Three things we learned last night in the Celtics 101-85 victory over the 76ers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series:
Who stepped up?
The news wasn’t good for Boston before the game: Starting shooting guard and defensive specialist Avery Bradley would miss the game. That meant Ray Allen would start, but more importantly, an already thin Celtics bench just got thinner.
Philadelphia’s bench has been dependable all season, but the disparity between the two benches last night was just seven points in Philly’s favor (27-to-20). For Philly to compete, they need more from Lou Williams (3-of-10, nine points) and Thaddeus Young (3-of-8, six points). Boston held them down, and that was a big reason as to why it pulled away down the stretch.
Bass is big
You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who called Brandon Bass a Sixers-killer prior to last night, but low and behold, he was. Bass went off on Philly in the third quarter, dropping 18 points in that quarter alone. He did it with dunks, he did it with jump shots, and he helped awaken a Boston crowd that was relatively quiet for the first two-and-a-half quarters. Bass finished the night with 27 points, going 9-of-13 from the field and 9-of-10 from the line, while grabbing six rebounds.
Elton Brand had 19 points of his own in this one, but he was just one of the Sixers with no answer for Bass on the other end.
Philly’s time to respond (again)
With their win in Boston, the Celtics head to Philadelphia with a chance to end the series tomorrow night. The question, though, is how will each team come out?
Two of Boston’s three wins have come in blowout fashion, but the 76ers’ comeback win in Game 4 is perhaps the most impressive – depending on who you ask, of course. Philadelphia was thought to have believed in themselves after that game, but it was tough to see that resonate during the fourth quarter when Doug Collins was pleading with them to keep their heads up. Boston smells blood.