Boston Celtics: 2012Round2
The 76ers parlay turnovers into points with alarming ease because of their speed and athleticism. Yes, the stats suggest they're a pretty inefficient transition team overall (averaging only 1.1 points per play, 26th-best in the league, according to Synergy Sports data), but Boston's old legs are clearly not going to win a foot race with this team. Turnovers are unacceptable.
"They want to get into transition, and when they are in transition, they score," said Rivers. "When they are in half court, it's a little more difficult, so that's going to be our task. ... Listen, we're not going to outrun them, they are faster than us, they are going to win the track meet, no doubt about that. We have to find a way to get them to play in the half court."
The 76ers ranked 18th in the league this season in averaging 0.88 points per play in half-court sets. Transition plays accounted for a whopping 14.7 percent of their total plays -- second-most on the team behind only spot-up possessions.
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Jackie MacMullan: Celtics in 6
Paul Pierce's balky knee is a concern, but an active backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley should minimize Philly's pressure -- and their transition opportunities.
Chris Forsberg: Celtics in 6
Ray Allen (ankle) could be X factors in how this all plays out, particularly having to go up against a young and athletic squad like Philadelphia. Boston might need to find more offense from unusual sources.
Peter May: Celtics in 5
Defense will prevail in this matchup of two offensively challenged teams, and no one is playing it any better these days than the Celtics.
Greg Payne: Celtics in 6
Don't expect this to be a fast-paced, run-and-gun kind of series. These are two very disciplined, defensive-oriented teams, and I'm not expecting either team to have an easy time scoring the ball. This will most likely turn into a grind-it-out type of series, and the Celtics have proven they can thrive in those grittier affairs. Ultimately, what will propel the Celtics into the Eastern Conference Finals will be their late-game scoring, assuming Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are able to perform through their respective injuries. While Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala will be viable options for Philly in the closing minutes, if these games stay tight down the stretch, the C's will have a significant edge if Pierce and Allen are fully functioning.
A short time before Boston finished off Atlanta in six games, eighth-seeded Philadelphia did the same in ousting Chicago. It's only the fifth time since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams during the 1984 season that a No. 8 stunned a No. 1. In fact, since the first-round expanded to a seven-game format in 2003, 8th seeds were 2-16 in those series entering this year).
Game 1: Saturday, May 12 - Philadelphia at Boston - 8 p.m. (TNT)
Game 2: Monday, May 14 - Philadelphia at Boston - 7 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Wednesday, May 16 - Boston at Philadelphia - 7 p.m. (TNT)
Game 4: Friday, May 18 - Boston at Philadelphia - TBD (ESPN)
Game 5*: Monday, May 21 - Philadelphia at Boston - TBD (TNT)
Game 6*: Wednesday, May 23 - Boston at Philadelphia - TBD (ESPN)
Game 7*: Saturday, May 26 - Philadelphia at Boston - TBD
(* if necessary)
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