Sixers vs. Celtics Game 7: Keys to the Game

Andre Iguodala records this and one slam on Paul Pierce in Game 6.

The Philadelphia 76ers were able to successfully hold off elimination on Wednesday night. They were able to defeat the Celtics 82-75 to force a Game 7 in a series that has gone back and forth constantly. No team has been able to put together consecutive wins and that is what the 76ers will have to do to move on and face the Miami Heat. The Eastern Conference Finals awaits the winner of tomorrow night’s game.

Tomorrow night could be the final game for the Celtics’ Big 3 of Garnett, Pierce and Allen.

For the Celtics, moving on would symbolize a ray of hope for a team to have one more chance to win it all, knowing they will inevitably be split up in the off season. For the Sixers, moving on symbolizes growth and will be another opportunity for Doug Collins to teach his team valuable lessons. It would also be a chance for the Sixers to get a shot at the Heat, who knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round last season.

Both teams have displayed their strengths in victories and their weaknesses in defeat. Tomorrow night will come down to which team brings their A game. If they both do, there will be certain keys to victory for both sides.

Sixers

Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday will look to lead the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Philadelphia 76ers have been the comeback kids in this series. They have responded well to every punch the Celtics have thrown. The Sixers let Game 1 slip away despite a double-digit fourth quarter lead. They responded by taking Game 2 in Boston. The Celtics then came into the Wells Fargo Center and embarrassed the Sixers on their home floor. The Sixers responded in Game 4 by erasing an 18-point deficit in route to a win. Game 5 in Boston went to the Celtics who appeared to wear the Sixers down. The Sixers came back in Game 6 in front of a raucous crowd and a former Sixers great, Allen Iverson (Video Courtesy of myself from Game 6). Now here they are, playing in a Game 7 that they were never suppose to reach. Here are their keys to victory:

1. Act like you’ve been there (even though you haven’t): The Sixers cannot fold under the pressure of a Game 7. So far they have faced some pressure throughout the playoffs but for the most part they have been playing with house money. Now they have Boston with their backs against the wall and the worst thing that could happen would be to lose because you couldn’t handle the atmosphere.

It is going to be loud and crazy at The Garden and the Sixers have to exhibit poise and be able to rise to the occasion and silence the crowd. It has been pointed out quite a bit that the Sixers have little Game 7 experience. Of the regulars, Elton Brand made a Game 7 with the Clippers. The funny thing is, that may be a good thing. Doug Collins alluded to the fact, after Game 6, that his team is somewhat naive and thus doesn’t quite realize how nervous they should be. They have to kept that mindset going and not let Boston’s experience be a factor.

Evan Turner is beginning to emerge into a key player for the Sixers this postseason.

2. Defend, Defend, DEFEND: This is a simple and purely statistical observation when you look at this series. When the Sixers lose, they have given up an average of 100 points to the Celtics. When the Sixers win, they have given up an average of 79.6 points per game. The Sixers must rely on their defense to win Game 7. The most points they have scored in a game this series is 92.

The defense is the strength of this team hands down and its the reason they have made it this far. Andre Iguodala must continue to chase Paul Pierce around and has to make each shot difficult. Jrue Holiday has to continue to contain Ray Allen and Evan Turner must duplicate the performance he had against Rajon Rondo in Game 6. It must be a group effort to contain Kevin Garnett and the Sixers can’t let role players like Brandon Bass score a crooked number.

3. Don’t listen to national media; Just play: ESPN, TNT, and virtually the entire world has anointed the Boston Celtics the winner of this series. Charles Barkley said, during halftime of Game 1, that the Sixers had no chance to win this series despite being up at the time. ESPN has already begun breaking down what the Heat have to do to beat Boston.

The Sixers have to put all that aside and understand that they are playing in Game 7 because they deserve to be. They must also understand that if they win, no one is going to give them credit. They will attribute it to Boston losing as opposed to the Sixers winning so just play.

Boston

 

Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass have been a formidable duo down low for Boston.

1. Move the ball around: It has literally looked like the Celtics have had two different offenses in this series. When they move the ball around, they have been great. However, they have gotten into lulls where they stop passing and try to let Pierce or Rondo take guys off the dribble or simply hoist jump shots. The Sixers defense is too good for that. The Celtics have to pass the ball and get the Sixers to make defensive mistakes.

2. Ride the crowd: The Celtics have the advantage of playing at home in this Game 7 and that can be huge. If they create even the slightest run, the crowd will get behind them and can propel them to even more by discouraging this young Sixers team. The Celtics have to get the crowd in the game by keeping the pace uptempo.

 

Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce have been key for the Celtics offense in this series.

3. Draw on experience: Just because the Big 4 will probably not be in green next season, it doesn’t mean you cannot get everything you can out of them now. They have been through several Game 7’s together so it is clear the moment will not be too big for them. Take advantage of that fact and make sure that every player in that locker room is on the same page.

Sixers/Celtics Key: Win the 3rd quarter: The winner of the third quarter has won each game. I fully expect that trend to continue.

Enjoy Game 7 tomorrow night at 8 on ABC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: