Not the Big Three, but the threes
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on December 6, 2007
That’s what gave the f’n Celtics a 103-113 win at the Wachovia center, and made our record slide at 5-13 (.278).
Sixers played a heck of a game for 40 minutes. Unfortunately games last more. Same old story. These guys always play hard, give 100% on the court, but their flaws in a 48 minutes games are exposed sooner or later. This time it was our porous perimeter defense again (10-22 from three point land for Boston) and some unexpected exploits by Celtics’ role players that we couldn’t guard.
It sucks containing the Big Three to a “standard” night and getting burned by the Eddie Houses, the Tony Allens and the James Poseys of this league. Not to take anything from them, they are very good players, and they showed it. And I’ve always been a big fan of Posey (well, I was…). It’s just that you don’t think you can lose a game because of them when you have to face Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
But this is what happens with a team with three proven all stars. They just play their standard basketball on a daily basis, and they open up spots for the others: it’s reserves’ job, then, to take advantage of the chances they are given. They did it versus the Sixers. Whatever…
The first game with Ed Stefanski as GM, after Billy King was fired, started with a wonderful surprise: Sixers wearing some damn cool retro uniforms (in the picture). Jeez, I love those. While we are “re-examinating everything, from the top to the bottom”, can we please sack also the current lame jerseys (especially the black ones), fire the modern logo (LOL) and go back to the old style unis, with our storied 76ers logo?
Ed, please. Please. And bring back the red uniforms, full time. Red is the colour of this franchise. What has black to do with the Sixers? Nothing. It was a (dumb) marketing trick that came up during the beginning of the hip hop era, likely to please young fans and try to sell more stuff. Ok, since that era is over – and since nobody is buying Sixers unis anyway… - can we go back to red now?
The retro uniforms gave us a spark in a pretty unbelievable first quarter, when Sixers shot 73% (14/19) and ended it with a 32-26 lead. Miller abused Rondo (6/7, 13 p), Iguodala was on fire too (5/5, 11 p). Celtics kept the game close thanks to 57% shooting (12/21).
In the second the margin was extended to 11 points, 42-31, on a three point play by a very effective Dalembert. “Celtics’ defense is two steps behind its usual standard” said Boston broadcasters. True. Add that to a terrific start by every single Sixer and you have an idea of what happened.
Miller continued embarassing Rajon Rondo in every possible way (and Rondo is known as a very good defender), and Sixers mantained a 11 point lead: it was 55-44 and 57-46, when Iggy beated the shot clock. Pierce and Garnett made some tough shots in the final minutes and at the half time the score was 57-52.
At the break, Sixers stats were impressive: 60% FG (24/40), 7/11 FT, 19 rebounds (Celtics had 11), 12 assists (vs 11), “only” 6 turnovers. Miller had already 19 (8/11) + 5 rebounds + 6 assists (!!!), Iguodala 14 (6/7), Dalembert 9 (3/3), Lou Williams 7 (3/4). Wow ! Celtics weren’t bad either: 51% FG (21/41), 3/8 from three point land, 7/9 FT: Garnett had 12 on 5/8, Perkins 8 (4/5 … he even looked like a player), Pierce 6 (3/5), Ray Allen 7 but with 2/7.
The problem was that, even with those stellar numbers (that meant also our season high for points in the first half), our lead was only 5 points, not exactly comfortable when you are playing such a good, experienced, deep team.
So it was hardly a surprise when Celtics completed a 13-0 run, including the end of the second quarter, to take a 57-59 lead at the beginning of the third. Boston started playing some tough defense, putting some pressure on us and knocking down some really tough shots. But proud Sixers replied and the two teams made it a nice game to watch, with many lead changes and spectacular plays.
Lou Williams showed all his talent again, scoring and feeding his team mates. A couple of threes by James Posey helped C’s take a 77-81 lead and the quarter ended 80-83 with Rondo going coast to coast to beat the buzzer.
In the fourth Cheeks decided to go small, putting Korver in with Iguodala, Miller, Lou Williams and Sam as our only big man. The move paid off at the beginning (Sixers were up 86-83), but after it started raining… It was a rain of threes: Eddie House had two, Posey another one to put Boston ahead (88-92).
Then Paul Pierce went to work, dishing out a lot of assists (he ended up with an amazing 12), the last two to Posey for this fourth, long three and to House for another jumper: 94-105 with 2.48 left, game over.
Not a bad game for us, but count it as another loss. Miller’s best night of the season, Iguodala’s, Williams’, Dalembert’s solid contributions weren’t enough. The 8 men rotation that Cheeks went with didn’t help, in my opinion: guys were tired in the second half. Iguodala played 46 minutes, and he also had to guard Pierce, Miller 42. Jason Smith, our 8th man, only 11.
As for Boston, seems that all is going in the Celtics way: the three all stars are playing great, it’s clear they love to play together, they don’t care about individual stats, and it’s also evident that it was easy for them to find chemistry. The key to me, barring injuries of course, is how their role players can keep the pace. Right now, they are doing great and even stepping up, and this – unfortunately for all of us, Celtics haters – helps building confidence.
If scrubs (I confirm: scrubs) such as Rondo and Perkins can bring something to the table every night, then Celtics will be scaring until the end, and, contrary to my predictions, can have a shot to the Finals. Posey, Tony Allen and House are on another level to me, especially the former Heat who is a great, versatile player.
They anyway were simply too much for the young, rebuilding, tired Sixers. Retro uniforms are cool but they don’t make miracles happen. At least so far.