There isn’t a team in the NBA that dislikes watching its reserves take over a game at the most important stage of the contest. The Boston Celtics were provided such an opportunity Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Doc Rivers had plenty of reasons to return his starters to the game entering the fourth quarter, but he was patient with several reserves who had allowed a 14-point lead to dwindle down to just five heading into the final frame.
The Sixers owned all of the game’s momentum at that point. Boston had fallen into a rut of turning the ball over, which allowed the Sixers to finish the third on an 8-0 run. Boston's backups had let a blowout game turn into a tight one.
Most coaches would turn to their top players under those circumstances. After all, the game was essentially hanging in the balance entering the fourth period. Rivers, however, remained confident in his bench. He sent four reserves onto the floor to begin the final quarter, as Jason Terry, Terrence Williams, Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green surrounded Kevin Garnett.
That fivesome turned out to be exactly what the Celtics needed. They worked together at both ends of the court to lead Boston to a 9-0 run to begin the final frame, which bumped the team’s lead back up to a comfortable 14 points. Crawford (five points) and Green (two points) combined for the first seven points of that run before Garnett put home a layup, which was assisted by Crawford.
That, my friends, is faith and trust. Rivers relied on his reserves at a time in which most coaches would turn to their stars. The move worked, leading the C’s to a relatively comfortable 109-101 victory in Philadelphia.
Key Box Score Line
Avery Bradley is known best for his defense, but he brought a lot more than that to the table Tuesday night in Philadelphia. Bradley poured in a game-high and season-high 22 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists during the Celtics’ third-straight win.
Boston’s starting shooting guard was on fire all night long from just about everywhere on the floor. He scored in the paint, in the mid-range and from the perimeter while canning 10 of his 15 shots, including a 2-for-4 performance from downtown.
Bradley was the most valuable player in the game and that’s why Doc Rivers wound up leaving him on the floor for a team-high 34 minutes of action. The Celtics outscored the Sixers by five points during those minutes thanks to Bradley’s stellar all-around performance.
Box Score Nuggets
- Philadelphia had seven players score in double-figures but it still lost the game by eight points.
- Avery Bradley's 22 points doubled as a season high and a game high.
- The Celtics outrebounded the 76ers 49-45.
- Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each scored 18 points.
- Jeff Green led the game in free throws made and attempted, as he shot 7-of-9 from the stripe.
- Outside of Green, no other Celtics player attempted more than two free throws.
- Courtney Lee led the Celtics in steals with three.
- Jordan Crawford scored 12 points off of the bench in just 16 minutes of action.
- Jrue Holiday dished out a game-high 10 assists to go along with 18 points.
- Pierce grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
- The Celtics scored at least 26 points in all four quarters.
- Philadelphia scored 64 of its 101 points in the paint.
- The Sixers scored 101 points despite shooting 41 percent from the field.
- Boston shot 11-of-19 (57.9 percent) from 3-point range.
- Garnett and Chris Wilcox each blocked two shots.
- Garnett (six), Pierce (five) and Bradley (four) combined for 15 turnovers.
- Four Celtics (Garnett, Pierce, Jeff Green and Crawford) finished with a plus/minus of at least plus-nine.
- Boston committed 22 turnovers that led to 30 Philadelphia points.
Quote of the Night
It's funny, Kevin (Garnett) and all of the guys got on him at halftime, because he missed a couple of shots and you could see he didn't want to shoot anymore. They beat me before I had to say it: 'This is what you do. You shoot the ball.' Doc Rivers on Jordan Crawford being approached by his teammates at halftime