Tough D? Philly is used to it
The 76ers already have seen a preview of their second-round matchup with the Celtics - their series against the Bulls in the first round. Philadelphia, ranked third in the league in points against, vanquished the Bulls (first), and now gets the Celtics (second).
We just went right from the second-best defense in the league to the first, 76ers coach Doug Collins said before a 92-91 Game 1 loss to Boston Saturday night. I dont think were going to get any respite.
In the opening round, the 76ers focused on preventing the Bulls from getting offensive rebounds. Against the Celtics, the focus will be slightly different.
This series, you better take care of the ball, Collins said. You cannot make high-risk plays against this team. Last time we were in here we turned it over 16 times. I told our guys if you want to see a common thread for us, in our four wins against Chicago we had under double-digit turnovers, and both games we lost we had double-digit.
So weve got to take care of the ball. What happens is thats where they get easy scores and thats where they get 3-point field goals.
Saturday night, the Celtics turned 11 Philadelphia turnovers into 13 points.
Collins noted that the Celtics want to get back defensively - instead of being aggressive on the boards - so he said, If we can get them to shoot under 45 percent and then rebound the ball, it will give us a chance to not necessarily get fast breaks but maybe to get some early offense, and thats what wed like to be able to do. Because their defense is tremendous.
Evan Turner cited defense when asked how the 76ers will get their offense going.
I think it starts with our defense, getting defensive stops to start pushing it, said Turner, who contributed 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 steals in the opener. Hopefully we just get them running.
The 76ers have seen the Celtics be more physical in the playoffs, taking it up from the regular season. So theyre prepared for that. Theyre also prepared to not score many points.
This is going to be one of those series where youve got to hopefully find some easy points, Collins said. The longer you get into the clock against that team, the tougher its going to be to score.
For Collins, the 76ers-Celtics playoff matchup brings back some memories - including the first NBA game the coach attended, when he made a visit to Lehigh when he was deciding on a college to attend.
He also has pretty clear memories of his first visit to the old Boston Garden.
I remember the parquet floor, and I couldnt wait to walk into Boston Garden, said Collins, who played against the Celtics during his eight-year playing career with the 76ers and coached against them during stints with the Bulls, Pistons, and Wizards. I walked in to see the parquet floor, and it wasnt what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be this beautifully polished parquet floor that you could eat off of. I realized that wasnt the case.
There were other things that Collins remembers about his trips to the old Garden - the heat being turned all the way up, or all the way down, the early-morning wake-up calls, getting game tape to watch as a coach, which turned out to be blank.
All these wonderful things I remember, Collins said. Good rivalry.
Turner, though, doesnt have the same appreciation for the Philadelphia-Boston rivalry.
That was like 50 years ago, wasnt it? he said.
Allen was a force
The 76ers got some solid minutes off the bench by Lavoy Allen, who had 12 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes . . . Andre Iguodala praised the final play of the game by the Celtics, when they inbounded the ball to the 76ers side of the court to avoid a quick foul, a ploy that ended the game. Thats the last thing on your mind, that theyll go on our side of the court, Iguodala said. Its kind of a gamble, but its a smart gamble. They beat us on it. . . . Lou Williams wasnt entirely happy with his play off the bench. He shot just 4 for 11 in 24 minutes, and was victimized by a big block by Avery Bradley with 2:58 to play. A couple of guys, myself, didnt play up to our abilities, but I think we played them well enough to win the basketball game, Williams said. Before the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers named Williams as the guy he would least like to see with the ball in the final seconds of a game if the 76ers needed to make a shot . . . Turner said that watching Rajon Rondo doesnt bait him into taking the same risks as the Celtics point guard, even though it might be tempting. Id get taken out [of the game], Turner said. Rondos got the long leash. . . . Asked what the difference has been between the end of the regular season, when it was not assured that the 76ers would make the playoffs, and now, Collins smiled and said, Coaching. He added, seriously, My young guys are growing up. Thats what you do, you play in these kind of moments and you cant pay for the experience that youre getting.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.