Celtics 83, 76ers 92
Doc Rivers said the Celtics played “the right way” during Game 3. That play carried over through the first half of Game 4, helping Boston take a 46-31 lead into halftime.
As much as the first half was played the right way, the second half was played the wrong way. The Celtics blew their 15-point cushion and wound up being outscored by 24 points in the second half, leading to a 92-83 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
It wasn’t as if Boston slowly morphed from a dominant force into an inefficient group, either. No, this happened immediately when the second half began.
The Celtics settled for jump shot after jump shot when the third quarter began. They also displayed carelessness with the basketball. The ugliness of their play led to a drought of nearly seven minutes without a field goal to begin the second half.
During that time frame, which lasted exactly six minutes and 55 seconds, Boston shot a woeful 0-for-9 from the field while notching just four points from the free-throw line. The C’s also committed two turnovers during that stretch.
Of all of the teams in the league, and especially the eight teams remaining in the postseason, Boston may be the one that can be affected most at one end of the court by its play at the other end of the court. When the offense is humming, it’s usually because the defense is clicking. On the flip side, when the offense is struggling, it typically means the defense is, too.
Such was the case tonight, as the 76ers slowly crept back into the game during Boston’s offensive lull. Philadelphia had scored 15 points in the third quarter before the Celtics notched their first field goal. When Elton Brand hit a jumper with 5:22 remaining in the third, Boston’s 15-point halftime lead had already been sliced down to five and this one was a game.
Sadly for the Celtics, they never returned to playing the right way in the second half and they wound up losing this critical basketball game.
Boston’s overall struggles in the second half led to a shooting percentage of 31.4 percent over the final 24 minutes. The team also committed eight turnovers during the second half that led to 11 Philadelphia points.
Meanwhile, as noted above, the Sixers found their stride on offense. After shooting just 23.1 percent in the first half, Philly made 51.2 percent of its shots in the second half. That turning of the tides helped the Sixers outscore the C’s by 24 points over the final 24 minutes of the game.
It was a tale of two halves for these two teams tonight in the Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics played the right way in the first half, while the 76ers struggled in front of their home faithful. Those roles reversed enough in the second half to allow Philadelphia to tie this series up and in effect make it a best-of-three showdown.
Key Box Score Line
Doc Rivers called Lou Williams a “shot-maker” before this series began. Williams was certainly one of those tonight.
The league’s runner up in the Sixth Man of the Year award voting came off the bench to score 15 big points for the Sixers during Game 4. He hit five of his 11 shot attempts and also contributed four rebounds and a team-high eight assists. Philadelphia was a whopping plus-28 in the scoring column during his 28:34 of playing time.
Needless to say, Williams was a game-changer in Game 4. No one on Boston’s roster, from Avery Bradley to Rajon Rondo, could slow him down.
“Lou Williams, that was about as good as I’ve seen him play, basketball-wise,” said Andre Iguodala, moments before also calling his teammate the “player of the game.”
Thanks to Williams’ clutch performance, this series is now all tied up at two games apiece
Box Score Nuggets
- Philadelphia scored more points in the fourth quarter (33) than it did in the entire first half (31).
- Paul Pierce scored a game-high 24 points.
- The Celtics shot just 7-of-23 from downtown.
- Five 76ers players scored at least 11 points, while just three Celtics scored in double-figures.
- Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner tied for the team-high in scoring with 16 points apiece for Philly.
- The Sixers outrebounded Boston 52-38.
- Philadelphia scored 27 fast-break points.
- Rajon Rondo scored 15 points and dished out a game-high 15 assists.
- Boston dished out 26 assists compared to just seven turnovers.
- Kevin Garnett grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
- The 76ers attempted 36 free throws compared to just 19 attempts by Boston.
- Boston's bench scored a total of just 12 points.
- Two of Philadelphia's reserves, Lou Williams (15 points) and Thaddeus Young (12 points) tied or scored more points than the entire Boston bench.
- Williams finished the game with a plus-28 in the plus/minus category.
- None of Philadelphia's starters finished with a positive plus/minus rating.
- Brandon Bass scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.