Cold Celtics flop in Philly, now forced to play Game 7

Cold Celtics flop in Philly, now forced to play Game 7
May 24, 2012, 2:57 am
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PHILADELPHIA The Boston Celtics have been making life harder for themselves all season, so why stop now?

Boston now finds itself in a one-game, winner-moves-on situation after dropping Game 6 of their second-round playoff series to the Philadelphia, 82-75.

The series is now tied at 3-3, with Game Seven in Boston on Saturday night.

Turnovers. Poor shooting. Shoddy defense.

They all played a major role in Boston losing a game that they so desperately needed to win.

Not only to advance to the next round, but also to give those experienced, seasoned bones of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce a couple days of rest.

Instead of rest, the C's must now get ready for a Game 7 matchup that's sure to be daunting.

The Celtics are a banged-up team right now, with the injuries and usual bumps and bruises only getting worse with each passing game.

Avery Bradley missed his second straight game because of shoulder pain, and doesn't sound optimistic that he'll be back anytime soon. And his replacement, Ray Allen, was about as bad as we've seen Ray Allen ever.

He had his struggles defensively, which has been a problem throughout this series in part because of his ankles. But it's his offense the C's desperately miss. He rarely got free for shots, and the shots that he had that were open or lightly contested, he missed most of them.

But this loss couldn't be pinned on just one player.

Just as it is when they win, it takes a collective effort - or in this case, lack of it - to deliver such a dud of a performance in a game that had so much riding on it. But the Celtics at least can take solace in the fact that the last game in this series will be on their floor, with their fans.

That'll certainly help.

However, fan support won't do the C's much good if they don't clean up the problems that surfaced on Wednesday.

As marvelous as Rajon Rondo has been, there was never a sustained stretch of play where he took over - something he has been able to do in just about every game prior to Game 6.

And Kevin Garnett, who called the Sixers supporters "fair weather" fans, was not nearly as good as his final line - 20 points and 11 rebounds - might indicate.

So much of what the C's did in this game made little sense.

Trailing 74-65 with 3:49 to play, the Celtics came out of a time-out and Rajon Rondo took an 18-footer - and missed.

Trailing 78-72, the Celtics got the stop they needed, but Rondo lost the ball out of bounds.

Philadelphia didn't score, but they were able to milk more time off the clock which at that point, was working against the Celtics as they eventually got a time-out with 48.1 seconds to play and trailing by six points.

The C's got a great play out of time-out, a wide open 3-pointer for Ray Allen.

But that shot, like most for Allen (he was 4-for-12 shooting) was off the mark.

Boston was forced to foul Andre Igoudala, who made both free throws to put the Sixers ahead 80-72, with 38.7 seconds to play.

A quick 3-pointer by Pierce made it a five-point game, and the C's were once again forced to foul.

Jrue Holiday went to the line with 31.4 seconds to play, sinking both shots to for the game's final points.

Prior to those four free throws being made, the Sixers spent most of the game bricking one free throw after another.

For them to start knocking them down in the fourth quarter was symbolic of the kind of night it was for the Celtics when seemingly nothing went their way when it needed to.

And the end result was a loss in which the C's were out-worked, out-hustled and ultimately, out-played by a scrappy Philadelphia team that has every reason to believe that they can come into the TD Garden on Saturday and do what few outside of Philadelphia believed - take down the Celtics and move on to the Eastern Conference finals.