Celtics - Sixers review: C's encouragement helps Crawford

Celtics - Sixers review: C's encouragement helps Crawford
March 5, 2013, 11:45 pm
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PHILADELPHIA — One man's hesitance is another man's desire to not step on anyone's toes.

Whichever version you want to believe, Boston Celtics guard Jordan Crawford was not himself in the first half of Tuesday's game against Philadelphia.

But his game did a complete turn-around in the second half, especially the fourth quarter, and that change was indeed for the better as the Celtics managed to hold on for a 109-101 win over the Sixers.

Crawford had his best scoring game for the C's, tallying 12 points with 10 coming in the fourth.

According to Rivers, Crawford's strong fourth quarter play stemmed from a halftime spiel from some of Crawford's veteran teammates who were on him to stay aggressive.

"Because he missed a couple shots (in the first half), you could see he didn't want to shoot anymore," Rivers said. "Our guys, they beat me before I had to say it, 'this is what you do. You shoot the ball. They go in, they go out. You gotta keep shooting.'"

Crawford did just that in the fourth as the lone double-digit scorer that quarter.

Boston opened the fourth with a 7-0 run which included five points from Crawford.

His 3-pointer with 8:16 to play gave Boston its biggest lead of the game, 91-76.

But the confidence he showed in taking those shots, Rivers does not necessarily believe would have been taken if not for Crawford's teammates encouraging him to be more assertive with his shot in the second half.

"They're not used to playing with Garnett and Paul Pierce and Jason Terry," Rivers said. "They want to fit in, and we want them to fit in. We want them to do the right thing."

Crawford, acquired by Boston on Feb. 21 from Washington, said his hesitation had more to do with finding his spots than anything else.

"I'm on a new team. I have to learn how to play off people," Crawford said. "I'm a rhythm player, so it's going to take time for me to get loose out there; don't want to step on anyone's toes. That's why it takes an adjustment period. You don't want to step on no one's toes, but you have to continue to be yourself. Day by day, it'll get better."

Crawford's play was among the highlights for the Celtics who are now five games above .500 for the first time this season.

Here are some keys outlined prior to the game, and how they actually played out for the C's.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: It seems Philadelphia's biggest weakness (scoring the ball) this season is exactly what has become the Boston Celtics' greatest strength. The Sixers are next-to-last in the NBA in scoring this season with 92 points per game. The C's are allowing opponents to score 95.9 points per game which ranks ninth in the league.

WHAT WE SAW: Philadelphia got plenty of shots - 100 exactly - and cracked the 100-point barrier, got to the free throw line and stayed relatively close to the C's on the boards. But they failed to come up with a much-needed defensive stop in order to get the victory.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Avery Bradley vs Jrue Holiday: Never an off night for Bradley, Holiday has been the one bright spot for the Sixers this season. His 19.1 points and 8.5 assists per game this season stacks him up quite favorably with the league's top playmakers this season.

WHAT WE SAW: Bradley had one of his better all-around games with a season-high 22 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists. And his defense limited Holiday to 18 points and 10 assists for his 15th double-double this season, although he shot just 6-for-17 from the field.

PLAYER TO WATCH: One of Jeff Green's first breakout performances on the road this season came at Philadelphia in December when he had 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Boston will look for Green to continue his strong play of late which includes double-digit scoring in 13 of the C's last 16 games.

WHAT WE SAW: Green didn't have a dominant night, but he did enough in spurts to finish with a solid performance of 16 points and five assists in addition to four rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK:  While it's not necessarily a major part of their game, Philadelphia's 3-point shooting often dictates how they perform. This season, they are 4-22 when they shoot a lower 3-point percentage than their opponent. Meanwhile, the C's are a solid 18-8 this season when they shoot a higher percentage on 3s than their opponent.

WHAT WE SAW: The Sixers continued their woeful shooting from the perimeter as they misfired on 16 of their 21 3s. Meanwhile, the Celtics were an efficient 11-of-19 (57.9 percent) from 3-point range. "Their three-point shooting was the difference," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "We were minus-18 at the 3-point line."