Trends abound in Celtics, Sixers matchup

Needless to say the Boston Celtics aren’t even thinking about possibly playing the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals right now. All of the Celtics’ attention is on Wednesday night’s Game 6 of their semifinal series at Philadelphia. But if Boston really wants to pull the upset of Miami in the next round, the C’s should really finish off Philly on Wednesday.

A win in Game 6 would give Boston two full days off before the East Finals might start Saturday – they will start that day if Miami beats Indiana in Game 5 on Tuesday and then Game 6 on Thursday, which I think happens. Thus, the Heat would be the team with the quick turnaround and probably wouldn’t get the injured Chris Bosh back at least for the opener of the conference finals. But if one of the conference semifinals goes seven games, then the East Finals start
Monday and those two extra days could be the difference in Miami getting Bosh back.

Betting Story Lines

There was quite the unlikely star for Boston in its 101-85 Game 5 victory on Monday as Brandon Bass came out of nowhere to score 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting and a 9-for-10 performance from the line (Boston outscored Philly 26-10 at the line). That set his career high in points and Bass outscored the 76ers by himself 18-16 in the third quarter — the most points of any player in
a postseason quarter this year — as Boston outscored the Sixers by 12 and turned a three-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead.

The key moment came with Philly holding a four-point lead and Boston’s Paul Pierce was called for a clear-path foul four minutes into the quarter. So that meant two free throws and the ball for Philadelphia. But Andre Iguodala missed the free throws and the Sixers turned the ball over. It set off a stretch in which the Sixers turned the ball over on five of their next six possessions. By the time the Sixers took their second timeout of the period with 4:48 left, the Celtics were up by six points and wouldn’t trail again.

The team that has won the third quarter has won every game so far in this series.

Bass was averaging 10.1 points and shooting 43 percent for the playoffs. He hadn’t scored more than 22 points in a game this season. His playoff high was 19 points, in 2008. The Celtics had seven different leading scorers in a game this season, but Bass wasn’t one of them until Game 5.

Philadelphia’s Elton Brand, who has been playing through a sore neck and shoulder, scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the first half, when the Sixers led by three due to making 54.8 percent (23-for-42) of their shots. Brand had not scored more than seven points in a game since the opener of the Bulls series. Iguodala, who has been battling Achilles’ tendinitis, said the injury
bothered him more in Game 5 than it had in previous games. He had just eight points and six rebounds. The Sixers shot only 37.1 percent in the second half of Game 5.

Perhaps the result was no surprise as the core of this Celtics team had gone 7-0 in Game 5s of series that were dead even. And it somewhat made up for Boston blowing an 18-point second- half lead in losing Game 4.

Boston played Game 5 without second-year shooting guard Avery Bradley, who already has become one of the NBA’s best defenders at his position. Bradley dislocated his left shoulder for the third time this postseason during Friday’s Game 4 loss. And he’s now experiencing discomfort in his right shoulder as well. Thus, it’s very ‘iffy’ he plays in Game 6. Ray Allen started for the first time since April 4 and wasn’t much of a factor with five points.

Next in line behind Allen are guards Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling, who combined for three points in 29 minutes.

Look for the fans in Philly to be very riled up for Game 6. Not only is it possibly the final game of the season, but Kevin Garnett took a shot at the Philly fans after Game 5. When comparing fans in Boston to those in Philly, KG said: “Not even close. You got fans and then you got fair-weather fans. Take that how you want.”

Trends

Celtics were 16-16-1 ATS on road this season, while the ‘under’ was 16-5-2. In playoffs: 3-2 and 3-2, respectively. Sixers were 17-16 ATS at home, while the ‘under’was 22-11. In playoffs: 3-2 and 3-2, respectively.

Boston is 1-4 ATS in its past five games after an ATS win. The Celtics are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after a straight-up win. The Sixers are 5-2 in their past seven as a favorite. The over is 7-0 in Philly’s past seven after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game. The over is 6-1 in the past seven meetings. Boston has covered just once in the past six trips to Philly.

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