Celtics-Sixers Game 2 review: Sixers growing up

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Celtics-Sixers Game 2 review: Sixers growing up

BOSTON The Boston Celtics had another solid showing in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough as Philadelphia evened up their best-of-seven series with the C's at 1-1 following an 82-81 win. The Celtics outscored the Sixers by seven points in the fourth, but the C's usually stingy defense gave up a very un-Celtic like 25 points.

Beating the Celtics in a game that came down to the wire not only helps Philadelphia in terms of the series, but provides a nice jolt of confidence as they head home for Games 3 and 4.

"I think we're growing; we have a young team," said Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday. "We like playing against Boston. We think we match up well against them and even though they had a smart play at the end of Game 1, ya know we still had a chance in that game so that's definitely a confidence booster."

Philadelphia's ability to withstand the Celtics' fourth quarter defensive crush was a major factor in the game's outcome. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Paul Pierce can't move about as well as he would like to, courtesy of a sprained MCL in his left knee. However, he is finding other ways to make an impact for the Celtics. In Game 1, he missed eight of his 11 shots but still grabbed six rebounds and had six assists in addition to blocking two shots.
WHAT WE SAW: Pierce was about as ineffective as we've seen him in a playoff game, scoring just seven points on 2-for-9 shooting from the field. "Paul clearly is not 100 percent," said C's coach Doc Rivers. Even though Pierce wasn't moving nearly as well as he's used to and struggled to control the ball when he did penetrate into the lane - he had a team-high five turnovers - he wasn't about to use his knee as an explanation for his poor performance. "The knee was fine," he said, adding that he wore a knee brace during the game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Elton Brand: Both of these are more than overdue for a breakout game for their respective teams. Bass has been more hesitant lately to shoot, often a sign of a player whose confidence isn't quite where it was earlier. As for Brand, he's a victim of the Celtics' small ball lineup cutting his minutes, and emergence of rookie Lavoy Allen (12 points on 5-for-7 shooting in Game 1) and the solid play of Spencer Hawes (15 points, eight rebounds) around the basket. "EB (Brand) was struggling a little bit, and Lavoy was playing great (in Game 1)," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "I think the guys know that at this point in time, I have to go with the guys that are playing well." In Game 1, Brand had four ponts and one rebound in 15 minutes.

WHAT WE SAW: It looked as though Bass would dominate this matchup from the outset, as he knocked down his first three shots while Brand only made three shots (in five attempts) the entire game. However, things soon went south for Bass and the Celtics, as he went on to miss 10 of his next 12 shots and finished with 12 ponts on 5-for-15 shooting. As for Brand, he only had seven points, but he was among the Sixers defenders who helped limit Kevin Garnett to 15 points - almost half of what he had averaged in Boston's two previous games.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ray Allen did more for the Celtics in Game 1 than his 12 points might have indicated. His mere presence opened things up for Garnett around the basket, along with creating better driving lanes for Rajon Rondo (13 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds). The Celtics were a plus-17 with Allen on the floor, far and away the best plusminus ratio of the 19 players for both teams to see action.

WHAT WE SAW: Allen was once again coming up with some big shots, but he wasn't able to deliver the dagger-like basket that the C's have grown so used to him providing. He finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting.

STAT TO TRACK: Despite out-rebounding Philadelphia 45-41 in Game 1, the Sixers still had a decisive edge (15-6) in second-chance points. The Sixers ranked 23rd in second-chance points during the regular season, and are 10th (among 16 teams) in the playoffs. For the C's, Game 1 was indicative of their inability all season to capitalize on multiple-shot opportunities. The Celtics were dead-last (out of 30 teams) with 9.9 second-chance points per game, during the regular season. They haven't been much better in the playoffs, averaging just 8.7 second-chance points per game which ranks 14th (out of 16 teams).

