This is going to be more of a war than a series. The first battle went to the Celtics tonight. The Sixers blew an opportunity to steal game one on the road, but this is far from a death knell. This was the Sixers setting the tone and showing the Celtics they're in for a fight. This was also 36 minutes for Kevin Garnett, 39 minutes for Paul Pierce and 40 minutes for Rajon Rondo, to hold serve. As the road team, you want to split the first two games. It's just going to have to happen in game two. (game capsule)
Here's your rotation chart. Note the ends of the quarters, and the horrid performance of a couple of questionable lineups Collins threw out there:
First things first: Elton Brand, where the hell are you? This disappearing act cannot continue. The interior defense is much appreciated, but you have to do more. Unfortunately, Brand wasn't the only guy who played horribly tonight. Jrue's jumper was as off as I've ever seen it, had he hit half of the wide-open looks he got, this game isn't even close late.
The blame certainly doesn't stop with those two, but I think they're two guys this team relies on for heavy minutes and production, and it just wasn't there tonight. For me, this loss came down to Doc Rivers doing a better job with in-game adjustments than Doug Collins. Even Turner killed the Celtics in the first half, he was a non-factor after the break. Whether that was the fault of Turner, Collins or the adjustment Rivers made to put Avery Bradley on him is anyone's guess, but Rivers made a change and achieved the desired result. Collins didn't have a counter.
On the floor, the game was probably decided during Lou Williams' meltdown in the fourth quarter. I'm not going to crucify Collins for bringing Lou in at that point, the offense was sputtering and Jrue just wasn't getting the job done. As for Lou, well, these two series have been extremely discouraging. Of all the players on the Sixers, Lou seems to be the one guy who doesn't realize this isn't the regular season anymore. For some reason, he seems to think he's going to get those same touch fouls called in the playoffs. He seems to think defenders aren't going to challenge his shots on the break. He's playing way too slow, consistently eschewing potential transition opportunities to walk the ball up, and he's playing way too soft. On the defensive end, well, lazy doesn't begin to describe it. Lou needs a wake-up call, because the team needs production from him.
So they had a chance to grab home-court advantage in game one. They didn't. They have another chance less than 48 hours from now. I don't want to hear anything about how you can't lose game one like that, because the fact of the matter is you can. Losing game one on the road is what's supposed to happen. It's water under the bridge, the only thing that matters now is game two. Get that one and you go swing the series.
Player of The Game: First half it would've been Turner, hands down. If you're looking at the game as a whole, Iguodala probably had the biggest impact on both ends, but I'm going with Hawes. He had some absolutely huge hoops in the second half and challenged a bunch of shots at the rim. Had they won, it would've been because of his effort. Also, don't forget Lavoy. Huge contribution from those two guys tonight, almost enough to make up for the vacuum created by Thad and Brand doing nothing.
Next Game:, Monday night, at Boston.