Celtics-Sixers Game 6 review: What we saw . . .

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Celtics-Sixers Game 6 review: What we saw . . .

PHILADELPHIA The Boston Celtics are now in a winner-takes-all situation following their 82-75 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the game, the Sixers had stretches of solid play in all four quarters, but as has been the case in the previous five games, it was the third quarter that ultimately proved to be a game-changer.
Philadelphia won the third quarter, 27-20, and with it, control of the game that they refused to relinquish.
"Third quarter has been a decisive quarter in every game of this round," said Sixers coach Doug Collins.
So as the Celtics gear up for a decisive Game Seven on Saturday, they will surely look to put together a strong 48 minutes of basketball.
But short of that, the Celtics might want to make sure they're on top of their game to start the second half.
Because in a series in which both teams have shown stretches of dominance swirled in with defensive letdowns and offensive droughts, coming out on top in the third quarter has been the only indicator as to who will ultimately win the game and at this point, the series.
Here are some other keys highlighted prior to tonight's game, and how they played out as the Celtics once again failed to deliver the close-out win on the road.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:If Avery Bradley (shoulder) has to miss a second straight game, Ray Allen is expected to get the starting nod once again. One of the reasons the C's put Bradley in the starting lineup ahead of Allen, was because of the defensive presence Bradley brought to the floor.
"Hes an extraordinary defensive player," Allen said of Bradley. "Any time you have a player down you never take on that persons role; you just try to go out and do your job."
WHAT WE SAW: Allen was in the starting lineup - and will likely stay there with Bradley's return unlikely. The C's sharpshooter struggled at both ends of the floor and finished with nine points on 4-for-11 shooting. Making Allen's rough night even worst was that for the first time in this series, they didn't defend him nearly as tight as they did in the first five games.
"They allowed Ray to get loose and he just didn't make shots," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Elton Brand: Both players had breakout performances in Game Five, with Bass scoring a playoff-career high 27 points while Brand led the Sixers with 19. The scary part for Philadelphia has to be that many of the shots that Bass made, were shots that he has had throughout this series. If he's knocking those shots down now, it has the potential to open up more scoring opportunities for the rest of his teammates.
"We got a few good players on the team that theyve gotta focus on," Bass said. After the way he ripped the Sixers defense apart in Game 5, Philadelphia might want to add him to that list.
WHAT WE SAW: One of these two players is a former all-star. If you didn't know which one before, you do now as Brand dominated this matchup from beginning to end. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, compared to Bass who had 8 points on 2-for-12 shooting.
"Elton Brand, he was our Ace of Spades tonight," Said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "Just the heart of a lion. What he does for us is amazing."
PLAYER TO WATCH: Once again, it's Kevin Garnett. He's always going to draw the attention of defenses. But after alluding to the Sixers supporters as fair-weather fans, the chorus of boos for him are sure to be amped up even more so and Garnett is going to love it. He is a guy that's always searching for added incentive, added motivation to elevate his game. A room full of folks booing his every move? That'll do it.
WHAT WE SAW: The numbers don't tell the full story. Garnett finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but he didn't have nearly as big an impact on the game as he has used to having.
"We never really established Kevin Garnett," Rivers said. "Even though Kevin had points, it wasn't the points we needed, the type of points. So we have to do a better job there."

STAT TO TRACK: Jrue Holiday is more of a scoring point guard than his Celtics equivalent Rajon Rondo. But his ability to limit his turnovers has played a vital role in the game's outcome. When he has kept his mistakes to a minimum, the Sixers have had success. But when he has struggled with turnovers, the Celtics have emerged victorious. In the two Philadelphia wins, Holiday has averaged just one turnover committed. In the three losses, that figure more than doubles to 2.67 turnovers per game.WHAT WE SAW: Holiday had a couple turnovers, but his play was among the many keys to Philadelphia keeping their season alive with a Game 6 win. He had a team-high 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting to go with six assists and two steals.
"I was very, very proud of Jrue Holiday tonight," Collins said. "He stayed in attack mode. He knows he needs to score for us. He did a great job of that."

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.