05/17/12 1:35 pm EST
If only the Sixers could have summoned Andrew Toney from the 1982-83 season for help last night, then maybe Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals would have been different. Instead, they suffered a 107-91 home trouncing at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
Toney could shoot, and that’s an understatement. On Wednesday night, the Sixers couldn’t; and that’s an understatement.
We know that the Sixers haven’t been a good shooting team all year long and that they’ve used their defense and their run and gun prowess to survive and win games. But the Celtics were having none of that as last night, as they forced the Sixers to play in a half-court contest, where Philadunkia’s home team is uncomfortable.
True to the scouting report, the Sixers were miserable. P erhaps, fools’ gold in the 1st quarter made the Sixers think that their offense was in rhythm and flowing. After all, they had 33 points (on 12-20 shooting) and everything was clicking; including a buzzer beater heave from Lou Williams for a deep 3.
The problem was that the 76ers then went out and put up a COMBINED 33 POINTS in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
The juvenile Sixers resorted to the same style of play that helped them blow Game 1 in the 4th quarter. They failed to penetrate, and they failed to get themselves free throw opportunities with regularity.
Instead, they threw up jumper after jumper, mostly with the same empty result.
In the first 8½ minutes of the 2nd quarter, the Sixers attempted 12 shots. Eight of those shots were jumpers. They only made 3 field goals during that time period and saw their 33-28 lead turn into an 8 point deficit. It didn’t help that Kevin Garnett, himself, had outscored them during that stretch.
By the way, no one had an answer for the profusely sweaty big man. He owned Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand, and seemingly whoever else stood in his way. The one man who could at least pretend to successfully guard him, Lavoy Allen, was riddled with foul trouble.
His old (that can actually be taken literally) comrade, Paul Pierce was a force in his own right. Including, a 1st quarter statement dunk, that would make a gullible person believe it was 1998.
Pierce and Garnett combined for 51 points. Oh, and some guy named Rajon Rondo had 23 points and 14 assists.
The Celtics were in control offensively, and the only to slow them down was to have better offensive possessions.
The Sixers needed to drive the ball, maintain consistent ball movement and try to get easier shots. Instead, the offense was stagnant and simply lifeless. It was the death sentence approach of “let’s stand around and watch one guy try to create.” Or it was the “we need a bucket so I’m just gonna shoot this jumper because I can approach.”
The box score would indicate that neither of these strategies worked.
The Sixers trailed by 1 at halftime and one would think things would change, at least in offensive strategy. That was not the case.
The third quarter began with 5 straight missed jump shots.
It was as if the Sixers lived in some alternate universe where their shots went in, and they were going to keep going with what worked.
The poor shooting aided Boston, because the Celtics beat the Sixers at their own game. They forced them into bad shots; leading to rebounds and scoring opportunities in transition (21 FB points).
While, the Sixers didn’t help themselves, the Celtics must be credited for putting the clamps on the Sixers, and essentially giving them the open looks ONLY outside of the paint. They completely took an already mediocre shooting team out of their rhythm and because of it, they now take a 2-1 series lead.
Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, and Evan Turner were a combined 4 for 24 from the field.
That pretty much sums it up.
Outside of the 1st quarter, the Sixers had no answer offensively and for the first time the Celtics just looked like the better team.
The scary part is that Ray Allen is still in a slumber and yet the Celtics’ offense seemed to have found itself last night.
That’s bad news for a Sixers’ team that looked as if they had never learned how to cut to the basket or have ever heard the term pick-and-roll.
The good news is that a win in Game 4 turns the 2nd round contest into a brand new 3 game series. But, the Sixers must execute some offensive plan that gets them easy shots, more free throw attempts, and limits Boston transition opportunities.
Unless they expect Andrew Toney to come walking onto the court (Insert Rick Pitino – Boston rant clip here).