Boston Celtics: 2012Game47

GameCenter: Another scary blow for C's

March, 24, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- A look at ESPN Boston headlines after the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, including how Boston continues to rally despite all the health woes it's battled this season:

Hollins arrives with big goals

March, 24, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- Joining his fifth NBA team in six seasons, Celtics newcomer Ryan Hollins admits the question of why he hasn't been able to stick with one squad is fair.

"I gotta be better," admitted Hollins. "A lot of it is fit; you get with certain teams, certain chemistry, certain environments, and guys tend to flourish. You've seen it around the league -- each team, each situation. Hopefully this is my team, my situation. In fact, I’m going to make it my team, my situation. I’m going to do everything in my power to make it work."

Hollins, a 27-year-old 7-footer officially inked Friday morning after being waived by Cleveland earlier this week, joined the Celtics in Philadelphia where he chipped in a point (missing 3 of his 4 attempts at the charity stripe) and a foul over 3 minutes, 19 seconds of floor time in a 99-86 loss to the 76ers.

Hollins came highly recommended by fellow west-coast dwellers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who have worked out with him in SoCal during recent summers, including the lockout-extended offseason this year. Hollins said getting to absorb some of their knowledge planted the seed about potentially playing with them down the road.

Boston's desperation for a big man, coupled with Hollins' fading role in Cleveland (though he called it a first-class organization and harbors no ill feelings) made that opportunity come together sooner than he might have imagined. Hollins said Eastern Conference foes Miami and Indiana both expressed some interest, but Boston's situation intrigued him most and when Danny Ainge phoned his agent, Hollins called the decision a no-brainer.

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Bradley (ankle) hopes to play Sunday

March, 24, 2012
Joe Murphy/Getty ImagesCeltics guard Avery Bradley sprained his left ankle during Friday's loss in Philly.
PHILADELPHIA -- Celtics reserve guard Avery Bradley sat out the second half of Friday's loss to the Philaldelphia 76ers due to a sprained left ankle and despite hobbling a bit through the locker room, expressed hope at being back on the floor for Sunday's visit from the Washington Wizards.

Bradley said he landed awkwardly while chasing a rebound late in the first half and couldn't get back on the floor after the intermission.

"I’ll be able to deal with it," said Bradley. "I can’t really run right now. I'm hoping that [Saturday] it’ll get better. I’ll be ready to play in our next game. When’s our next game, Sunday? Hopefully I’ll be able to play."

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Rapid Reaction: 76ers 99, Celtics 86

March, 23, 2012
AP Photo/Matt SlocumAvery Bradley and the Celtics stumbled on the last stop of their marathon road trip in Philly.
PHILADELPHIA -- Rapid reaction after the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics 99-86 Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center:

Elton Brand erupted for 14 of his team-high 20 points as part of a dominant third quarter that carried the host 76ers to their second triumph over the Celtics this month. The 76ers spread out the wealth, putting six players in double figures, including 19 points from Lou Williams off the bench. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce scored 20 points apiece for Boston, but the loss was secondary on a night when health again was thrust into the spotlight.

Friday's game was delayed for 10 minutes when Celtics guard Mickael Pietrus endured a frightening head injury while crashing to the floor midway through the second quarter. Pietrus got tangled up with Philadelphia's Lou Williams while driving to the basket and hit the floor hard trying to force a shot attempt. He was attended to by medical personnel before being carted off on a stretcher and taken from the arena via ambulance. There was no immediate word on his condition. Hop HERE for more.

Coming out of halftime, an emotionally drained Celtics team lacked all the energy it had early on. Already playing without Ray Allen (ankle), the team lost both Pietrus and Avery Bradley (sprained left ankle) to injury. Boston owned a six-point cushion coming out of the intermission (it had been as high as 10), but were outscored 37-17 in the third quarter as Philadelphia ran away with the game. The Celtics were clinging to a 64-63 lead with under five minutes to play in the frame, but Philadelphia embarked on a 17-2 run to close out the quarter. Elton Brand did much of the damage and connected on 7-of-10 shots for 14 points overall during the third quarter.

Before his injury, Pietrus produced a ridiculous dunk early in the second quarter. Coming off a Garnett screen, Pietrus exploded into the paint and posterized Spencer Hawes with a one-handed jam that had Boston out front 36-30 at the time.

It's hard to imagine what more these Celtics team can endure. Having already lost two players to heart ailments this season (Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox) and recently losing Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist injury), the team endured the loss of Pietrus and the very frighteningly possibility that his injury is serious. All this a little more than a year after Marquis Daniels suffered a scary spine injury that ended his season (ironically, Daniels will be thrust into a larger role now because of the uncertainty around Pietrus). As for Friday's game, the 76ers secured the tie-breaker having won the first two of three meetings with the Celtics, putting them in the driver's seat in the Atlantic Division.

