With his history for coming back strong after big games, the Celtics knew they had to be ready for a potential explosion from Allen Iverson in Game Two. Kenny Anderson and Erick Strickland split the assignment on Thursday night and both turned in remarkable defensive efforts on the reigning NBA MVP and scoring champion. Iverson's 49 points in the series is the fewest he has scored in Games One and Two of any playoff series since he scored 43 versus Charlotte in 1999 - the first two playoff games of his career.
"Kenny and Strick did a phenomenal job on him," said Celtics assistant coach Frank Vogel. "He is going to make impossible shots whether he has two, three, four guys draped on him. These guys just did a great job on making him work extremely hard for the ones that he did make. It is impossible to stop him, but they worked their tails off to make it difficult for him."
Here is what each player did against Iverson at the FleetCenter on Thursday night.
|Head To Head
||After holding Iverson in check for most of the first half, it appeared that the C's point guard might have more than he could handle at the start of the second half when Iverson drained his first three field goal attempts. But Anderson responded in his own fashion, hitting three straight buckets and assisting on a fourth mid-way through the third.
||Strickland allowed Iverson to string together consecutive buckets only once in the contest. He came in in the third quarter with Iverson having hit 3 of his last 4 shots and then held the Sixers star scoreless for a three-minute span.
||Anderson took the brunt of the load last night, and performed spectacularly. Not only did he hold Iverson to less than 50 percent shooting, but he also pitched in
12 points. "The plan was to try to make him drive," said Anderson. "If we could make him drive, then I knew I could count on the guys behind me. That is what we talked about for days going into the
|Strickland's more aggressive style of defending was more risky, but proved to be just as effective. He showed last night why Celtics coaches consider him to be the Celtics best on-the-ball defender. "He is MVP, right?," asked Strickland following the game. "Yeah, he is going to score. Allen is going to get his points. He is an outstanding player. But we just want to make it tough on him. That is our goal. To make sure he just doesn't go off on a rampage, that he doesn't go off on one of his shooting sprees."
Photos By Steve Lipofsky