Game 1 win slips through Sixers’ fingers
OBSERVATIONS FROM THE SIXERS’ 92-91 GAME 1 LOSS TO THE CELTICS
1. This one hurts: If the 76ers were going to steal a game in Boston, this was the one. The Celtics came out extremely flat and the Sixers’ jumpers were falling in the first half. They led by 13 points at one juncture in the second quarter and were in complete control. Andre Iguodala carried the momentum over from his heroic performance on Thursday night, scoring 10 points in the first quarter.
2. Containing Garnett: The Celtics run the pick-and-roll better as well as anyone in the NBA. Except they don’t roll. Kevin Garnett sets the high screen and then pops, setting himself up for a jumper. That jumper has been on fire all season and it was the difference on Saturday night, as he had a game-high 29 points. The Sixers’ defense is set up to double the point guard on pick-and-pops, but adjustments will have to be made before Monday’s Game 2.
3. Championship pedigree: The way Game 1 played out is almost how the Celtics script it. They coast along most of the way, keeping their heads above water. Then when it comes to winning time, they turn up the defense and run through their Big Four on offense. The Sixers struggled in close games all regular season and this entire series figures to come down to fourth quarters.
4. Ahoy, Lavoy: Second-round rookie Lavoy Allen’s performance was eye-opening. He had 12 points and six rebounds in just 19 minutes, showing no fear of the moment whatsoever. If nothing else, the Sixers have found a solid rotation player in the Temple product.
BOTTOM LINE: The Sixers showed in Game 1 that they are certainly not overmatched by any stretch of the imagination. Their normal weak point is rebounding, but the Celtics are even worse in that facet. Garnett is no longer a banger inside, so Spencer Hawes isn’t uncomfortable. Andre Iguodala has owned Paul Pierce for some time now, and on Saturday Pierce was 3-for-11 from the field. Having this one slip through their fingers hurts, but confidence was gained.