Friday, November 9, 2012

NBA FINALS - Celtics/Lakers - Game 7

From Roy Hibbert crashing into the Lakers bench, to Garnett and Gasol fouling out when their teams needed them most, to the Celtics gaining a 7 point lead, only for LA to cut it down to 2...

This was Game 7 of the NBA Finals, where amazing happens.

Chock full of unforgettable moments, the Lakers seized an early 10 point lead against the weary albeit resilient Boston Celtics in the first half, scaring every fan dressed in green. But all night, Boston wouldn't be denied, not even after Kobe Bryant lit up the arena with 24 early points.

Paul Pierce hit 3's with Eddie House, while Beasley, Jefferson, Rondo, KG & Hibbert ran down the court for innumerable jams.

With 17 turnovers by LA, Boston gathered 8 steals to their advantage. Before long, the lead belonged to the Celtics. Down by 4, Kobe Bryant looked to fire from three point land, but found defensive specialists, Shane Battier & Caron Butler, waiting for him.

The ball fumbled into Dwight Howard and trickled out of bounds. Battier was fouled and nailed both three throws. With nowhere left to turn, a confusing play by LA got Steve Nash a three-pointer in the corner, only for it to be overthrown and clang off the rim.

Rajon Rondo hit 2 more from the free throw line with finality as the crowd erupted in glee of the unthinkable. When Metta World Peace hit a baseline jumper, it didn't matter. A thorough effort had granted the Boston Celtics with a mountainous victory that was thought to never be. 118-125, Boston.

Shooting Percentage
LAL - 45% | BOS - 43%

LAL - 60 | BOS - 44

LAL - 17 | BOS - 8

Bryant - 34pts | Rondo - 19pts/12asts
Gasol - 23pts/18rebs | Garnett - 17pts/11rebs
Howard - 22pts/18rebs | Beasley - 17pts/8rebs
MWP - 16pts | Pierce - 16pts
Nash - 9pts/6asts (foul trouble) | Jefferson - 16pts
Jamison - 8pts/6rebs | Hibbert - 16pts/14rebs

The green and white confetti fell, as NBA history was beautifully made.

NBA FINALS - Celtics/Lakers - Game 6

In a repeat of Game 5, both teams fought neck and neck, not giving up an inch. Throughout the nasty fray, Boston was able to claw their way to a small lead as LA fired back.

In the 3rd quarter, the Celtics went into overdrive.

The lead grew to 20 and LA realized it was a lot cause.

Lakers, 101, Celtics, 126.

Bryant - 20pts/6asts | Rondo - 21pts/11asts
Nash - 24pts/6asts | KG - 17pts/9rebs
Howard - 19pts/18rebs | Hibbert - 18pts/14rebs
Peace - 13pts/12rebs | Jefferson - 19pts
Gasol - 11pts | House - 17pts
Jamison - 12pts | Beasley - 14pts

So, there will be a game 7. Somehow. Can LA finally win?

NBA FINALS - Celtics/Lakers - Game 5

Neck-and-neck. Spooky leads by LA. 34 points by Richard Jefferson. Boston, 118: LA, 111.

KG, Roy Hibbert & Michael Beasley combined for 56 points and 25 rebounds as fluent trio. LA couldn't recover, as Boston pulled away in the 4th quarter, shooting 54% all night.

Kobe Bryant had 24 points, but was blocked mid-dunk, a message by Boston's big men that they aren't going to lay down for the anxious Lakers.

If the Lakers win the title, it won't be in California, courtesy of the Celtics.

NBA FINALS - Celtics/Lakers - Game 4

"It ain't over", Rajon Rondo declared after Game 3 when the Lakers demolished the Boston Celtics.

He meant it.

Boston returned the favor tonight, defying the odds (at least momentarily), winning 105-75 on the road in front of a very pro-Lakers crowd. Michael Beasley, Pierce, Rondo and KG united to blow out LA and extend the NBA Finals. But can they do it again in Game 5?

