May 14, 2012

Celtics vs. 76ers


When you go to college anywhere near the Philadelphia vicinity like I do, you might find yourself unconsciously supporting Philly sports teams. Something I've learned over the years is the raw passion of Philly's fans, not to mention their gritty, often times ruthless nature (like when Joakim Noah went down in Game 3 and the Philly crowd roared in approval). That being said, I am inspired by the playoff spirit of Philadelphia. However, the only reason I want to see Boston advance is because a Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals would undoubtedly be a more compelling series than Sixers-Heat. Still, I am not counting out the 76ers. I even wrote in my last post that Philly could very well be geared for a trip to the Conference Finals, a place they haven't been since Larry Brown and Allen Iverson rejuvenated them a decade ago. But the Sixers missed an enormous opportunity to gain some momentum in Game 1, where they led by as much as 10 early in the fourth quarter in Boston. For most of the game, Philly looked like the fresher team, active on both ends and getting some easy baskets in transition. An uptempto style favors Philly because they are younger, but also because they are not as efficient in their half court offense. What we saw in Game 1 was the more experienced, veteran team rise to the occasion and handle their possessions more productively. Rondo and KG ignited a 23-7 run to start the fourth quarter and hardly ever looked back. Ironically enough, what sparked the Celtics' run was a pair of Rondo jumpers after Philly took a 10 point lead at the 11 minute mark. Boston is getting more than they could ask for from KG, who at 35 years old is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in these playoffs. Some encouraging factors for Philly: Iggy could be the ideal match up to neutralize Paul Pierce, who went just 3-11 in Game 1. Also, a one point loss in Boston should let them know one thing: they CAN win in Boston. That is, they have the potential. I am interested to see if Philly can put together a 48 minute effort for Game 2, and gain some momentum before going back home. I think Philly's patience will be crucial, particularly in the fourth quarter, in order for them to steal a win in Game 2. But if Rondo is getting triple-doubles and KG gets his average, they might not have enough weapons to counter. Plus, I don't expect Pierce and Allen to combine for a quiet 7-21 shooting again.

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