Monday, May 21, 2012
Bass's Career Night Carries Celtics To One Game Away From Eastern Conference Finals
However, shame on me since Bass was the player that woke Boston up after a quiet first half tonight against the Sixers. He scored a career-high 27 points, including 18 in the decisive third quarter, as the C's beat the Sixers 101-85 in the pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at TD Garden.
Bass is the only player from either team to score in double-figures every game so far in this series but nobody could have seen this explosion coming. He even had three dunks in the third quarter, something he very rarely does.
The Big 3 improved to 8-0 in Game 5s when Boston has been tied 2-2 heading into it and they also moved to 5-1 this postseason on their home court. Most importantly, they erased the bitter taste of Game 4's choke and moved one win away from another trip in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Philadelphia controlled play for the first two quarters as they led 27-23 after one and 50-47 at halftime. Honestly, the Celts were lucky to only be down by three points since the 76ers were making seemingly every shot and Boston wasn't playing with any sense of urgency. Philly was up by six early in the third quarter before the Celtics woke up with a 14-2 run. They closed the frame on a 10-2 spurt as Bass outscored the Sixers by himself (18-16).
There would be no epic collapse by the C's tonight as they wrapped it up with a strong fourth (26-19) thanks to some rock solid defense. It also helped that Boston lived at the free throw line (26 for 33) compared to Philadelphia (10 for 16), a typical NBA byproduct of being in front of the home fans. The Sixers unraveled in the second half as it felt like they turned it over on nearly every possession. Philly's 15 turnovers led to 18 points for Boston.
Bass also had six rebounds while Kevin Garnett (20 points, 6 rebounds), Rajon Rondo (13 points, 14 assists) and Paul Pierce (16 points) all played their parts. Greg Stiemsma made the most of his minutes with 10 points and three blocks off the bench. Avery Bradley missed the game due to his shoulder injuries (plural) so Ray Allen started for him but only had five points in 33 minutes. If Bradley is out longer, the C's have to find a way to get Allen more involved in the offense.
Elton Brand had by far his best game of the series with a team-high 19 points. He picked a bad time to play like that since most of his teammates were no-shows. Lavoy Allen was the next highest scorer with 12 points off the bench. If Doug Collins is set on Brand in the starting lineup (which was rewarded tonight), maybe he should consider starting Allen over Spencer Hawes (10 points) who has been awful. Evan Turner had 11 points and 10 rebounds while Jrue Holiday scored 10 points with seven assists. Andre Iguodala was held to eight points in the loss.
We all know how much the Celtics like to make things difficult on themselves so I'm expecting them to play worse in Game 6 on Wednesday (8 p.m., TNT) in Philadelphia. Plus, the Sixers will get the benefit of the calls. Still, it would behoove the C's to wrap it up since the Western Conference Finals are set (Spurs vs. Thunder) and they need to close out Philly. No reason to give them any hope and prolong this series even further when it should already be over.