Celts look to Rebound in pivotal Game 5
By Zachary Winn
The Celtics are heading back to Boston to try to take control of what is now anybody’s series.
As I said in my last article, there’s essentially two Celtics teams that can rear their respective heads on any given night and in Game four’s stunning meltdown, we saw them both.
We all watched the Celtics take command of the game early with a 14-0 run and thought the same thing, “this series is over.” The 76ers seemed to once again have no answer for Boston’s lockdown defense and Paul Pierce was hitting every shot he took.
But it was the ease of the first half that made stopping Philadelphia’s alarming run so difficult. Maybe that “this series is over” thought spilled into the locker room at halftime and left the Celtics overly complacent.
There’s only one way to play lockdown defense; desperately. The Celtics came out desperate to start the game, but when things got close they simply couldn’t get the stops they’ve relied on in every tight game so far this postseason. They allowed Philadelphia to shoot over 50 percent in the second half, which if you’ve watched this team for the past month, you’d know is an aberration.
And so the Celtics have had the weekend to let this one sink in, knowing full well they gave up the opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead back to Boston with them.
There are a couple of red flags from game 4. Kevin Garnett’s struggles with Lavoy Allen on him continued. Garnett just 3 of 12 for the game and had seven turnovers. The rookie Allen was a plus 11 in his series-high 33 minutes on Friday. Sixers coach Doug Collins will no doubt lean on him just as much in game five.
We saw another flag in Lou Williams. The Celtics have been able to keep Williams in check for most of the series (he’s 16 for 45 so far) and he had another bad shooting night Friday, but his 13 second half points fueled the 76ers comeback. It’s dangerous to give scorers like Williams stretches like that. The 76ers bench scored 44 points in game four and Williams will be a player to watch going forward.
Rajon Rondo’s 15 point, 15 assist effort was impressive (at this point, we’re clearly taking Rondo’s eye-popping assist figures for granted), but you never got the feeling he was taking control of the game. The fact that Rondo lacks the ability to take over games for stretches when the offense is failing puts undue pressure on his veteran teammates to do so.
Bottom line, the Celtics absolutely gave up what should have been an easy victory in Philadelphia Friday. They went six games with an inferior Hawks team last round and now will go at least six with the 76ers. For a team that needs all the rest it can get, the Celtics have made everything look difficult this postseason. Friday’s game should light a fire under a Celtics team that can’t afford to flicker much longer.
So maybe game four is what the 76ers needed to get their confidence back, or maybe it’s just what the Celtics needed to wake up.