Celtics roll in second half, take 3-2 series lead over Sixers

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Celtics roll in second half, take 3-2 series lead over Sixers

BOSTON Because of the earlier than usual 7 p.m. start, the Boston Celtics had a late-arriving crowd at the TD Garden for their Game 5 matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The same could be said for the Celtic players, whose slow start had many in Celtics Nation ready extremely nervous.

But as the game wore on, the crowd grew louder.

And as they continued to make their presence felt, the players did the same.

When all was said and done, the C's pulled away for a 101-85 Game 5 win that gives them a 3-1 series lead. Boston now needs one victory to advance to the Eastern Conference finals to face either Indiana or Miami.

This game, like so many for Boston, certainly had a heavy dose of that Green team defense fans have come to know and love.

And while there were a number of moments in which the Celtics showed signs of life, they ultimately got a spark from about as unlikely a place as you could imagine - the officials.

Trailing 57-53, Kevin Garnett drove into the lane for what he thought was a foul.

It was a foul against him, with official Ed Malloy ruling that Garnett used his arm to shield the defender, Spencer Hawes, from cleanly blocking the shot.

After the play was shown on the Jumbotron, the crowd came to life with a chorus of boos that seemed to be just what the Green team needed to hear.

From there, they reeled off 10 straight points before the Sixers called a time-out.

That was just the beginning, as the Celtics went on to close out the quarter with a 22-9 run that gave them their biggest lead of the night at that time, 75-66.

The key player during that run by Boston was Brandon Bass, who went into the fourth quarter having already scored a playoff career-high 23 points. He finished with 27 points and six rebounds.

Boston's fantastic finish came after the Sixers dominated the first half with some hot shooting and strong rebounding.

Philadelphia connected on 54.8 percent of their shots in the first half compared to 48.6 percent shooting by the Celtics.

Much like the third quarter foul against Garnett provided an unexpected spark, the same could be said for the contributions in the first half made by Greg Stiemsma.

Having been replaced by Ryan Hollins as the first big man off the bench for Boston, C's coach Doc Rivers opted to go back with Stiemsma on Monday.

Good call, Doc.

Stiemsma responded with his best game of the series, scoring eight of his career playoff-high 10 points in the first half which included a driving lay-up just seconds after stepping on to the floor.

It was indeed a bizarre first half that at one point, had Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins having more points scored (10), than Garnett and Bass (8).

The game also saw the Celtics establish themselves as the aggressor, and they were rewarded with a slew of free throw attempts.

In the first half, Boston had 13 free throws taken compared to just two for the Sixers.

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

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Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.