NBA FINALS - Celtics/Lakers - Game 3

Gut-check time for Boston. No time left for clumsy errors and only room for tough play.

But not tonight. The Lakers returned home and absolutely demolished the defending champions, cruising to a 76-107 victory that has a lot of people thinking "sweep."

Boston looked soulless tonight. After handing the Lakers games one and two, who could blame them? LA couldn't miss tonight, shooting 55% overall and 60% in the 3rd quarter. This heartbreaking loss for Boston means they'll have to do the unprecedented and make NBA history by winning 4 straight games to repeat as NBA Champions. And the LA Lakers love those odds.

NBA FINALS - Celtics/Lakers - Game 2

Flash back to last year's NBA Finals and you'll discover that Kobe Bryant missed a wide open three-pointer in the corner, slimming LA's chances to stay alive in the series that Boston went on to win.

Tonight? The Black Mamba redeemed himself, and Boston helped him do it.

Somehow, Kobe Bryant was left unguarded late in the final 10 seconds. LA needed a three-pointer, and #24 gave it to them, sticking it to Boston in the process.

Beforehand, Boston had climbed to a 17 point lead in the 3rd quarter. They yanked their starters out of the game to prepare for a crucial Game 3, which in hindsight might still be a forgivable decision, with Beasley, KG and Jefferson having scored 20+ points already.

But it was like blood in the water to Steve Nash, who fed the ball to LA's stars. Despite Boston's improved defense, they were abused on the boards and gave up easy points as result. Richard Jefferson missed a shot of his own to end regulation, which would've killed LA's dream of a comeback.

A gritty Overtime period proved deadly for the defending champions, as Steve Nash buried a triple of his own and Richard Jefferson failed to respond, as Boston lost 104-107. They will now have to win 2 of 3 games in LA to merely survive.

NBA FINALS - Celtics/Lakers - Game 1

Steve Nash had 30 points and the biggest shot tonight, a 3 pointer that granted LA with a deafening upset on the Celtics home court in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The ex-Sun maneuvered his way into the paint at will all night, as Boston narrowly lost, 100-101, to the bitter runner-up of yesteryear. Meanwhile, the Black Mamba poured in the points, Gasol played hard inside and Metta World Peace played with some fire tonight.

Boston perhaps relaxed too soon, after beating Miami just a couple days ago in the same arena that held Game 1 tonight. They were up by a decent margin late in the 4th quarter, but a terrible offensive rebound by Dwight Howard changed things altogether.

Not even a pair of steals by Paul Pierce and trio of tough 3's by Richard Jefferson could change that. Frankly, Boston should've never let it happen in the first place, but their rigid play all night couldn't afford a better outcome.

Eastern Conference Finals - Celtics/Heat - Game 7

Celtics handily defeat Heat?

Not quite, but Boston did lead by 20 at halftime due to a scoring drought by Miami, despite contentious 1st quarter action. Boston would pay, however, as they relaxed on defense and Ray Allen heated up.

Before long, Miami had cut the lead to 8 by the 4th quarter. To start it, a 7-0 run made the crowd in Beantown gasp in fear of their team choking against adversity. Yet Miami would never take the lead, remaining deadlocked with Boston until a shot by LeBron James from deep inside the lane rattled out to Miami's chagrin.

Afterward, Boston regained their footing and it was cemented once D-Wade missed a wide open 3 pointer-- something Eddie House never did all night, nailing 6 long balls for Boston -- a shot by Ray Allen did the same on the Heat's next possession and even a late jumper by "the King" missed.

Boston dribbled out the ball, outlasting the improved Miami Heat, 115-123. Last year, they were outed in 5 games, but this year they came to win. But so did Boston, who have an NBA Finals rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Eastern Conference Finals - Celtics/Heat - Game 6

Unlike Game 5, tonight's contest was neck-and-neck in the final two minutes. Ties were broken and remade, but in the end, it was D-Wade's jumper that gave Miami a 2 point advantage.

