The 76ers season is on the line tonight, at home, in front of 20,000 fans and likely Allen Iverson, as they take on the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the series.
First off, another inspirational song, because it worked last time. It’s an elimination game!
Avery Bradley may be out of the game with his multiple shoulder dislocations. Ray Allen will likely play with his shaky ankles. The Sixers are healthy enough to have their whole roster available.
Anyway, looking into Game 6, look for each team to make adjustments based on what happened in games 1-5, like always. In Game 5 specifically, Rajon Rondo killed the Sixers in the pick-and-roll, helping Brandon Bass scored a playoff career high 27 points. The Sixers will probably decide to attack the play differently and consistently, because they will lose if they don’t. Here’s other keys that I’ve pointed out throughout the series.
- The Sixers’ starters versus the Celtics starters. In Game 5 this wasn’t an issue, but in games 2,3, and 4 the starters were essentially destroyed by the Celtics starting five. Quick triggers resulted in early appearances from Lou Williams, Lavoy Allen, and Thaddeus Young to alleviate those problems. If the Sixers get off to a slow start again, look for an early sub.
- Paul Pierce and Andre Iguodala. Andre Iguodala‘s snub from any all-defense team (I’ll post on this soon) hopefully motivates him to turn Paul Pierce into a corpse when he’s guarding him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Iguodala get time defending Rondo, either, which isn’t something we’ve seen yet.
- Kevin Garnett in the post. Lavoy Allen is quick enough to defend Kevin Garnett on the perimeter and strong enough to keep KG from backing him down, but KG made a concerted effort to get early post position in Game 5, which worked out favorably for Boston. Allen has to fight for position as soon as Garnett gets anywhere near the paint. Lavoy also has to stay out of foul trouble, because that’s killed the Sixers. Elton Brand is perfectly defending fine in the post, but his reluctance to contest perimeter jumpers ultimately makes him a bad match up for the Sixers against KG.
- Getting positive contributions from Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner. They’ve been awful all series, especially when on court together. Evan Turner‘s shooting this postseason has been beyond awful, and while his aggressive driving is normally a positive, he hasn’t gotten calls and hasn’t been able to finish over the interior defense of the Celtics. Spencer Hawes has been inconsistent this postseason, having a couple of great performances surrounded by stinkers. He doesn’t need to be fantastic tonight – he just has to hit a couple of shots and be not bad.
- Fast break points. The Sixers have 67 in 5 games, which isn’t enough to make a huge impact. 27 came during Game 4, mostly during the furious second half comeback. If the Celtics get away with their physical (fouling) defense, then the Sixers need every easy point they can get. It’ll be much easier at home.
- Free throws. The Celtics held a major officiating-aided edge in free throw attempts in Game 5, but the Sixers had the advantage throughout the series before then. Of course, making the free throws is also very important, and the Sixers have struggled there, while Boston has been very efficient at the line.
- I don’t want this season to end. Game 6 begins at 8:00 EST. Let’s hope that, at the least, there’s a Game 7.
Tags: Allen Iverson Andre Iguodala Avery Bradley Boston Celtics Brandon Bass Elton Brand Evan Turner Kevin Garnett Lavoy Allen Lou Williams Paul Pierce Rajon Rondo Ray Allen Spencer Hawes Thaddeus Young