built on. The C’s active hands served as a catalyst to completely reverse the feel of the game. In the third quarter alone, the Sixers had six turnovers and the Celtics had four steals, turning what had been a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter. From that point on, the Celtics never looked back.

“It’s due to their adjustments,” Elton Brand said. “The first two games they were playing our pick and roll and our drag screens a certain way, now they are playing it a different way, and it doesn’t always bode well for us to execute. We’ve been turning the ball over. They’re long and athletic, so we’ve been going into those traps.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 NBA playoffs, 2012 Playoffs, Brandon Bass, Elton Brand
Evan Turner: Sixers have to ‘make it a rougher game’ at 12:30 pm ET
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Coming into the series, the Sixers were perceived to have a clear advantage in the athletic department over the older, more experienced Celtics.

One problem with that – it’s the Celtics have have played tougher in the big moments, like for the for the final 20 minutes of Monday’s 101-85 Boston win in Game 5 that puts the Celtics one win from the Eastern Conference finals.

With the exception of the Game 4 meltdown in Philadelphia, the Celtics have won the battle inside against the Sixers. They’ve been able to establish Kevin Garnett in the low post and he and Brandon Bass have had quality looks at the basket.

Defensively, which the Celtics to a man will tell you is where it all starts, they’ve also done a much better job than Philadelphia in stopping dribble penetration into the lane, closing up quickly on Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday.

The good looks the Sixers were getting on baseline cuts in the first half Monday suddenly disappeared in the second half – as did the Sixers’ lead and any hope of winning the series on their home court on Wednesday night.

The Celtics demoralized the young, immature Sixers, who didn’t have the patience or discipline to reverse the ball because the Celtics were the tougher team. The Sixers shot nearly 60 percent for the first 23 minutes Monday night. They shot 27 percent the rest of the way.

‘€œMake shots,” is how Turner answered the question of turning around the second-half disaster in Boston Monday night. ” You get a lot of shots. The big thing is you just have to keep competing and make it a rougher game. You can’€™t let them walk into their shots, get to certain spots, you got to make it tougher for them like we did in Game 4.’€

Elton Brand, who is playing with an ailing shoulder, was huge early on for Philadelphia. He hit 6-of-8 as the Sixers had the clear momentum in the first half. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Andre Iguodala, Boston Celtics, Elton Brand
A Sheed-less Loss 12.18.09 at 11:01 pm ET
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BOSTON – The Celtics were rolling with an 11-point lead before it happened.

Rasheed Wallace got whistled for an offensive foul with just over six minutes left in the second quarter. He didn’t agree with the call. During a timeout less than a minute later he got slapped with a technical. And then another one. Wallace had to be restrained by assistant coach Tom Thibodeau as he was tossed with 5:35 to go in the first half.

“That definitely helps because he can spread the floor,” Elton Brand said of the ejection. “He’s a good player for them and he was posting up and scoring, absolutely.”

Wallace had posted five points and three rebounds in nine minutes before he was ejected. The 76ers took advantage of his absence and tied the Celtics with 13 points in the remainder of the quarter. Big man Marreese Speights scored five points in the last 2:20 alone.

After having a 31-20 advantage on the boards in the first half, the Celtics were outrebounded 25-15 in the second. Without Wallace, the second unit combined for just four rebounds in the entire game before losing 98-97. (Recap here)

His absence played a role in the Celtics loss, but that doesn’t mean they are putting it all on him.

“Sheed’s a big part of our team,” said Kevin Garnett. “Not only does he give us length and a great voice out there on defense and offense, but he’s a presence in the post, a presence on the outside, and knows how to play and shares the ball. But that’s no excuse. I mean he didn’t have anything to do with our energy. That’s just a team thing and we’ll get it right.”

Added Brian Scalabrine, “This is the kind of game where we will all look at ourselves in the mirror and say we all should have done better. We’re not blaming anyone else on this one. We should have won this game tonight.”

The Celtics will practice on Saturday and host the Timberwolves on Sunday evening.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Elton Brand, Kevin Garnett
76ers minus two 11.25.09 at 7:54 pm ET
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The Sixers are without starting point guard Lou Williams and power forward Elton Brand for Wednesday night’s game with the Celtics.

Williams suffered a fractured jaw in their game Tuesday with Washington, while Brand has been struggling with a sore hamstring. Rookie Jrue Holiday will start in place of Williams and Jason Smith gets the nod for Brand.

Read More: 76ers, Elton Brand, Lou Williams,
Postgame News and Notes: Celtics vs. 76ers 11.28.08 at 8:48 pm ET
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GAME RECAP: BOSTON CELTICS 102 – PHILADELPHIA 76ers 78

Last season the Boston Celtics added two All-Stars and got out to one of the hottest starts in basketball. This season the Philadelphia 76ers added one All-Star and still haven’t figured out how to win with him. On Friday night Elton Brand posed no problem for the Celtics as they dismantled the 76ers 102-78. This loss wasn’t Brand’s fault, though. The 76ers as a whole failed to help and the Celtics took advantage of this struggling team.

  • Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined for 38 points (16-27 FG). Paul Pierce added just six (1-6 FG). “We ran a few plays for Ray, noticed he had the hot hand and that’s what we try to do,” Pierce said. “Ray is really shooting lights out as of late so the guys around him were doing a good job of getting him open and he’s knocking shots down.”
  • The 76ers are looking to learn from the Celtics cohesiveness. “They’re a very good team, well coached team,” said Andre Miller. “They play well together. You have to tip your hats to them. We should take something from this and move onto the next game.”
  • Last season Miller flustered Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. Tonight Rondo got the best of the veteran PG, posting 6 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds to Miller’s 12 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Rondo’s ball handling kept his teammates on point and his 12 dimes proved to be more valuable than Miller’s 12 points.

The Celtics (15-2) are leaving tonight for Charlotte, where they will take on the Bobcats on Saturday night. The 76ers (7-9) play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

Read More: 76ers, Andre Miller, Celtics, Elton Brand
Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers 11.27.08 at 10:01 pm ET
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On Friday night the Boston Celtics (14-2) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (7-8) at the TD BankNorth Garden. The 76ers were expected to challenge the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after acquiring Elton Brand this summer, but so far they have yet to pose a threat. The Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak while the 76ers have lost their last two.

In the last five games …
Over the last five games the Celtics have averaged the third most points in the NBA (108 ppg), the 76ers are posting the third least (90.4 ppg). The 76ers have the highest rebounding differential in the league (+6.33) for the season but the Celtics have outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight boards in the past five contests.

Front Court
The match up to watch will be Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand. The big men have seen each other plenty of times in the Western Conference and now they are two of the best in the East. Brand gives the 76ers a legitimate option in the post, something they’ve been lacking of over the years, and they don’t have to rely as much on their running game.

‘€œYou know they’re going to play hard, you know they’re going to crash the boards,’€ Garnett said. ‘€œBut having that range from the floor makes them [multi-dimensional]. They’re able to go pick-and-pop. Andre Miller can string out the defense a little bit and throw it back and Elton can hit all the way up to 19-feet jumpers.’€

Back Court
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has made it clear on several occassions that Andre Miller is one of his favorite point guards in the league. Now many are saying the same about Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.

‘€œThe problems we’€™ve had with Philly in the past, last year we struggled with them because of the Andre Miller problem,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œYou know, at the point, with his size. I think Rondo’€™s better suited to handle that this year, and so he’€™s going to have to.’€

Rondo’s fearless hustle has garnered praise from teammates and opponents alike. He enters Friday’s game on a hot streak after scoring 22 points against the Golden State Warriors. See how Rondo and Miller stacked up in the past five games:

Rajon Rondo: 29.2 minutes, 16.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 55.7% FG
Andre Miller: 36.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 42.3% FG

Keep an Eye On …
The obvious scoring options on the 76ers are Brand and Andre Iguodala. This season, however, versatile forward Thaddeus Young is emerging in Philly. Young is quietly averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds, catching the attention of Garnett.

‘€œA lot of people don’t really talk about him but Thaddeus Young, I think, is having an exceptional year,’€ Garnett said. ‘€œHe’s hitting threes, he’s been able to come off picks … and he’s aggressive. Just some of the games that I’ve seen, when they win it’s because he’s playing really well.’€

Read more on Young here.

The Bottom Line
‘€œI think they ran a lot more this year than last year,’€ said Paul Pierce. ‘€œThey’re good in transition with Iguodala but I think now that they’ve added Brand to the dimension, they’re more built I think for the playoffs. They have early struggles, I think they’re a better team than their record has really shown as they get used to one another, but definitely they’re capable of scoring 100 points. But we’ve got our work cut out for us again defensively.’€

Check in with the WEEI Celtics Game Day Blog for all the latest from the Celtics-76ers match up.

Read More: 76ers, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Celtics
Preview: Celtics vs. 76ers 10.08.08 at 11:28 am ET
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The biggest storyline of tonight’s preseason match up between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers is the addition of Elton Brand. But while Brand makes the Sixers an instant threat to the Cs in the Atlantic Division, the veteran isn’t the only player the Celtics will have to keep an eye on. The 76ers have a duo of young talent with promising potential who impressed during summer league play:

  • Thaddeus Young: 12th overall pick in 2007 out of Georgia Tech … only 20, has enormous upside … gives the 76ers versatility with his ability to multiple positions … at 6’8″ could cause match up problems for smaller defenders … as a rookie showed maturity in 2008 playoffs (10.2, ppg, 4.5 rpg) against the experienced Detroit Pistons … shined at 2008 Las Vegas Summer League (18.8 ppg) and got the vote of confidence from head coach Mo Cheeks.
  • Marreese Speights: 16th overall pick in 2008 out of Florida … at 6’10″ 245 lbs. is a beast on the boards ‘€¦ ranked second in rebounding at Vegas Summer League (18.2 ppg, 10.2 ppg) ‘€¦ gives the 76ers more defensive depth on the glass, which is critical to their fast break running game … think Al Jefferson with more speed … could be dangerous once he becomes consistent at the line … Cheeks was happy with all-around summer performance and sees Speights learning from Brand this season.

Jason Smith rounded out the Sixers trio of emerging big men at the Vegas Summer League before tearing his ACL in August. WEEI has you covered tonight from UMass Amherst to see how the Celtics match up against Brand, Young, Speights, and the revamped 76ers.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Elton Brand, Jason Smith, Marreese Speights
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