Despite Paul Pierce nailing a layup for one of those tie-making plays, "The Truth" failed to do it again in response to Wade's shot. Boston was forced to foul the Miami star, who made one of two free throws, leaving a three-pointer for Rajon Rondo to miss.

The Heat win Game 6, 108-111, much to the pleasure of south beach, as they turned in a retaliatory effort after being crushed in Game 5. They were faster, hungrier than Boston tonight, dominating them on the boards and scoring highly with second chance opportunities because of it.

In the loss, Richard Jefferson had 23 points; KG had 22pts/12rebs; Eddie House had 20pts on 6 three pointers; Paul Pierce had 14pts; Rondo had another modest game with 12pts/9asts and so did Michael Beasley with just 11pts.

D-Wade abused Boston's defense the most, surging his way to 39 points (much like Rondo did in Game 4) along with dishing out 8 assists, altogether to LBJ (14pts/8rebs/7asts, poor shooting), Chris Bosh (22pts/20rebs), Rashard Lewis (14pts), Udonis Haslem (8pts/12rebs) and Ray Allen (12pts, also on poor shooting).

Early on, it seemed like Boston would be celebrating a return to the NBA Finals, but Miami clearly thought otherwise. Game 7 will be in Boston. If memory serves, Miami will remember to play harder than in Game 5.

Eastern Conference - Celtics/Heat - Game 5

In an absolute blowout, the Boston Celtics dominated the Miami Heat tonight. They led by 50 at one point, winning 110-135 at home in front of an ecstatic crowd.

The defending champions shot above 50% for most of the game, performed much better at the free throw line, missing only 3 attempts, were extremely active on defense, swatting away 13 shots by Miami, ripping away 9 steals and stressing the Heat into committing 22 turnovers.

Off his huge night, Rajon Rondo didn't have much of a task tonight once the lead got rolling, as the star finished with just 10 points & 4 assists. Meanwhile, Michael Beasley had 23 points, KG had 19pts/15rebs, Shane Battier gave 18pts/8rebs, along with Roy Hibbert (17pts/9rebs) and Richard Jefferson's 15pts/7rebs.

Eddie House made it rain from three-point land for 12 points, Jordan Farmar had 7pts/4asts, two better than Caron Butler's 6pts/3asts as Boston routed Miami in this dominant showcase.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Eastern Conference Finals - Celtics/Heat - Game 4

The Boston Celtics haven't been themselves lately, suffering through shooting woes and team chemistry on the floor in their last series against the New York Knicks and now against the Miami Heat.

Tonight, Rajon Rondo provided (at least) a temporary cure. The fierce point guard came out with one mission: Beat Miami, or die trying. Countless times, Boston's wily leader collided into the paint against Miami's defense that brutalized him throughout the game.

But by the 3rd quarter, Rajon Rondo had 40 points, drawing plenty of fouls which prevented Miami from sizzling to a 3-1 series lead while the rest of the Celtics continued to struggle to make baskets.

Along with scoring, Rondo passed the ball off to his teammates, most notably Eddie House, Michael Beasley and Kevin Garnett-- all three of them hitting huge shots that were equally miraculous, including a 3 by House and a put-back by KG to somehow take the lead in the 4th, after falling down by 14 due to a plethora of dunks by LeBron James, effortless shots by Ray Allen and fast-break throwdowns by D-Wade.

A victory seemed unlikely, and had those precious shots missed, Miami would be dancing with a 3-1 lead, having forced Rajon Rondo's Celtics to win three straight games in response. Luckily, a huge 3 by Rondo in the final minute capped off a 5 point swing.

To their credit, Boston cracked down on defense and simply prayed that each shot Miami fired would miss. Most of them did, and with Rondo's passion, Boston clawed their way to a 2-2 split, winning 121-118, despite Rondo missing two clutch free throws with less than 3 seconds left in the game. A full-court heave by Miami wasn't answered, and the anxiousness of the crowd for their team to beat Boston died away.

