Sixers win 82-81, tie series

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Sixers win 82-81, tie series

BOSTON The Boston Celtics' "small ball" lineup once again came up huge in the fourth quarter.

Philadelphia refused to let another strong performance go to waste as they held on for an 82-81 game 2 victory. The series is now tied at 1-1, with games 3 and 4 in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

The C's got a slew of big shots down the stretch, but the Sixers were able to match or surpass those buckets with their own big plays.

Ray Allen had a chance to put the C's ahead with less than a minute to play, but his step-back jumper rimmed in and out as the Sixers grabbed yet another rebound.

Allen and Kevin Garnett hit a couple of 3's in the game's final seconds, but it was too little too late as the C's now must win at least one game in Philadelphia to move on to the Eastern Conference finals.

There were a slew of turning point moments, with none looming as large as the blocking call by official Michael Smith on Kevin Garnett with 10 seconds to play and the Celtics trailing, 78-75.

For most of the game, the Celtics needed someone, anyone, to breath some life into a team that seemed to be in what C's coach Doc Rivers calls "Cool Celtics" mode.

Boston got that much needed lift from Mickael Pietrus, who was more than overdue for a big game shooting the ball.

After missing two of his first three shots, he finally got a 3-pointer to go down that cut Philadelphia's lead down to three points.

Moments later, he drilled a second 3-pointer to cut the Sixers lead down to just two points.

For several possessions, the C's just couldn't get that one big shot they needed to take control of the game from Philadelphia.

After a dunk by Avery Bradley (he missed the entire third quarter when he re-aggravated his left shoulder), a slew of empty possessions for the Celtics were came between a pair of free throws by Thaddeus Young and a tightly contested 17-foot, step-back jumper by Andre Iguodala that put Philly ahead, 65-61.

Boston cut the deficit in half with a jumper by Garnett, and tied the game at 65 on a tough 3-foot turn-around from Garentt with 4:33 to play.

After seemingly coasting through the first half, the wheels began to fall off for the Celtics in the third quarter as Philadelphia went on a 10-2 run to take their largest of the game at that point, 51-47, with 2:37 to play in the third.

The Sixers weren't done.

They reeled off six more points to take their first double-digit lead of the game, 57-47. Pierce cut the deficit down to eight following a pair of free throws with 2.4 seconds in the third which ended with the C's behind 57-49.

The beginning of the game was a 180-degree turn for the Celtics compared to how they began Game 1, as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead on Monday that put the Sixers on their heels quickly.

Philadelphia fought back, and even took the lead in the second quarter on two separate occasions (29-27 and 36-35).

However, the C's got a rare 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play in the half which ended with the Celtics on top, 38-36.

Boston's Brandon Bass, who has had his struggles throughout the playoffs shooting the ball, came out and made his first three shots - all jumpers.

From there, it only got worse as he went the rest of the half without a made field goal despite taking nine more shots for a 3-for-12 shooting line at the half.

For too many stretches in the first half, the Sixers took a lot of Josh Smith-like shots (bad shots, early in the shot clock) that contributed to them spending most of the first half trailing.

The one Philly player who seemed to be in a good flow shooting the ball for most of the first half was point guard Jrue Holiday who is in the score-first mold of today's playmakers.

He had 13 points at the half on 5-for-9 shooting along with three assists and just one turnover.

Rajon Rondo usually saves his best for the second half, but he too had a decent first half with four points, eight assists and three rebounds.

Boston started the third without Avery Bradley, who re-aggravated a sore left rotator cuff injury. Replacing him with the first group was Ray Allen, the may that Bradley replaced in the starting lineup.

The C's forced four turnovers in less than three minutes, but they had little to show for it with their lead increasing to no more than five points (43-38).

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

BOSTON – It appears there may be an answer to the mystery surrounding Josh Jackson’s decision to not work out for the Boston Celtics leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft.

While conventional wisdom tells us that such decisions are often made by the agent who in this case is former NBA player B.J. Armstrong.

