Here's a stat: 2-11. That's Boston's record in the Big Three era when trying to close out a series on the road. While it seems that both the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are determined to play at least one utterly putrid quarter of basketball in each game this series, the one constant has come in the third quarter. Throughout the series, whichever team has dominated the third period has been victorious. On Wednesday night Philly outscored Boston by 11 points by essentially treating Mikael Pietrus like a human piñata. Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, and Lou Williams all took turns either trapping Pietrus in pick and roll situations or just flat out taking him off the dribble. With Ray Allen in foul trouble and the Boston medical staff trying to keep Avery Bradley's shoulder attached to his body, the Sixers found a pressure point in Boston's perimeter defense and squeezed the sh*t out it.
To suggest that the Celtics can't close out Philly in Boston would be overstating the matter to say the least, yet as Game 7s tend to go, suggesting the Celtics missed a golden opportunity to put things away and get some much needed rest for the Eastern Conference Finals would be an understatement.
Calling Marquis Daniels, calling Marquis Daniels…Help
Yes! That's right I said maybe it's time to for a little Marquis Daniels in the rotation. Whether Pietrus' knee is bothering him, or whether he just is stuck in a slump (to put it mildly), we know Daniels can do at least two things fairly well: he knows the defense, and can play well off the ball. What Boston has missed with Bradley on the offensive side as been his ability to find open space off the ball, helping Boston get easy baskets in the paint and at the rim. While Daniels is passed the point of his career where he's a threat with the ball, he has proved he can find little nooks and crannies in the defense and at least get Boston shots at the rim.
During the regular season of his meager 143 attempted field goals, 107 came at the rim or in the paint. And while he only played in three games in the Atlanta series, all of his stats including his NETrtg increased, which is more than we can say for Mr. Pietrus. Boston only was able to muster 13 points in the paint, and with Pietrus just looking to hoist up three point after three pointer — leading to to long rebounds and the Sixers running in the open court — maybe a minor lineup change is worth experimenting.
Can Jrue Holiday carry the Sixers for one more game?
In case you haven't been watching, Jrue Holiday is slowly beginning to assert himself into the discussion of point guards to keep your eye on. He doesn't have a complete game and doesn't do one particular thing fanatically well, yet he seems to always show up when he's needed the most. In the clutch so far this postseason, his +/- has jumped from -2.3 to +23.7. He’s also getting to the line at a rate almost four times higher during crunch time, and averaging 24.4 points as opposed to his game average of 15.2.
Most importantly, when Iguodala drives or the ball comes his way on the backside swing, he's shooting 75 percent against the Celtics from the corner three. On Wednesday night he was able to put his head down and attack Rondo, causing Boston's defense to make early rotations and exploiting the Celtics’ lack of presence at the rim. Holiday put up very solid numbers in Game 6, and even though 7s are an altogether different animal, would it shock anyone if Holiday put up a random stat line of 26, 7, and 5 and carried Philly to the Eastern Conference Finals? Stranger things have happened.
Fan Hub Action
Marcy Kelly June 12th
Wow! I must have listened to a completely differnt press conference. Oh, wait- you convinently left off all of the good things they just got…
Nathan Devine June 5th
The dude is nasty. The fastball is REAL heavy at 97-100. Steady improvement every year.
Jeanne-Marie Jansen Lowell May 23rd
Greatest relief pitcher EVER! Someday we can all tell our grandchildren we got to see him pitch. A true legend!
Charlie Lobosco May 23rd
Ask Craig; I’ll say it again; not the best relief pitcher ever; the best MLB player ever. Yes, that includes everyone.
Jim Lowell May 23rd
Great tribute to a great player, a great Yankee, and a great man.Thank you!
Frank Lowell May 23rd
Great job, Ryan! As a life-long Yankee hater since the 1950’s in the closing days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I can only sit back and…
Tiffany Riddle May 23rd
Love the article, and I completely agree!
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
June 18th, 2013 3:14 PM
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