As the Philadelphia 76ers ponder how to avoid elimination at home in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics, they will have to begrudgingly acknowledge the fact that Brandon Bass – the Celtics fifth-best option – simply cannot be ignored. Bass went off for a career playoff-high 27 points in Game 5, including 18 third-quarter points that outscored the entire 76ers team by 2 points.
The question is, if the 76ers are unable to play help defense because of Bass’ ability to hit the open jumper, can they individually contain the likes of Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce? The answer is an easy no, based on what that trio has done to them in this series.
The best counterattack may be to do some scoring of their own, but the team has scored better than 92 points just once in 11 playoff games so far.
We’ll find out what the game plan is for the 76ers on Wednesday night and learn whether the series will conclude or extend to a Game 7.
They will have to do so without prized defender Avery Bradley, who will remain out due to a troublesome shoulder that keeps popping out of place.
Rajon Rondo – named to the All-Defensive Second Team today along with teammate Garnett – handed out another 14 assists and is averaging a remarkable 14.6 assists in the series.
The team has opted for rest rather than practice due to injuries plaguing a number of players.
From Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “In the case of practice, less isn’t necessarily more, but Doc Rivers has often made the choice for off day inactivity this season. In this sardine can of a season, veteran teams generally find that fresh bodies are preferable to freshly tutored ones. “We (didn’t) have the luxury to practice (yesterday),” Rivers said after the Celtics’ Game 5 win over Philadelphia on Monday night. “We couldn’t if we wanted to. So it’s just what we’ve gone through. The good thing for this group, honestly, (is that) we’ve done this all year. We’ve kind of been a makeshift group all year. And so it’s not a distraction, I will tell you that. Our guys, they’re very professional about it. We’ll go to shootaround and work on some stuff, and then go play a game.”… If they were a young team, Rivers would be forced to go against his inclinations as a players’ coach and beef up the off day schedule. But the Celtics are also a team held together by tape. Ray Allen (right ankle bone spurs), Paul Pierce (sprained MCL), Bradley (chronic shoulder instability and pain), Mickael Pietrus (knee) and Greg Stiemsma (bad feet), to name the most afflicted, have learned to maintain rhythm with games and shootarounds. And it probably wouldn’t work with a young team.”
They also failed to match the aggression of the Celtics, losing the advantage in free throw attempts 33-16.
The Sixers may simply have to play more of a carefree style to keep up with the offense of Boston.
From Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Daily News: “It couldn’t last. Not for the Sixers. The beauty of the game played by both teams Monday lay in the abandon with which each passed and caught and shot the basketball. The Sixers lost the game when they lost their abandon. The season will be lost Wednesday night if they don’t find that freedom again. The Celtics won Game 5 because they were refreshed, yes, but also because they were confident in their capabilities. Similarly, the Sixers controlled the first portion of the contest because they played without a thought of failure. And then, they started thinking too much. Wednesday night, playing with house money, the Sixers should roll. It is equally encouraging and damning that former scoring threat Lou Williams acknowledged how the Sixers erased an 18-point deficit in the second half of Game 4: “When you’re down [by 18], the basket gets bigger because there’s not really a lot of pressure on that next shot. Everybody just played like that.” Encouraging, because it showed how well the Sixers can play. Damning, because it illustrated why they have not yet played that well in the series for a full game.”
James Park is a regular contributor to Sheridanhoops.com. You can find him on twitter @nbatupark.