Its game 1, of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and the Sixers are up 14 points to Boston midway through the game. Suddenly they give up a big run to the Celtics, and wind up losing the game by 1 point. Many fingers could have been pointed. But that is not what playoff teams do. They rebound, they fight, and in game 2 they make a statement.
Its game 2, of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and the Sixers are looking to sneak out of Boston with a tied series. putting the ghosts of game 1 behind them they pound on the Celtics, literally, and make a statement. The statement was that the Sixers may not be an elite team, but we will fight. They complete their mission, and now head back to Philadelphia with an even series.
It was obvious from the start that Doug Collins’ new game plan was to make Kevin Garnett work for each point he got, having rookie Lavoy Allen bang bodies with him all night. Now in the NBA, roughing up your opponent is nothing new. But this was significant because of the players involved. Lavoy Allen was a second round draft pick from Temple, a team that played in the weak Atlantic 10 conference. Then you have Kevin Garnett. KG is a future Hall Of Famer, former NBA champion, and has multiple All Star appearances on his resume. Kevin Garnett is also one of the better big men in the league, and the only argument against him being one of the best is his age and durability. Lavoy Allen physically beat up on Garnett, and took him out of his game.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Sixers didn’t beat the Celtics handily, they only won by a score of 82-81. But it was a statement. It was the skinny kid at the playground punching the big bully in the mouth. It was Rocky taking Apollo Creed the distance in Rocky 1. The only question is does the skinny kid force the bully to go home? Does Rocky 1 transition to Rocky 2? If the first two games were any sort of indication on how this series could turn out, then the Sixers have a punchers chance.
Now what do the Sixers have to do to have continued success against the Celtics? I have narrowed it down to 3 things.
1. They obviously have to get their shooters going. Lou Williams has been very cold this series, and has yet to find any sort of rhythm. Jodie Meeks was our ice-man at the end of game 2, and role usually reserved for Lou Williams.
2. The Sixers also have to evolve. The Celtics will change their game, if not in game 3 then most definitely in game 4. If Lavoy continues to handle Garnett then Boston may not try to attack the rim as much. You may see them settle for jumpers. The key will then be to take Paul Pierce and Ray Allen out of the game. If the Sixers can adjust better than Boston, then the Sixers will win the series.
3. Evan Turner. Turner started the game off somewhat shaky. Collins said that Turner was very frustrated, and would not calm down. If Turner can find his game he can help the Sixers when it comes to rebounding and attacking the rim. Doug has to find a way to get him started early in games. Try to give him some easy shots and some early rebounds. This kid is poised for a double-double this series.