By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Whenever the Philadelphia 76ers have had a bad game in the playoffs, they’ve always found a way to bounce back in a series. Down to two games to one in their best of seven second-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Sixers were in another situation where they had to come hard to get back in it.
Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Celtics, the Sixers streak of coming back from tough playoff losses was in serious jeopardy and they were on the verge of being in a deep 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.
But the Sixers are not only alive, they are well and are back on even footing with the Celtics.
In a game where the Sixers were down 15-0 to start the game, shot an atrocious 23 percent (9-of-39) from the field after the first half and trailed by as many 18 points early in the third quarter, Doug Collins young team managed to somehow even their best of seven Eastern Conference semifinal with an amazing 92-83 comeback victory over the stunned Celtics in front of a packed house at the Wells Fargo Center.
“We’re never discouraged,” said Sixers forward Thaddeus Young. “We knew that when we shot that poorly that we couldn’t keep shooting that poorly. We just said keep doing what we been doing. When we shot like that in the first half, it wasn’t just jump shots. We were trying to get it in the paint and we had to keep imposing our will in the game. We had to keep following the game plan. It’s just a matter of making shots. We did a better job of getting ourselves more open in the second half than we did in the first.”
With his team on the brink of a deep 3-1 hole, Collins kept exhorting his team to hang in a game where inside baskets and going to the free-throw line was an adventure, bordering on a disaster movie for the Sixers in the first half.
“I just kept telling our guys, ‘we’re going to keep battling,” Collins said. “Something’s good going to happen here…We came out in that fourth quarter and we executed. We moved the ball around, we didn’t turn the ball over and we made some big shots.”
The Sixers were able to bounce back in the second half thanks to their defense and their bench, especially with the starters struggling to find the basket. Sixers guard Louis Williams gave the Sixers a spark of the bench with his scoring 13 of his 15 points in the second half. He also had eight assists including a big dime to Andre Iguodala, who knocked down a three-point bucket to put the Sixers up by five points with a 36.9 left in the game. The Sixers closed the game on a 9-0 run.
“When we were bleeding, Lou has that capability,” Collins said. “Lou made some big shots and then he made a huge pass. He was shooting the ball so well that he got in the paint and he kicked it out to Dre (Iguodala) and put us up five.”
Rookie Lavoy Allen (eight points and 10 rebounds) and Young, who scored 12 points, pulled 10 rebounds and three assists, provided the muscle for the Sixers in the interior grabbing rebounds, playing defense and passing the ball on the offensive end. Thanks to Allen and Young, the Sixers managed to save several possessions by dominating the offensive boards out-rebounding Boston 17-5.
The Sixers also forced 17 turnovers and got 27 fast break points. In the third quarter, the Sixers knocked down that 18-point deficit by going a 15-2 scoring spurt to trail by just five with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
“They sped us up a little bit and we were taking quick shots,” said Celtics point Rajon Rondo. “I guess we made some turnovers in that stretch and they made shots.”
But Boston increased the deficit to nine with 4:07 left, but the Sixers closed out the quarter on a 10-5 spurt to cut the deficit to four going into fourth quarter.
“I thought coming out of halftime, really I thought they just came out and became more physical,” said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “We took it away from ourselves, they took it away, too.We did more than settle for (jump shots) We stopped running our stuff.”
The much-maligned Iguodala also came up big for the Sixers, scoring 13 of his 16 points in the second half. He was 3-for-3 from three-point range including that dagger of a trey that put the Celtics away for good.