Rajon Rondo peaked at 53 points, and Boston will somehow return home.

Eastern Conference Finals - Celtics/Heat - Game 3

Miami, Boston, South Beach, a roaring crowd.

That roaring crowd eventually roared even louder at Boston's sluggish defense and dreary offense, as the Miami Heat advanced to 2-1 against the defending champions, making shots while Boston couldn't, winning 104-111.

Chris Bosh scored 30+ and Miami's speed sapped the scarce hope Boston had for a comeback after surviving until the 3rd quarter on their meager shooting percentage. Most of the Celtics finished with 10 points and change, but Paul Pierce and Richard Jefferson were especially atrocious tonight, shooting the ball into a deep abyss instead of the basket.

When Michael Beasley fouled out, the gig was up for Boston.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Eastern Conference Finals - Celtics/Heat - Game 2

After a humbling loss in game one, Paul Pierce (31 points) and the Boston Celtics roared back with a 83-108 blowout victory in game two.

They double teamed Dwayne Wade early, limiting his ability to create plays for Miami. He battled his way to 22 points, and so did LeBron James, but the rest of the Heat were left out of the mix, especially Ray Allen who had anything but 26 points tonight like he did in game one.

In game one, Miami was more energetic than Boston but the Celtics repaired their focus and shot better than their bitter enemies tonight. Roy Hibbert powered his way to 16 points and 12 rebounds while Michael Beasley (25 points, 11 rebounds) challenged Boston's leader for the high score.

Tonight was a major win for Boston as the series shifts to south beach.

Eastern Conference Finals - Celtics/Heat - Game 1

The Boston Celtics did everything they could--everything to catch up against a powerful Miami lead, and everything they could do to lose it all.

They were slow to get the rebound, terrible at finishing easy shots, and even more terrible at making an easier shot after they managed to get the rebound again!

Focus was not part of Boston's strategy tonight. Somehow, they miraculously caught up in the 4th quarter, despite a 12 point lead by Miami and repetitive failures to tie the game by Boston. Eventually, a crazy scramble for the ball led to Michael Beasley (25 points, on 50% shooting) hammering the ball through the net, giving Boston the lead for the first time in quite a while.

But Boston couldn't save the deal. A confused play with 8.8 seconds left in the 4th quarter led to a rushed shot by Richard Jefferson (17 points/9 rebounds) and a dreaded OVERTIME period against a Miami Heat team that Boston wanted no part of tonight.

Despite Miami breaking out to a 5 point lead, Boston called a timeout and turned to Paul Pierce, who had been cold all night on 1-11 shooting. Despite the hit/miss ratio, "The Truth" nailed a 3 pointer and a stop by Boston on the other end led to a second shot dropping courtesy of Pierce as the pro-Celtics crowd cheered, a momentary break from the hervous silence that had overtaken the TD Garden.

But Chris Bosh (24 points/18 rebounds) nailed a tough shot over Kevin Garnett, who made a myriad of mistakes all night, giving Miami a 2 point lead all over again. With only 4 seconds to get the ball up the court and fire a reasonable shot, the Celtics only achieved half to the challenge. Rajon Rondo (17 points/11 assists), who had been brutalized all night by Miami's defense, wasn't able to wow his way into the paint, getting blocked before the crowd could hold their breath and pray that a shot (had there been one) gone up in the air in hope of the ball falling into the basket.

The clock expired after Roy Hibbert fumbled the loose ball and Boston's ineptitude was finalized, losing 117-115 in OT on their own court. Not even the hit-and-miss three pointer show by Eddie House (5-11 from downtown) could change that. Boston shot 36% in the 1st quarter, 34% in the 3rd and missed 8 free throws. While Miami missed 9 of their own, coming up short at the line of mercy is unacceptable for Boston.

