|Ryan Hollins played some key minutes in the first-round clincher Thursday night. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)|
Together, they’re a handful
Garnett is wary of Sixers’ depth
WALTHAM - The Philadelphia 76ers have Kevin Garnett’s attention.
“They don’t have one or two guys, they have five or seven guys average double figures,’’ said Garnett, whose 28-point output in the Celtics’ 83-80 Game 6 win over Atlanta Thursday night was his highest total since last year’s playoffs against Miami. “Night in and night out they play very, very hard and they play together. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.’’
During the playoffs and regular season, three Sixers (Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, and Andre Iguodala) have averaged double figures in points. Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young averaged double digits during the regular season and Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner are scoring in double figures during the playoffs.
“They play with a lot of energy. They play together,’’ Garnett said. “[Coach Doug Collins] has those guys believing. They’re not talking a lot. They’re coming out, showing up to play. Like I said, they’re a young team and they’re playing with a lot of confidence - confidence is one of the things you need in this league and they have a lot of it.
“I don’t think they’re known for their offense, that’s kind of an underlying theme here. They get a lot of stops, then they get transition. They are very, very good in the open floor. Especially when Thaddeus Young comes in, they have four or five guys that can take you off the dribble. This is going to be a tough series for us, man.
“This should be a series - the small things, the 50-50 balls, the rebounding wars, who has the most turnovers, executions, things of that nature.’’
Man on a mission
Coach Doc Rivers downplayed the effect Hawks owner Michael Gearon Jr.’s comments had on Garnett. Gearon called Garnett “the dirtiest player in the league’’ after Game 5.
“I don’t think Mike’s statement had anything to do with that outburst by Kevin,’’ Rivers said. “I think Kevin wanted to win the game, then after the game you can say so. But I just think Kevin wanted to win.’’
In addition to 28 points, Garnett also had game highs of 14 rebounds and 5 blocks, as well as 3 steals.
Hollins a big help
Ryan Hollins played with the Celtics starters in the final minutes, grabbing a crucial offensive rebound before Garnett’s go-ahead field goal.
“I thought his athleticism kind of changed it,’’ Rivers said. “And, honestly, he’s an irritant. He [ticks] guys off in practice. Especially against Atlanta, they have guys that get upset, and I thought Ryan’s actions would bother some of their guys. And the funny thing is, he’s the nicest guy, he doesn’t mean to, but that’s what he does.’’
Hollins joined the Celtics in late March and made his first real impact April 20 in Atlanta, logging 30 minutes and scoring 8 points.
“Every guy, from 1 to 15, all of us are ready to go out and play,’’ Hollins said.
Asked about how he affects the opposition, Hollins replied: “I’m not really worried how they feel, I’m worried about our success and how we play. I’m a guy who plays hard and to disrupt a guy’s shot or get him off of what he’s doing, that’s my job.’’
Garnett has influenced Hollins since they began playing together in offseason workouts in Los Angeles.
“That means everything,’’ Hollins said of Garnett’s approval. “That gives myself, young guys, everybody on bench, on the team, it gives us confidence. His presence out there, the way he showed up and played, his approach to every game - even before the playoffs, he got us prepared for these type of moments.
“A lifetime worth [of advice]. I mean, really, little things, attention to detail. That stuff is priceless, really.’’
Looking to get loose
Ray Allen (ankle) struggled Thursday night, shooting 1 of 7, but plans to be available Saturday night for Game 1. “I didn’t have that maneuverability on the floor,’’ Allen said. “Once I’m out there I do what I can to help the team. I won’t say it’s worse but it’s basically the same from what I felt yesterday. It’s frustrating, somewhat disappointing. I’m just going to come in and do what I can and build on it, do what I can do and try to get it strong. It’s sore and achy and, with that, it gets stiff. So, I’m doing what I can to loosen it up and move it around so I can get more mobility from it.’’ . . . The NBA acknowledged Friday that a foul on the Celtics in the closing seconds of Thursday’s game should have been ruled an away-from-the-play foul, which would have given the Hawks one free throw and possession of the ball. Atlanta trailed, 81-79, at the time. Because it was ruled a common foul, Al Horford got two free throws; he missed the first and made the second.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.