By Spike Eskin
PHILADEPHIA (CBS) – Close, ugly, and unexpected would be the best three words to describe the first two games of the Sixers Eastern Conference Semi-Final series with the Boston Celtics.
To say the first two games of this series have been close, would be an understatement. The teams have each scored 173 total points, and each game was decided by only one point.
To say that the first two games of the series have been ugly, would also be an understatement. The teams have combined to shoot just over 42%, and have turned the ball over 57 times times total.
Lavoy Allen’s crucial play for the Sixers, an illegal screen call on Kevin Garnett, and Evan Turner’s hero turn at the end of an otherwise mediocre performance in game 2, have all been unexpected key parts in deciding the two games.
The foul call on Garnett has been the topic of much discussion, and seems to boil down to this; everyone agrees that Garnett fouled Andre Iguodala. The question for some is whether it’s appropriate to make that call at that point in the game. Michael Levin of the Sixers blog Liberty Ballers explained in pretty clear terms why he thinks it was the right call (read the full article).
It doesn’t matter if it happened with 12 seconds left in the game or 12 seconds into it — that’s a foul. And an easy one to call, at that.
If the official doesn’t make that call, Paul Pierce has a wide open look at the basket. Would NOT blowing the whistle qualify as the officials letting the players decide the game? No. Garnett decided the game when he committed a blatant foul right in front of the ref. He’d been doing it all game, the refs got him on it a couple times (and missed others – a Ray Allen three comes to mind, Jrue was getting tangled in KG’s web), and he knows that’s not legal. A foul is a foul is a foul.
Now, if it was a ticky-tack foul away from the play? Okay. I see your point, Kev. But this directly affects the result. Iguodala got elbowed and hipchecked halfway to midcourt while Pierce had all the room in the world to operate at the top of the key.
Iguodala’s defense on on Paul Pierce has been a crucial part in keeping the two games close. Pierce has shot just 5-20 in the two games. Pierce has totaled 21 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 7 turnovers in the two games, compared to Iguodala’s 32 points (12-27), 12 rebounds, 11 assists and 6 turnovers. It’s also worth noting that Pierce has been slowed by a sprained MCL in his left knee.
The series returns to Philadelphia for game 3 tonight, and predicting the outcome is a difficult task. You can probably count on the ugly part for tonight, but ugly or not, Sixers coach Doug Collins is happy with the results so far. “We’ve played three straight one-point games, and we’ve won two of them. One of them to get home court advantage and another to close out the series, so that’s pretty good,” he said.
Though the Celtics are favored in the series, coach Doc Rivers feels lucky to have the series tied 1-1. “Philly outplayed us in both games,” he told a Boston radio station on Tuesday. “We just won one of them.”
“Now it’s our time to come home. We have home court advantage,” Jrue Holiday said. “We have the fans backing us and our family and friends.” Holiday had a good second game, scoring 18 points on 7-15 shooting, after a pretty forgettable 3-13 effort in game 1.
Tip off tonight at the Wells Fargo Center is at 7pm.
KYW’s Matt Leon spoke to Sixers play by play man Marc Zumoff about the game:
KYW NewsRadio’s Ed Benkin contributed to this report.