Celtics blow lead, collapse in Philadelphia, 92-83

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Celtics blow lead, collapse in Philadelphia, 92-83

PHILADELPHIA Fast starts, a futile finish.

It has been that way throughout this Boston-Philadelphia playoff series, and Game 4 was no exception.

After a red-hot start by Boston, the Celtics could not overcome a foul-plagued game that ended with a disappointing 92-83 loss.

The series is now tied at 2-2, with Game 5 in Boston on Monday, and Game 6 in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala drilled a 3-pointer with 36.9 seconds to play that put the Sixers ahead 88-83, and all but sealed the victory.

Boston immediately called a time-out, well aware that the odds of them pulling out a win at that point were slim, at best.

Out of the time-out, Ray Allen took a rushed 3-pointer that hit nothing but the outstretched arms of a Sixers big man waiting for the air ball to land in his hands.

Jodie Meeks went to the free throw line and made a pair with 32.2 seconds to play, making the game's outcome a mere formality.

Several factors contributed to the C's loss, but none loom as large as the high number of fouls that the C's were whistled for, with official Bill Kennedy making a number of those calls.

For the game, the Celtics were called for 28 personal fouls compared to 19 for the Sixers. That contributed to Philadelphia taking 36 free throw attempts compared to 19 for the C's.

The Sixers fell behind by as many as 18 points, but rallied to tie the game at 63 with more than 10 minutes to play following a driving lay-up by Thaddeus Young.

From there, it became a game that like the first two, was going to come down to which team did a better job of executing in the game's closing minutes.

Boston went up 79-76 following a pair of free throws from Kevin Garnett, only for Iguodala to hit a game-tying 3-pointer.

His basket was soon followed by a jumper from Rajon Rondo which gave the Celtics an 81-79 lead with 2:49 to play.

For most of the night, the Celtics seemed well on their way to a similar blowout akin to their 16-point Game 3 win on Wednesday night.

Boston pushed its lead up to 18 in the third quarter, but foul trouble was starting to become an issue for the C's as the Sixers continued to make a killin' from the free throw line.

After a free throw by Avery Bradley put the Celtics ahead 49-31, Philadelphia countered with an 8-1 spurt with half of their points coming from the free throw line.

Philadelphia's run and Boston's offensive rut seemingly had no end in sight until Paul Pierce snapped an 0-for-the-quarter shooting slump by the Celtics with a 3-pointer that pushed Boston's lead to 54-46 at the 5:05 mark.

The Celtics had missed their previous nine shot attempts in the quarter.

HOT SHOT: Andre Iguodala came up with one big shot after another for the Sixers, with none bigger than the 3-pointer he hit with 36 seconds to play that put the Sixers ahead by five points. He finished with 16 points on 5-for-12 shooting, along with seven rebounds and four assists.

IN-N-OUT: Kevin Garnett was about as big a non-factor as we've seen him all season. He finished with just nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, along with 11 rebounds and a whopping seven turnovers.

SUPER SUB: Thaddeus Young continues to provide the kind of impact off the bench that has given the Celtics major fits throughout this series. He had 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting, along with nine rebounds and three assists.

TURNING POINT: With the Sixers ahead 85-83, Rajon Rondo missed a driving lay-up attempt that was blocked by Young. Moments later, Iguodala hit a 3-pointer that put the C's on their heels and they were never able to bounce back.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We lost our composure. We never returned to playing basketball like we did in the first half." - Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”