Celtics take Game 1 from Sixers, 92-91

Celtics take Game 1 from Sixers, 92-91
May 13, 2012, 2:33 am
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BOSTON You didn't see a lot of the Boston Celtics' brand of basketball in Game 1 of their second-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers.

But the C's, as they have done most of this season, did just enough to come out on top as they rallied for a 92-91 win.

After a pair of free throws by the Sixers brought them within 92-91, the C's threw the ball to Rajon Rondo who simply ran out the game clock as Evan Turner desperately tried to catch him to no avail.

Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 1-0, with Game 2 at the Garden on Monday.

The Celtics spent most of the game playing from behind, but a 15-4 run in the fourth put them ahead 90-84 with 1:18 to play.

A 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala brought the Sixers within 90-87, but a jumper by Rondo pushed Boston's lead back to 92-87.

It was an impressive win for the C's, and quite deflating for a Philadelphia team that controlled the action for most of the night.

Part of that control had to do with the Celtics squandering several opportunities early in the fourth quarter before Rondo drilled an 18-foot jumper to put the C's ahead, 83-82, with 3:37 to play.

Boston did not take their first lead of the game until they opened the third with a 6-0 spurt to lead, 48-47.

The two teams went back and fourth in the third until the Sixers, trailing 53-51, went on a 15-6 run and held off a late surge in the quarter by the C's to lead, 71-67, going into the fourth.

Boston was within striking distance most of the night, but consistently failed to come through with that one shot, that one shot that would have put the Sixers on their heels.

And the worst part about it?

Many of the potential game-changing shots were wide open looks by some of their more reliable shooters such as Ray Allen.

Trailing 80-77 in the fourth, Garnett had the ball underneath the basket with no one around except Spencer Hawes.

After a pivot towards the basket, Garnett lost control of the ball as it went out of bounds off of him.

Before that, Mickael Pietrus had a wide open 3-pointer that hit every part of the rim before deciding to roll out.

It was that kind of shooting night for the Celtics, who had several good looks at the basket all game that did everything but touch the bottom of the net.

And that's exactly what Philadelphia needed to get off to the kind of start that any team opening up on the road, would like to have.

The Sixers delivered the first punch - and it was a doozy - as the Celtics fell behind 7-0. Philadelphia continued to control the game's flow as the C's clanked one shot after another off the rim.

Part of Boston's problem was that they relied far too much on the perimeter game instead of working it inside to Kevin Garnett who was coming off a huge 28-point, 14-rebound performance in Boston's Game 6 win over Atlanta.

The C's went to Garnett at times, but the Sixers would immediately crowd him and Garnett would wisely pass the ball out of the double and at times, triple-team.

Rather than allow Garnett to re-post and feed him the ball again, the C's did just what the Sixers wanted them to do - settle for jumpers.

And on this night, the Celtics' perimeter game was in a word, awful.

Aside from Ray Allen, the C's got very few contributions from their perimeter game which was a major contributor to them shooting just 40 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, the Sixers got solid contributions in the first half from both their starters and their bench which was among the highest-scoring second units in the NBA during the regular season.

Boston fell behind by as many as 13 points in the first half, but a 10-2 run by the C's to end the second quarter brought them within 47-42 at the half.