PHILADELPHIA — The Celtics shot wide on a chance to clinch a berth in the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night, losing Game 6, 82-75, to the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center. There will be a Game 7 in Boston Saturday night.
The Celtics turned in the second-worst shooting performance of the New Big Three era in Game 6, hitting just 26 of 78 shots for a percentage of 33.3 percent. Their previous low percentage in five seasons was 31.3 percent in Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons.
While the shooting woes were rare, failure to complete the series in a timely fashion has become a familiar problem with this team. The Celtics fell to 2-11 in potential series-closing games on the road since the arrivals of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008.
Garnett turned in another 20-point performance despite the poor shooting (9 of 20), but Allen looked lost, the bone spurs in his ankle leaving him a shell of his healthier self. Only Paul Pierce’s ability to get to the free throw line and knock down the shots — he made all 13 — prevented this game from being more out of hand.
Credit Philadelphia’s defense for making it difficult on the Celtics, and the Sixers for hanging in the game despite offensive trouble of their own. Philadelphia committed nine turnovers in the first half and made just one of nine 3-pointers for the game.
The first 3-pointer of the game by either side — a dagger from the corner by Mickael Pietrus — rang in halftime and gave the Celtics a 36-33 lead. The Celtics shot just 31 percent in the first half but were saved by other areas on the stat sheet. Boston made 9 of 9 free throws in the first half, it got 8 second-chance points, and it held Philadelphia to 40 percent shooting.
Rajon Rondo usually runs the show for Boston, but he failed to record an assist in the first quarter as the Celtics trailed, 22-19, after one. He finished with 9 points, 6 assists, 9 rebounds, and 4 turnovers.
The timing of Game 7 in Boston is still up in the air and is dependent on the outcome of tomorrow night’s Heat-Pacers game.
Final: Sixers 82, Celtics 75
38.7 seconds 4th quarter, Sixers 78-72: Ray Allen misses an open 3-pointer and that’s all she wrote.
1:51 4th quarter, Sixers 78-69: Elton Brand hits the jumper. Kevin Garnett has found his range in the fourth quarter, but it’s too late.
3:49 4th quarter, Sixers 74-65: The Celtics aren’t going to shoot their way back into this game. It’s a make/miss league, and they simply don’t have enough makes.
7:02 4th quarter, Sixers 70-59: First double-digit lead for Philadelphia. The Celtics are running out of time. Lou Williams (7 points) is getting to the rim now when he wants to.
8:43 4th quarter, Sixers 67-59: It’s do-or-die time now for the Celtics. They haven’t found their offense all game, so it doesn’t seem likely they’ll find it now. They need to, though.
10:08 4th quarter, Sixers 63-58: The Celtics have a 41-29 edge on the boards. They’re getting to loose balls. Now if only they could make a shot.
End 3d quarter, Sixers 60-56: What a dismal display for the Celtics in the third. Just six field goals in that quarter for the Celtics, who are shooting 32 percent. Pierce’s free throws are the only thing keeping Boston in this game. Give Philadelphia credit. The Sixer are playing great defense.
3:35 3d quarter, Sixers 52-48: Brandon Bass is 2 for 12 after scoring 27 points in Game 5.
6:10 3d quarter, Tied at 46: Sixers make a run punctuated by an Iguodala dunk, but Pierce answers with a 3-point play. Ray Allen is out of the game with four fouls. He got abused by Evan Turner in the post on the play before.
10:54 3d quarter, Celtics 41-35: Pierce fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He makes all three; the Celtics are 14 of 14 at the line.
Halftime, Celtics 36-33: Mickael Pietrus hits the first 3-pointer of the half by either team to give the Celtics the lead at the break.
This game is uglier than normal, and that’s saying a lot. Garnett and Bass have combined to shoot 5 of 19. The Sixers have nine turnovers.
4:16 2d quarter, Celtics 31-28: Third foul on Ray Allen. Lavoy Allen has three fouls for the Sixers.
6:13 2d quarter, Celtics 29-28: Great little run by the Celtics here. Garnett is running hard, and he’s gotten deep position a couple of times. Pierce just got to his spot for a jumper. And Rondo seems to finally be controlling the tempo to his liking.The Celtics are shooting 37 percent, but nine free throws go a long way.
7:57 2d quarter, Sixers 28-23: This is where the Celtics can get into trouble. Turnovers or blocked shots lead to Iguodala getting out on the break. Dooling and Pietrus both complained about a non-call rather than run back on defense.
9:23 2d quarter, Sixers 24-23: Celtics getting decent minutes from Keyon Dooling. Ryan Hollins is the center of the moment.
End 1st quarter, Sixers 22-19: Uneven start.
The good: Paul Pierce (five free throws) is getting to the line. The bad: No assists in the first quarter for Rajon Rondo. He’s also being beaten on defense by Jrue Holiday. Also bad: Greg Stiemsma looks like he’s in over his head.
Another good thing: The Celtics are only down 3 points.
3:20 1st quarter, Sixers 15-12: Elton Brand just got a deflection and
took it right at Paul Pierce and KG for the score. Timeout, Celtics.
Speaking of Garnett, he’s been invisible. He’s 0 for 2.
5:16 1st quarter, Sixers 11-10: Go to the rim. Brandon Bass just missed a couple of jump shots that he should make, but the Celtics should also keep attacking. The Celtics have made just 4 of 14 shots.
8:18 1st quarter, Sixers 8-4: Ray Allen just picked up his second foul. That’s a problem. Mickael Pietrus is in.
10:51 1st quarter, Sixers 2-0: Doc Rivers said before the game he was worried about turnovers. One leads to an alley-oop to Andre Iguodala. Iggy misses the chance to do it again on Philly’s next possession.
12:00 1st quarter, 0-0: Loud boos for Kevin Garnett. They’re playing the Iverson montage now. AI waiting in the tunnel to be introduced.
Pregame: Allen Iverson is expected to be in the building. The Sixers showed a montage of AI on the Jumbotron before the game. KG might get a couple of people yelling in his direction.
Ayla Brown just walked into the press room. I don’t care if Helen of Troy walks in, this is Game 6. Let’s get it.