Notebook: Celtics find themselves out-muscled

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Notebook: Celtics find themselves out-muscled

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

PHILADELPHIA For years, the Boston Celtics have usually been at their best when officials allow games to played with a high level of physicality.

Well, that's usually how it works.

But on Friday, the C's dropped their second straight, an 89-86 loss at Philadelphia.

There were several reasons for the loss, but one of the biggest had to be that the Sixers were the more physical team.

"I thought the game was called very physical," Rivers said. "They allowed you to be physical. I didn't think we handled it very well. I didn't think we played through contact very well at all tonight. I thought they were the more physical team."

And as Rivers knows, the more physical team usually emerges victorious when all is said and done.

"I knew they were the more athletic team," Rivers said. "But they can't be the more physical team as well."

Rivers explains late-game decision.

Leading by just three points, the Sixers called for an isolation play that involved Andre Iguodala who at the time was being guarded by Sasha Pavlovic.

Iguodala drove into the lane and scooped in a shot past Pavlovic to secure the victory.

The fact that Iguodala was in an iso-situation wasn't that surprising.

Being defended by Sasha Pavlovic, now that was unexpected.

C's coach Doc Rivers would have probably used Paul Pierce in that situation, but Pierce was saddled with five personal fouls.

"Paul had the fouls. We didn't want to risk that," Rivers said. "The only thing we said out of time-out, is he has to beat you with his left. We allowed him to get to his right hand. He made a tough shot. But going right, he can make that shot. Going left I'll take my chances."

Playoff preview?

The Sixers have lost two of three this season to the Celtics, but all three games have been relatively close.

In their first two meetings - both won by Boston - the victories were by a total of just five points.

With all three games being decided in the final minutes, there's a school of thought out there that nobody wants to see the Sixers in the playoffs.

"Eveybody wants to run into everybody in the playoffs, really," Rivers said. "Hear that all the time. It's usually the ninth team. Nobody wants to play us. Actually, they really did. They didn't want to play the eighth team. I don't think anybody cares who they play, I know we don't. I can tell you that. At the end of the day, we just have to play."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.