Behind the consistently good play of Paul Pierce this season and the well-timed bursts of Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics continue to squeak out wins, even against sub par teams.
Rajon Rondo, an unreliable outside shooter thus far, made a huge baseline turnaround fade away to give the Celtics a 109-105 lead with 9 seconds left.
After an Andre Iguodala three pointer brings the Sixers back within one, Ray Allen hits two big free throws. Thaddeus Young then hits two, making the score 110-111 with 2.7 seconds left. Eddie House is fouled and makes two more foul shots with 1.8 seconds for the final score. The Celtics escape again with a win.
They are 11-4, but are doing it more like an ‘above average’, but not a great team would do it. They aren’t intimidating anyone right now. The starters played better than the subs again, excepting Eddie House, and the team can’t seem to put a solid 48 minutes of defensive effort together.
For most of the game, it was very closely contested with neither team up more than 4-6 points.
The Celtics did break a bad habit and got out of box quickly this time. Trying to start the game as the aggressor for a change, they went up 9-4 and 14-9 before holding on to a 27-23 first quarter lead. By half time that lead was gone.
Paul Pierce led all scorers with 27 points and Rondo came alive in the fourth quarter with 8 of his 10 points, 3 textbook assists and 2 rebounds to win 113-110.
Rando is being used with the second unit more of late and seems to have a natural chemistry with Marquis Daniels. He had two nice assists for lay ups with Daniels as they both attacked the basket together.
Pierce had 7 fourth quarter points as well as 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and some solid defensive work as he drew a big charge on Andre Iguodala in the final minute.
Pierce shot 10 of 15 overall, 3 of 7 from the three point line, with 6 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and a block, while adding a nice strip or two of Philly offensive force Andre Iguodala.
The Celtics have beaten Philadelphia 6 straight times now, the Sixers have lost 4 in a row, and are 2-8 after starting 3-2. Eddie Jordan has had his troubles getting the team to adapt to his Princeton offensive system.
Philly was without the injured Elton Brand, Louis Williams, and Marreese Speights for this game, Jason Smith and Jrue Holiday started and both did capably well. But it was a supposedly weak bench that kept the 76ers in the game.
Philadelphia substitutes Jason Kapono and Willie Green were Celtic killers last night. Kapono finished with a season high 20 points and Willie Green had 14 third quarter points and finished with 18 points on 5 of 7 shooting in 14 minutes.
The past three seasons the Philadelphia 76ers took 10.0, 11.6 and 13.1 three point shots per game – at the very bottom of the NBA. They have been and are still a fast break team.
This season they are taking 17.7 shots from the arc, but are still second in the league with 18.8 fast break points per game. They had 23 in this contest.
A number of statistical characteristics went against contrary to form in this contest.
Normally a poor rebounding team, the 76ers won that battle 39-37.
Also a top team in steals differential (+2.2), last night the Celtics had 6 steals to their 4.
Normally a lower percentage three point shooting team, Philly was lights out beyond the arc with 13 of 20 three point shots made. Celtic coverage on those shots was usually late. The Celtics, a top three point shooting team, was just 7 for 27 on the night.
The Celtics outscored the Sixers in the painted area 42-32.
The Celtics best three point shooters continued their poor shooting from the arc. Ray Allen was 1of 6, and is 3 of 14 over his last 4 games. Eddie House was 1 of 5 from downtown and is 4 of 15 over his last three games.
Rasheed Wallace went 2 for 6 from the arc, while Marquis Daniels showed why he should be taking it to the hoop with 2 misses from the outer limits.
Wallace has one shot block in the last 5 games.
Kevin Garnett went for 19 points on 5 of 9 shooting with a surprising 12 trips to the foul line for 9 makes. He added 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He has not had a steal or a block for two straight games. That has happened 4 times this season. He pulled a double zero in those categories only 6 times the entire season last year.
Ray Allen finished with 18 points, shooting 6 of 14 overall, in a well played game. He contributed 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. He had a tough assignment in guarding Andre Iguodala, as well.
Kendrick Perkins finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds, a block and a steal in 23 minutes of play.
So, heading into Thanksgiving the Celtics are truly thankful for another win that could have turned into a loss.
They play the Raptors in Boston on Friday.