Boston instead selected Jayson Tatum at No. 3 with the Phoenix Suns scooping up Jackson with the No. 4 pick.

MORE: Danny Ainge on Josh Jackson: 'He didn’t want to play for the Celtics'

During Jackson’s introductory press conference, there was a sense that it wasn’t necessarily Armstrong who strong-armed Jackson into not working out for the Celtics. But apparently, he got an assist from Suns General Manager (and ex-Celtics assistant GM) Ryan McDonough.

A reporter asked McDonough if Phoenix may have encouraged Jackson to cancel his workout with the Celtics who were flying into Sacramento, Calif. to watch Jackson workout only for it to be canceled after they had departed which as you can imagine, did not go over well with Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations.

“I’d like to consult my attorney B.J. Armstrong (Jackson’s agent),” McDonough said, smiling.

The more McDonough talked, the clearer it became that he and Armstrong were in cahoots to do all they could to get Boston to pass on Jackson at No. 3 which as McDonough mentioned, doesn’t break any rules.

“You guys all know my history with the Celtics and the respect I have for Danny Ainge and the organization,” McDonough told reporters on Friday. “But I think you guys who know me well know how competitive I am. Look, it is a competition. The Celtics were ahead of us at No. 3 and they could have selected whoever they wanted to. I think they got a very good player in Jayson Tatum, but that doesn’t mean B.J. and I and … other members of my staff couldn’t talk and try to formulate the best plan to get a player we were really high on to a place we felt he really wanted to go and would be a great fit for him.”

McDonough is right in that no rules were broken if he and Armstrong did decide to work together in an effort to get Jackson to Phoenix.

But to cancel the workout after the Celtics executives and head coach Brad Stevens had left, forcing them to spend a night on the road for a workout that Jackson’s camp probably knew wasn’t going to happen well before the Celtics contingent boarded for Sacramento … not cool.

Here are words I thought I would never say … the Ball clan got it right.

They told Boston from the jump that Lonzo Ball wasn’t going to work out for them, so the Celtics knew he didn’t want to be a Celtic from the very beginning.

Jackson’s actions said the same, but his words kept hope alive that he would work out or at the very least, talk to the Celtics organization – neither of which happened.

He kept referring to the fact that he didn’t think Boston was interested in him when they had the number one pick (that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if they asked him to work out for them; otherwise, what’s the point from the Celtics'  perspective of asking to work out a guy they had no interest in drafting?)

After they traded down to the number 3 pick, a deal that was cemented last weekend, Jackson said there wasn’t time to do a workout for Boston.

The draft was nearly a week away and he didn’t have time to work out for a team that had the third pick overall knowing that the top two picks (Markelle Fultz at No. 1 and Lonzo Ball at No. 2) were essentially accounted for?

“If I could have, I probably would have worked out for them,” Jackson said (with a straight face). “But I think everything worked out for the best.”

Yup.

Boston will once again be among the better teams in the East and will contend for the best record like they achieved this past season before their season ended in the Conference finals to Cleveland. 

Jackson will spend his rookie season playing a lot of minutes with a Suns team that probably won’t win as many games as he did a year ago at Kansas (33).

Enjoy.

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

As rumors swirl in this post-draft, pre-free agency week for the NBA, Adam Kaufman of 98.5 The Sports Hub reported Friday that the Celtics could land long-rumored target Gordon Hayward AND trade for Paul George. And Kaufman says George would be more than just a one-year rental.

Kaufman elaborated on a possible George deal on his "Celtics @ 7" show Saturday. He said the trade with the Indiana Pacers wouldn't cost Boston next year's Brooklyn pick, rather it would be the first-round pick (Lakers 2018 or Kings 2010) acquired this week from the Philadelphia 76ers when Boston traded down the No. 1 for No. 3, along with Jae Crowder and another salary filler. 

MORE CELTICS: 

Before you run out and buy that No. 13 Celtics Paul George jersey, Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com explains how financially disadvantageous it would be for George - long thought to want to head to the Lakers - to do this.