BOSTON, April 21 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson
carried the Philadelphia
76ers for one quarter. Paul Pierce
shouldered the Boston
Celtics' offense for the entire game.
Pierce had 31 points and 11 rebounds and Antoine Walker
20 points as the Boston Celtics overcame Iverson's return to
defeat the 76ers, 92-82, in Game One of their Eastern Conference
Iverson missed the final 14 games of the regular season after
suffering a broken hand against Boston on March 22. He looked
like the reigning the Most Valuable Player in the first quarter,
but Pierce played like a candidate for the award thereafter.
Iverson scored Philadelphia's first four points, nailing a
jumper just four seconds into the game before sinking a pair of
free throws 66 seconds later. He scored 15 points on 4-of-6
shooting in the first 12 minutes, but Pierce was nearly as
NBA TV highlights from|
McCarty from halfcourt:
E.piphany of the Day:
With a combined 51 points and 18 rebounds, Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker pounded on the Sixers.
Nathaniel S. Butler
The Sixers shot just 3-of-19 (15.8%) from the field in the third quarter.
Pierce scored nine points in the opening period and completed a
three-point play to erase the Sixers' final lead and forge a
28-28 tie with 20 seconds left. Walter McCarty
half-court shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer and give the
Celtics lead for good.
"I knew it was going to be on track but I didn't know it was
going to go in," McCarty said. "It really lifts the team up and
gives us a little bit of momentum."
Iverson, who did not start the second quarter, could not regain
his form after returning with 8:30 remaining in the first half.
He missed his final nine shots and finished with 20 points,
making just five free throws in the final three quarters.
"I just missed shots," he said. "I took a couple of bad shots
that were really contested. For the most part, I felt like I
took shots that I can make. I just didn't knock them down, for
whatever reason. It didn't have anything to do with the hand or
the defender or anything. I just missed shots. That's part of
"I thought it was a miracle he's out there," Sixers coach Larry
Brown said. "He hasn't practiced. I thought he tried awful hard.
He made some shots early and couldn't make anything late. I
think our team deferred to him. We seemed to figure that he was
going to win it for us."
The third-seeded Celtics led by as many as 11 points twice in
the second quarter and had a 55-51 edge 2:14 into the third
quarter before Pierce scored the first seven points during an
11-2 run. He sank a 15-footer and followed with a tip shot
before draining a 3-pointer with 6:59 to go.
"I told our coaches (the Celtics) are ready to blow this thing
out. We've got to get control," Brown said. "Then we come out in
the third quarter and we self-destructed. Give them credit.
They did a great job of getting the ball to the right people."
Boston had a 66-53 edge after the spurt and cruised to its first
playoff victory since Game Two of its first-round meeting with
Orlando in 1995.
In his first playoff game, Pierce made 10-of-25 shots from the
floor, including 3-of-8 3-pointers, and was showered by chants
of "MVP!" in the final minutes from the crowd at the
FleetCenter, which was hosting its first postseason game.
"I thought knew what playoff basketball really was, but I didn't
know until I stepped out on that court," Pierce said. "It sent
chills through my body to hear the whole crowd chanting MVP."
Also in his first postseason game, Walker made 8-of-23 shots and
grabbed seven rebounds. He made 2-of-4 3-pointers as the
Celtics went 8-of-18 from beyond the arc, tying a pair of
franchise playoff records.
"You really have to be a part of our basketball team to
understand the impact on everything that we do," Boston coach
Jim O'Brien said. "We're blessed to have great leadership from
our captains, but Antoine has a real sense of the game and what
we're trying to accomplish. He's a very big reason that we find
ourselves where we are right now."
McCarty scored 14 points off the bench as Boston saw its
reserves outscore Philadelphia's, 23-15.
had 18 points and eight rebounds and Eric Snow
scored 11 points apiece for the sixth-seeded
Sixers, who lost Game One of their first-round series for the
second straight season.
had nine points and 11 rebounds and Derrick
added nine and 10 for Philadelphia, which held a slight
44-39 rebounding edge but shot just 38 percent (27-of-71).
The Sixers committed 18 turnovers leading to 19 points for the
Celtics. Snow and Iverson, Philadelphia's starting backcourt,
combined for eight turnovers.
"They played better than us, today. It's simple as that,"
Iverson said. "We know we can beat this team and we know that
they're obviously capable of beating us. They had a better game
than us. We just couldn't get anything going offensively and we
couldn't stop them defensively. That's just how the game goes
Game Two of the best-of-five series is Thursday in Boston. This
is the 18th playoff series between the rival franchises but the
first since 1985.
"This game is behind us, we've got to stop thinking about it and
go into practice thinking about game No. 2," McCarty said.
"We've got this one under our belt, now we've go to move on."