WHAT WE SAW: Philadelphia controlled the boards most of the night and finished with a 47-36 advantage. The rebounds achieved a couple of things. First, it kept the Celtics from getting out and attempting to score in transition, evident by the Celtics having just six fast-break points. And the offensive rebounds - Philly had 11 of them - didn't necessarily generate much offense. But just as important, it meant the C's had to play defense for a longer stretch of time and that, over time, had to wear down those seasoned bones.

Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp

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Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp

WALTHAM, Mass. – Gerald Green’s hip flexor injury isn’t anything he or the Celtics are overly concerned about.

They know Green as well as any player on this roster, so him missing a couple days will have no effect on his status in their eyes.

But in shutting him down for a couple days, his absence affords a number of players an opportunity to stand up in what is an absolutely pivotal, potentially career-altering season.

James Young is in his third training camp with the Celtics and no one has a real feel for where he fits into the pantheon of NBA players.

He hasn’t played enough to call him a bust, but hasn’t done enough to feel as though he has a bright future in this league either.

And then there’s R.J. Hunter, who came into the NBA with the reputation of being a spot-on shooter.

As a rookie last season, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard struggled knocking down shots when he got playing which for most of the season, was limited.

So, what does that have to do with Green’s injury?

His absence means those two players will get more reps on the floor, providing each with potentially more chances to impress the coaching staff.

It means Young will get a few more shots at showing the added strength, weight and improved skills will enhance his chances to not just make the 15-man roster but also compete for potential minutes.

As for Hunter, he has to make shots.

It’s that simple.

While he showed potential as a rookie to do a number of things on the floor, the easiest way for him to solidify a spot on the roster is to do what he does best which is make baskets.

At the end of the day, one of these guys will not be in a Celtics uniform this season. Between now and then, every opportunity they get to impress the coaches has to be taken advantage of which is exactly what they each will get courtesy of Green’s short-term injury.

 

 

Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation

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Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation

WALTHAM, Mass. – Summer league was in full bloom and Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier was killin’ it.
 
Scoring.
 
Dropping dimes.
 
Swooping in for rebounds.
 
Young fella was having the kind of summer that breeds confidence for him as well as the franchise that shocked many in selecting him as high as they did in 2015.  
 
But as well as he played, he knew getting on the floor wasn’t going to be easy because he would have to cut into the minutes of already-established players.
 
And then he got the news that Evan Turner was leaving for Portland after agreeing to a four-year, $70 million contract.
 
Turner’s departure meant Rozier’s chances of playing regular minutes had indeed arrived.

“Nobody wants to lose a guy like ET; great looker room guy, great down the stretch,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “But that gave me even more of an opportunity to play and step up. It gave me a better feeling about this year, knowing I could get minutes.”

On Monday during media day, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked about the void on the Celtic’s roster with Turner now playing for the Blazers.
 
“I miss Evan Turner already; loved having him around,” Ainge said. He’s not going to be easy to replace and neither will Jared Sullinger (he signed a one-year deal with Toronto). But we do have some exciting young players. Jaylen (Brown) and Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier … very exciting players. I don’t know who will get all of Evan’s minutes, but they will be shared and we can fill that void.”

But Turner’s 28.0 minutes per game will likely serve as a portion of the minutes Rozier will carve out for his own this season.
 
“I know he’s going to try and take some of my minutes,” said Celtics all-star guard Isaiah Thomas earlier this summer. “But that’s what it’s about; competing.”
 
Rozier’s competitive nature has stood out during his short time in Boston, with the 22-year-old finding a way to balance that with not being too pushy or too hungry to play.
 
“He’s an All-Star,” Rozier said of Thomas. “I look at it like this. To go up against someone like (Thomas) every day is a blessing.”
 
But Rozier soon adds, “I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too. Getting his minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
 
And as he gradually establishes a role for himself on this team, maybe then people will warm up to a player that so many had doubts about when the Celtics selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
 
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was; that’s fine. They’ll find out about me soon enough.”