Two things we can be certain about after Boston knocked off Philadelphia:
- The Celtics will not shoot 11-19 from 3-point range every night.
- When they do, there’s a really fantastic chance they will win.
There were a lot of positives to take away from tonight, as well as some interesting tidbits, so let’s get right to the bullet points.
- Boston shot an incredible percentage from the field, especially on jumpshots. So why was the game so close? 22 turnovers badly marred the offense. Rivers’ strategy against backcourt pressure was evident: Push the ball immediately after a rebound as much as possible in order to avoid the kind of pressure defense that gives Boston’s series of not-really-point guards problems. It worked at times (in no small part because Avery Bradley was hitting EVERYTHING from the field through three quarters), and at other times, it was a chaotic disaster.
- The strangest part about the turnovers was the way Boston struggled to inbound the ball…after Philadelphia’s made baskets. Philadelphia scored at least three times after picking off lazy passes in the backcourt.
- After struggling early in the first quarter against Jrue Holiday (who, incidentally, is really good), Avery Bradley made a couple of adjustments and quickly became Boston’s player of the game. He scored 22 points on a very efficient 10-15 shooting night, but his ball-denial and transition defense turned Holiday from an unstoppable menace in the first into a fairly tame 6-17 shooter. Most impressive was his transition defense. On one play, Bradley somehow managed to backtrack and stay in front of Holiday, who is extremely fast, and knock the ball out of his hands and out of bounds. Bradley’s intelligence as a defender is impressive, but it’s his athleticism that makes him so special.
- Paul Pierce finished with 30 minutes. Kevin Garnett finished with 28. The bench mob did a great job of allowing Doc to limit the elderly folks’ minutes with a brutal back-to-back tomorrow against Indiana.
- Jeff Green continued his efficient play on offense with 16 points on eight field goal attempts. Green was noticeably aggressive offensively, getting to the free throw line nine times (and making seven).
- The Celtics actually grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, which is impressive, but they also allowed 10 offensive boards to Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes alone. Most of those rebounds turned into second chance points, which, along with the turnovers, were a big part of why the Sixers stayed within striking defense.
- I remember just three of Dorell Wright’s 13 shots…two three pointers and that 360 reverse layup that missed badly. But Wright was 3-13 from the field. He joined Evan Turner (6-19) and Holiday in a trio of inefficient shooters for the evening.
- Philadelphia won the points in the paint 64-38. All I’m saying: It’s a really, really good thing the Celtics were hitting their jumpers.
- Doug Collins dragged the end of that game out interminably by calling what felt like 300 timeouts and telling his players to foul over and over. It was painful, especially given how badly TNT clearly wanted to get to the Lakers/Thunder game.
- More on this tomorrow, but Jordan Crawford could really fit into this offense nicely. He is a willing passer (if not always the most effective one) when he is running the point, he handles the ball nicely and he actually shot really well tonight, finishing 4-7 from the field and 2-3 from 3-point range for 12 points. You could see Doc encouraging him to keep shooting, and I’m inclined to agree. It was absolutely essential that Crawford respect the veteran leadership around him when he arrived in Boston, and he seems as eager to please as we could have possibly hoped for.