Boston vs. Philadelphia has been an ugly, difficult series to watch for fans of pretty, offensive-minded basketball, but there’s nothing in sports like a Game 7.
The teams will meet Saturday for all of the marbles with the Celtics finally aiming to put away the pesky Sixers.
Through six games, they have alternated wins, with Boston going up a game three times and allowing the Sixers to claw back repeatedly.
Boston will have to win again without Avery Bradley and while his loss isn’t a massive one against the offensively dismal Sixers, it will be should the favourites move forward.
Bradley, like Rajon Rondo is a premier perimeter defender. He would have been great to have around against Dwyane Wade should a Boston-Miami rematch be in the cards.
Instead, Bradley is expected to undergo season-ending surgery to repair small tears in his shoulder.
What does Boston need to do to advance?
1) Attack inside. Brandon Bass went off in Game 5 for 27 points, most of them down low but went 2-for-12 the next time out. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett did not even attempt a shot in the paint in Game 6. That needs to change.
2) Ease up on the turnovers. The Celtics only had seven turnovers in an earlier blowout win, but have been averaging twice as many the rest of the series. Rondo will make mistakes, that’s the price for all the good things he does, but the number must come down.
What can the Sixers do to up their chances?
1) Run, run, run. Rondo aside, Boston’s old. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are a bit hobbled. The young, quick, athletic Sixers must push the pace. If Rondo wants to run with them, that’s fine, the rest of the Celtics won’t be able to keep up.
2) Get back on track from deep. Philadelphia was lucky to win Game 6 after shooting just 1-for-9 from three. In the other games, the Sixers have hit five treys three times, eight one game and three the other on 41.3% shooting (26-for-63).
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Not quite sure how this happens, but NBA coaches left defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler off of the all-defensive first team. LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, Tony Allen and Chris Paul comprised the first group, while Chandler joined Rajon Rondo, Kobe Bryant, Luol Deng and Kevin Garnett on the second team. Ibaka over Chandler was just silly (blocks aren’t everything, defensive positioning matters — a lot), and Kobe over Andre Iguodala is a real head scratcher as well.
SUMMER LEAGUE SET
The field is set for the 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
A record 24 teams, including the Raptors, will compete from July 13-22.
The event was wiped out last year due to the lockout.
Jonas Valanciunas is not expected to play for Toronto unless Lithuania surprisingly does not make the London Olympics, but the team has a high first-round pick in 2013 and two second-rounders that would compete, barring a trade.
Each team will play five games.
NO DIESEL RETURN
Unfortunately — for those who love comedy, not Magic fans — Shaquille O’Neal will not be interviewing for the position of general manager.
The situation had hilarity written all over it, but O’Neal wisely said he was happy with his TV gig.
Shaq left the Magic high and dry, becoming the best free-agent signing ever, and the team is trying to avoid going down that road again with Dwight Howard. The pair have had their issues in the past — Shaq believes he’s the only “Superman” in the NBA, but reports say they are now close and Howard has sought out advice from the future hall of famer.
Given the circus around Howard throughout this season, his advice clearly wasn’t of the sound variety.
Vince Carter didn’t get Julius Erving in Toronto and left. Will a bitter Howard now follow suit or will Orlando name another Howard favourite its next GM?
AROUND THE RIM
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said the team is open “to all possibilities” and “there will be some change.” It’s hard to see Pau Gasol returning and a huge play likely will be made for Howard involving either Gasol, Andrew Bynum, or — if the Lakers get desperate enough — both. Bynum intends to undergo the same breakthrough knee procedure that Bryant did last summer. Bynum has battled knee issues in the past but says he is healthy. He intends to have the surgery because of how great Bryant said he felt after undergoing it ... Speaking of the Lakers, all-time great Jerry West had this to say to ESPN Radio about his former team: “Their team is not dead, but they’re not one of the four best teams in the league, I don’t think, anymore,” West said ... Whispers persist that high-priced swingmen Rudy Gay and Iguodala could be on the market this season as their teams try to cut costs. The Raptors have said they could use their favourable cap situation to trade for talent rather than sign free agents outright ... Tony Parker says he will “go at” Russell Westbrook in an attempt to slow down the talented guard at the other end. Sounds like a wise call, but the rub is Parker might not have the energy to take Westbrook on after chasing him at the other end.