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Celtics Win Ugly Defensive Battle Against 76ers to Advance to Miami

Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics goes to the basket during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2012 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tough defense and poor shooting on both sides kept the scoring low, but in the end, Boston turned things on to crush Philly’s hope late. As a result of an 85-75 victory, Boston moves on to face the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals, a series that will begin Monday at 8:30pm EST.

Boston started Game 7 against the 76ers strong, scoring the first six points. Philadelphia was forced to use a timeout as well after going down 10-2. However, they just couldn’t keep up the pace, with Philadelphia clawing their way back into the game, tying the game at 17 and then taking their first lead, 20-19, with 41.5 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

Boston tried to open up a lead in the 2nd Quarter, but Philadelphia, despite some scoring issues, continued to trade shots with Boston, narrowing Boston’s new lead to two, before Boston recovered their momentum late. By the end of the half, Boston took a 41-33 lead, their biggest lead of the night at the time.

Boston continued their momentum in the second half, getting their first double-digit lead, 49-38, with 8:04 left in the 3rd Quarter. Philadelphia then went on a run of their own, scoring seven straight points during a streak that saw Boston go scoreless for 3:14. The lead was pushed back to eight after that, but the Celtics couldn’t score again for the last 3:22 of the quarter, except for a buzzer beater from Kevin Garnett. Thanks to that and two huge missed free throws from Andre Iguodala, Boston was up 55-52 going into the final quarter.

It was another tight battle in the 4th before Boston started hitting some key threes. They had been 0-14 on the night from behind the arc, which would have tied the record for most threes attempted without a make in a playoff game, but Ray Allen (who struggled again throughout the game previously) finally hit a three for Boston to go up 60-54. Another three from Allen exactly four minutes later made the score 69-61.

Philadelphia continued to push, getting the lead for Boston down to three with 4:30 remaining, but a few fruitless minutes for Philadelphia allowed the Celtics to go up by ten with 2:09 left, a run capped off by a fairly deep three from Rajon Rondo.

From there, the Celtics were able to keep the 76ers at bay with free throws under an expiring game clock, and finished off a rough series. Unfortunately, an even rougher one awaits.

C’s Stud of the Game: Rajon Rondo

Another triple-double for Rajon Rondo helped push Boston to the next round. That means he was doing everything for Boston in a game that needed everything, especially after Paul Pierce fouled out.

C’s Dud of the Game: Ray Allen

The two threes were a huge help, to be sure, but that was about all Allen did for the whole night. He may be having ankle issues, but he was still missing plenty of shots he should be able to make.

But if you don’t like Allen in this category, the Celtics only got seven bench points in the game.

Tommy Talk:

“This team is really the most competitive [team] I’ve seen in years in a Celtics uniform.” – Tommy Heinsohn on Boston’s fortitude in Game 7 and the series.

Game Notes:

  • Scoring Leaders: Kevin Garnett (BOS 18), Rajon Rondo (BOS 18), Andre Iguodala (PHI 18)
  • Field Goal Leaders: Kevin Garnett (BOS 7/17), four others with six
  • Three Point Leaders: Andre Iguodala (PHI 3/5), Jrue Holiday (PHI 2/6), Ray Allen (BOS 2/7)
  • Free Throw Leaders: Rajon Rondo (BOS 5/5), Andre Iguodala (PHI 5/8), Brandon Bass (BOS 4/4), Kevin Garnett (BOS 4/6)
  • Rebound Leaders: Kevin Garnett (BOS 13), Thaddeus Young (PHI 10), Rajon Rondo (BOS 10)
  • Assist Leaders: Rajon Rondo (BOS 10), Elton Brand (PHI 6), Brandon Bass (BOS 4)
  • Steal Leaders: Jrue Holiday (PHI 5), Rajon Rondo (BOS 3), Paul Pierce (BOS 2), Kevin Garnett (BOS 2)
  • Block Leaders: Paul Pierce (BOS 3), four others with one
  • Foul-outs: Paul Pierce (BOS, 4:16 left in 4th), Elton Brand (PHI, 1:45 left in 4th)
  • Technical Fouls: none
  • Turnovers: BOS 15, PHI 15

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