To make matters worse, Miami's x-factor, Ray Allen, splashed his way to 26 points against his former team, who would've killed to score some easy shots of their own. LeBron James had 23 points and 11 assists, tying Rondo, Udonis Haslem had 12 points & 19 rebounds and D-Wade had the same as LBJ plus a point. Clearly, Boston should've double-teamed him sooner. The Celtics will have to improve and quit making mindless mistakes if they stand a chance in winning Game 2.

2nd Round - Celtics/Knicks - Game 5

Fatigue was a factor for both teams as Game 5 of this contentious series tipped off in the TD Garden.

A sloppy game that included 31 total turnovers, the New York Knicks had little going for them, having just lost both games on their home court, forcing themselves to win 3 straight against a tough Boston squad. They shot just 34% which stuck NY in an early hole.

Boston didn't do much better with 44%, but it was enough to close out this series. Their defense held NY to just 83 points with 15 blocks overall. Paul Pierce cooled off for half of his count in Game 4, scoring 18. Michael Beasley had 15 points & 10 rebounds, Richard Jefferson had 12 & 6, while Rip Hamilton & Eddie House combined for 22. The big men, KG & Roy Hibbert, also combined for 20 points and 11 rebounds. Rajon Rondo dished out 5 assists, but scored just 4 points.

Bowing out with an 83-95 defeat, the New York Knicks were led with 40 from Melo & Stoudemire. Raymond Felton had 16 but once again struggled to shoot wisely on 5-21 shooting. But Jason Kidd shot the worst, failing to be the x-factor, as he made only 3 of 15 shots. Baron Davis was scoreless on 4 shot attempts and not even Michael Redd could make a layup inside.

Paul Pierce knocked down a 3 in the final minute, ending NY's feeble attempt to steal the game after cutting Boston's lead to 7. The green and white confetti fell shortly thereafter, and Boston's consistent hunger to win should ensure that it will rain down in the garden once again against Miami.

2nd Round - Celtics/Knicks - Game 4

"The Truth" went on a scoring frenzy from the opening tip, scoring 8 points in just 94 seconds and 36 total.

A mini-duel with Carmelo Anthony after the tip-off confirmed a showdown in Madison Square Garden, and Melo was the first to miss a shot, an omen of things to come by the time the buzzer sounded despite Melo's 56% shooting. The star of the Knicks would finish with 40 points of his own, but Boston scored more through more coherent team play for a 115-108 victory.

Raymond Felton made things ugly for New York, firing up bad shots, finding his way to 18 points and 6 assists at the expense of his teammates. Baron Davis put in 6, Marcus Camby had 6 points/9 rebounds and Jason Kidd chipped in 9 off the bench. But it was the turnovers department that cost NY the game, fumbling the ball 21 times compared to 8 by Boston.

This clumsy play by NY drowned out a quiet night by Rajon Rondo (9 points, 8 assists). Michael Beasley continued to play well, scoring 12 & 12, with KG not far behind at 10 & 10. Rip Hamilton splashed in 25 points, complimenting Paul Pierce well for this victory that puts the Knicks in a terrible position, with the Celtics leading 3-1 and a return trip to Boston.

2nd Round - Celtics/Knicks - Game 3

Richard Jefferson was unconscionable tonight scoring 32 points for Boston as the Celtics came into Madison Square Garden and left with a 126-114 victory.

Jefferson made the effort all night to find open shot opportunities and buried clutch shots in the 4th quarter, neutralizing strong play by Carmelo Anthony by comparison. Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo came out with a lot of energy, using his quickness to score despite contact, finishing with 18 points and 10 assists on 8-12 shooting, keeping himself in line as he dished the ball to his teammates instead.

Michael Beasley put in 16 points and 10 rebounds, Paul Pierce had 15 and Kevin Garnett (despite stellar shooting) had just 13 points & 6 rebounds. Off the bench, Eddie House nailed 4 long balls, Roy Hibbert had some nice put-back shots for 7 points & 5 boards and struggling guard Caron Butler combined with Rip Hamilton for 13 points.