Pregame: Allen out, Pietrus to start

March, 23, 2012
David Butler II/US PresswireCeltics guard Ray Allen is out against Philadelphia due to an ankle injury.
PHILADELPHIA -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said shooting guard Ray Allen struggled to warm up before Friday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers and will sit out due to a bothersome left ankle. Mickael Pietrus will start in his place.

Allen originally tweaked the ankle during the fourth quarter of a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on March 12. Rivers believes the injury has flared because of the amount of activity on this trip.

"[The Clippers game] feels like a month ago, but it’s on this same trip," said Rivers. "Really, I would probably say he had the ankle [injury] and the amount of games after the ankle [injury] probably had more to do with it than anything else...

"[Allen] tried to shoot [Friday], he comes over early, [but he] just couldn’t get shots up. That’s unusual. When Ray pulls himself out, then his ankle is really bothering him."

Allen returned in the final moments after injuring the ankle in Los Angeles in a game in which he played 40 minutes, 21 seconds. He played 169 minutes over five games in the 10 days after the injury, including a low of 25:26 against Milwaukee Thursday night, but the ankle was bothersome enough to force him out of the final game of this season-long eight-game road trip.

The Celtics can take solace in the fact that they are 5-0 when Allen has not played this season, including 2-0 with Pietrus in his place.

Number crunch: Celtics vs. 76ers

March, 23, 2012
Our friends at Elias Sports Bureau provided some statistical nuggets in advance of Friday's Celtics-76ers showdown. Here are a few that jumped out to us:

Howard Smith/US PresswireCeltics sharpshooter Ray Allen has been a lot more sharp after the first quarter this season.
* The 76ers were 20-9 and trailed only Chicago (23-7) and Miami (22-7) in the Eastern Conference standings through games of Feb. 13. Since that date, Philadelphia has posted a 6-12 (.333) record, tied with Toronto for the third worst in the NBA ahead of only Charlotte (4-12, .250) and Washington (5-13, .278).

* Paul Pierce is averaging only 11 points per game and is shooting only 35.1 percent from the field (13-for-37) over his last four games played at the Wells Fargo Center.

* Elton Brand has not been to the free-throw line in any of the last five games he has played. That is the longest such streak of his career. Prior to his current streak, the most consecutive games Brand had ever gone without a free-throw attempt was three (2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons).

* The 76ers lead the NBA in lowest opponents’ field-goal percentage allowed (41.7 percent). The last time Philadelphia led the NBA in that category was in 1980-81.

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Howard Smith/US PresswireKevin Garnett is hoping the C's can reverse their fortunes from their last Philadelphia visit.
It's a battle for the top spot in the Atlantic Division when the Boston Celtics (25-21, 9-13 away) visit the Philadelphia 76ers (26-21, 16-10 home) on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m., ESPN). The last time the two teams met, Philadelphia absolutely steamrolled Boston as part of a 103-71 triumph. With only three head-to-head meetings between the two teams this season, the 76ers can also secure the head-to-head tiebreaker over Boston with a win Friday. The division crown is quite a prize this season as it ensures the owner a spot no worse than No. 4 in the Eastern Conference playoff seedings. To preview the matchup, we play a little game of 2-on-2 with colleague Greg Payne.

1. What's one thing the Celtics need to do to reverse their fortunes from the first time they visited the 76ers?

Payne: They just need to compete. I know the C's were coming off back-to-back overtime victories the last time they were in Philadelphia, but in that game the majority of the group (save for Paul Pierce) simply didn't show up with any sense of urgency. Thursday's win in Milwaukee serves as a great example of how the C's are capable of jumping out of the gates quick and solidifying their mark on the game. Even though the defense was lacking in the first half on Thursday, the C's kept their foot on the gas pedal, and never were at risk of falling behind by double-digits, the way we saw them do so so often earlier in the season. That attack mentality needs to be on display tonight, and they can't afford to make excuses about it being the second night of a back-to-back.

Forsberg: Show up? Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted his team just didn't have it last time. Well, they gotta have it tonight as starting strong really is the key. It's been such a rarity this season that it was almost startling to see Boston hang 35 points (and nearly 38 if Rondo's halfcourt heave had gotten off a split-second earlier) in the first quarter against the Bucks. Yes, it's the second night of a back-to-back, but buoyed by a quality win in Milwaukee -- one in which its starters played reasonable minutes -- and with a need to atone for that last Philadelphia visit, the Celtics shouldn't have much of a problem finding the energy to finish strong on this eight-game road trip. The April schedule is no picnic, but there's an opportunity here to close out March with some momentum and, from a psyche standpoint, a win Friday would go an awful long way for Boston.

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Jeff Green
16.8 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksK. Humphries 0.9