This was not the return visit to MSG that the Knicks were hoping for. Despite outscoring Boston in fast break and second chance points, NY couldn't win this one, not even with 29 by Carmelo Anthony, 22 & 17 by STAT, 12 by Jason Kidd and 27 by Raymond Felton (on icky 10-29 shots). They kept within reach, seeming to be perpetually down by 10 because Boston was simply more efficient tonight.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2nd Round - Celtics/Knicks - Game 2

After the Knicks blitzed their way to a win in Game 1, the Celtics mulled over the loss and thundered back tonight, winning 92-103 in commanding fashion by ending Game 2 on a 15-6 run.

As the final minute started to tick down, Marcus Camby missed a contested dunk and then Amar'e Stoudemire was blocked on a put-back attempt after a three-pointer splashed in for Boston on the middle possession.

Those two precious misses, despite a clutch 3 by Jason Kidd in the corner, would prove to be the undoing of the Knicks, a debacle that wasn't helped by a turnover off the inbound pass late in the game that led to a layup by Rajon Rondo, who commanded his team to a morale-boosting victory tonight with 21 points and 10 assists.

Paul Pierce had 19 points, hitting vital shots to keep Boston alive amidst 27 points from Carmelo Anthony and 20 by Jason Kidd. Kevin Garnett powered his way to 21 points and 8 rebounds, embittered by being subdued in Game 1. Michael Beasley had 15 points and 6 rebounds and Rip Hamilton ran off screens for 15 helpful points. Eddie House, despite not shooting the lights out, hit 3 huge long balls for the defending champions.

In the loss, Raymond Felton had 13 points, Marcus Camby had 10 points and 11 rebounds, but most noticeably, Amar'e Stoudemire was more of a distraction on offense rather than the unstoppable force he was in Game 1, finishing with just 10 points and 17 rebounds on 5-14 shooting.

Boston's defense, despite some lapses in a dour first half that made the crowd anxious as New York pulled out to an early lead, was efficient when it mattered. The Celtics blocked 9 Knicks shots and caused 16 turnovers compared to their 7. Remarkably, despite New York blazing up the court in the first half, Boston led the fast break department 27-8 overall, holding the Knicks to under 100 points.

The green and white confetti falls tonight, but what awaits Boston in NYC?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2nd Round - Celtics/Knicks - Game 1

Richard Jefferson had a brisk first quarter, but fizzled throughout the game. The Celtics looked downright sluggish all night, and Kevin Garnett, burdened by foul trouble, never made an impact, scoring a measly 4 points and 2 rebounds. Roy Hibbert played in his stead, but couldn't stop the monster known as Amar'e Stoudemire.

STAT had 33 points and 16 rebounds, hitting incredible shots in the paint practically at will, including a flattening 6th foul for Kevin Garnett at the start of the final quarter. Carmelo Anthony, despite being pressured early on by Shane Battier, was not far behind his teammate, scoring 28 points and making clutch free throws in the final nail-biting minute that sealed Game 1 for New York.

The Knicks blitzed out to an 8-0 run toward the end of the 3rd quarter, chilling the fans in Boston, but the Celtics strangely fought back, scoring 8 of their own, as a three pointer by Paul Pierce rattled in at the buzzer, with both teams deadlocked at 88.

Despite the high score, the Celtics played in slow motion all night and each one of them shot poorly, or not well enough to battle New York's onslaught. It was a gritty affair indeed and ties were the most common thing all night.

After calling a timeout, Jordan Farmar missed a 3 that would've tied the lackadaisical contest and Paul Pierce did the same to concede a disappointing start to this series. Boston fell 117-112, despite good play by Rajon Rondo & Michael Beasley. They'll have to look alive in Game 2, or Spike Lee will excitedly start rubbing his chin about a sweep by the Knicks.

1st Round - Celtics/76ers - Game 5

Paul Pierce struck Irish gold again, despite a desperate and valiant effort by the 76ers from the outset to the disheartening conclusion that brought a premature end to Philadelphia's post-season.

After a rim-crushing dunk by Jason Richardson tied the game at 103, Paul Pierce got the ball from Rajon Rondo (who just missed his 4th double double of the series).

After a crossover that belied Paul Pierce's longevity in the NBA, he used a dazzling first step to inch past his defender. But the recognition that Andrew Bynum was waiting for him at the basket activated the veteran forward's brilliance.

Paul Pierce dropped the bottom out for his defender by pulling back, fading, and knocking down a crippling shot, lifting Boston's score to 105 and leaving only .6 milliseconds for Philadelphia to respond. Without any timeouts, a full-court prayer was't answered and the series was abruptly over, despite Philadelphia's resilient energy.

Although they lost, Philadelphia outscored Boston considerably in the 1st quarter and forced the champions on their heels, trying to catch up against the much more fluent and sped up offense. Despite the added speed, and a plethora of three point shots, the 76ers weren't shooting the lights out like the Phoenix Suns would. But Andrew Bynum still dominated the paint, outmaneuvering Roy Hibbert and KG, finishing with 26 points and 17 rebounds, only to come up short.

The 76ers would've loved nothing more than to flip the pressure back onto the defending champions by stealing a win tonight. They certainly had enough to tie the game, but not enough time to extend this series to a Game 6, which would've saw them return to a stoked Philadelphia crowd. With enough energy and hunger, the underdogs might've blown the Celtics away, forcing a do-or-die Game 7 back in Boston.

It wasn't to be. The Celtics move on, 105-103, winning 4-1.

But the New York Knicks are waiting for them after knocking out the Bulls.

1st Round - Celtics/76ers - Game 4

A contingent effort, including big shots by Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo in the final two minutes, sealed a huge win for the defending champions.

Unlike in Games 2 and 3, Philadelphia's shooting took a hit tonight and they were unable to respond to Boston's steady and efficient performance. With two losses on their own court, Philadelphia is forced to stave off elimination in Game 5. They must count on yet again big and powerful performances by Holiday, Bynum, Hawes (who struggled tonight) and Young. Evan Turner chipped in, but came nowhere near to making a similar impact he made in Game 2.

Tonight, the defending champions proved they're in to win it, 102-97.

1st Round - Celtics/76ers - Game 3

Tonight, this series came to a collision point, as Boston's blowout in Game 1 and Philadelphia's gutsy response in Game 2 melted into an instant classic.

Andrew Bynum, Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday continued to play hard, scoring highly, much to the approval of the Philadelphia crowd. Having been stung in Game 2, Boston was forced to respond and they did, even if it was through desperation.

Down by 2 with only 2.2 seconds left on the clock, the ball was inbounded to Paul Pierce as he broke free from the defender out to the wing. "The Truth" wasted no time on anxiety and fired away for 3, sealing a much needed win for the defending champions, who had their spirits shaken in Game 2.

Their hopes of stunning the champions were immediately deflated and Philadelphia desperately called a timeout of their own with only .2 seconds to spare, but Andrew Bynum simply wasn't fast enough to get a shot off.

The Celtics win 102-101, showing Philadelphia that they're in for a battle.

1st Round - Celtics/76ers - Game 2

Evan Turner came alive for the 76ers, scoring 20+ points, as Philadelphia got a much needed split, 123-115.

Boston had no answer for Turner, because they were busy containing Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Andrew Bynum, all of which played extremely well, stretching the floor.

Philadelphia shot 60% in the second half, and Boston simply couldn't match such efficiency, missing shots down the stretch that would've kept the difference within reach.

Richard Jefferson and Michael Beasley scored well, but Rajon Rondo's stellar impact from Game 1 was absent, along with any coherent play by Boston. The defending champions must've still been basking in the satisfaction of crushing the underdogs in Game 1, but tonight Philadelphia made them pay for it, proving they won't just lay down for the champs.