The Celtics shot a horrid 33 percent from the field, and that was an improvement over where they were earlier in the game. Paul Pierce had 24 points for the Celtics and five Sixers scored in double figures for the winners, if there can be said to be any winners in this debacle.
Fourth quarter, :38.7, Sixers 78-72: Aaaaaaaand that'll do it. Allen got a great look at a three that would have halved the deficit, but the shot bounced off. Iguodala to the line, shooting two.
Fourth quarter, :48.1, Sixers 78-72: It would take an absolute miracle for the Celtics to win this game. They were betting on that miracle, taking their third-to-last timeout and hoping to make something happen.
Fourth quarter, 1:51, Sixers 78-69: Every little bit the Celtics seemed to chip away, the Sixers had an answer.
Allen hit a three and Garnett hit a long jumper to pull within seven points, but Iguodala drove and found Brand for a short baseline jumper to restore a nine-point lead. The Celtics do not seem to have enough bodies to keep up with the Sixers unless their execution was flawless. At 24-for-73 from the field with 17 turnovers, the Celtics were far from flawless.
Fourth quarter, 3:49, Sixers 74-65: Feel confident saying this one is going back to Boston.
The Sixers had their chance, but a 3-pointer by Pietrus that would have cut the Celtics' deficit to four points clanked away. The Celtics were 1-for-10 from beyond the arc with less than four minutes to go.
Fourth quarter, 6:06, Sixers 70-63: If Philadelphia fans really are fair-weather, the Celtics gave them a lot of reason to hop onto the Sixers' bandwagon.
The Celtics' putrid shooting did not improve in the fourth quarter, when they shot 2-for-7 in the first six minutes. This game was not out of reach yet, but it felt that way.
Fourth quarter, 8:43, Sixers 67-59: The Celtics must really love to play basketball, because any opportunity they have had to shorten this series, they have almost always given it away.
Holiday scored two straight buckets to push the Sixers' lead to eight points, the biggest it had been in the second half. The Celtics simply do not have any healthy, usable shooting guards. Allen can barely stand and Pietrus and Dooling have been ineffective.
End of third quarter, Sixers 60-56: The Sixers won the third quarter, so therefore they were going to win the game decisively.
The Sixers outscored the Celtics 27-20 in a disastrous third quarter for Boston. The Celtics shot 6-for-19, which actually qualified as a shooting spree by their standards in this game. They handed the ball over six times and committed eight fouls.
Garnett finally seemed to get going with a pair of jumpers, but the Celtics could not defend or score consistently. If you're new to basketball, here's a hint: That is not good.
Third quarter, 2:55, Sixers 53-48: Some games feature clinics on how to shoot. This game has been a clinic on how not to shoot.
The Celtics were down to 29 percent from the field — 15-for-56 — for the game and 3-for-15 for the quarter. The biggest culprits were Bass, who was 2-for-12, and Garnett, who was 3-for-11.
Yet the Sixers could not pull away because they were getting owned on the boards and they could not knock down their free throws. Boston held a 34-26 rebounding advantage and was a perfect 15-for-15 from the stripe, while Philly was 11-for-20 at the line.
Third quarter, 5:52, game tied 46-46: Whoa, Iguodala can jump. Iggy somehow out-jumped a series of Celtics defenders before flushing it down over Pierce. The and-one free throw gave the Sixers a five-point lead and set off the crowd, but the Celtics quickly wiped it out. Rondo scored on a putback and Pierce, the only Boston player to truly play well to this point, scored a tough three-point play the old-fashioned way.
The Celtics need to watch their foul situation, though. Allen had four while Pierce and Bass had three each. Iguodala was the only key Sixers player with more than two personals.
Halftime, Celtics 36-33: Somehow, after shooting 32 percent, the Celtics held a three-point lead at halftime.
The two teams shot 27-for-75 combined from the field, with the Sixers following a strong shooting performance in the first quarter with a 5-for-18 brickfest in the second quarter. Mickael Pietrus finally canned the first 3-pointer of the first half when he drained his third trey attempt with 0.5 seconds left in the first half.
The Good: Paul Pierce was not about to let Andre Iguodala get the best of him in this game. Pierce hit three of his five shots and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line for a game-high 11 points. … Elton Brand was active for the second straight game, although his stat line was not as impressive. He had five points and was tied with Kevin Garnett with a game-high six rebounds.
The Bad: There was plenty of bad to go around on both sides, and we won't pick on Ray Allen, who was clearly playing hurt. Brandon Bass was off to a rough shooting night, missing seven of his first nine shots and picking up two fouls. Lou Williams, who the Sixers rely on to provide instant offense off the bench, was 1-for-5 from the field. His three assists were wiped out by two turnovers.
The So-so: Rajon Rondo never really asserted himself, missing all but one of his five shots and dishing out only three assists. It is not often you see the Celtics out-assisted in any half, but they were in the first half by Philly 10-6.
Second quarter, 3:45, Celtics 31-28: Give Allen credit for trying to play, but he was far from helpful for the Celtics. He had no burst on his right ankle and no lift on his shot. Allen missed both shots he took in the second quarter and picked up his third personal foul when he was called for an offensive foul for running over Holiday.
Second quarter, 6:10, Celtics 29-28: The Sixers could not have been happy about being down by one point after a quarter and a half. They held the Celtics to 37 percent shooting and limited Rondo to zero assists, yet a combination of turnovers, missed free throws and failure on the glass (they trailed 15-12 in that category) combined to keep the Celtics in the game. The Celtics should have been on life support, not pushing to possibly hold the lead at halftime.
Second quarter, 7:57, Sixers 28-23: This is some shoddy-looking offensive basketball, folks.
The Celtics were 8-for-25 from the field, and boo target Garnett did not get on the scoreboard until 30 seconds into the second quarter. If not for forcing six Philly turnovers and the Sixers missing four of their eight free throws, the Celtics would have been far behind the Sixers, who hit 12 of their first 20 shots.
Ray Allen was really struggling. The Sixers went right at him at both ends of the court, trapping as soon as he dribbled and trying to break him down on the dribble with whoever he was guarding.
End of first quarter, Sixers 22-19: There was good news and bad news for the Celtics in the first quarter.
The good news was they got 13 points combined from Pierce and Bass. The bad news was they shot 6-for-19, Rondo did not seem to be as aggressive he has been early in some of his best games, and that Greg Stiemsma looked to be having a tough time. He got caught in no-man's land on a screen and roll and had to switch onto Williams, who pump-faked and drew Stiemsma into a classic pump-fake, lean-in foul move.
Jrue Holiday, who Sixers coach Doug Collins has said he wants to be more aggressive, scored six points while Lavoy Allen continued to be the X-factor in this series with his defense and surprising midrange shooting.
First quarter, 3:19, Sixers 15-12: The Joey Crawford-led officiating crew had a rough 90 seconds or so there. Bass appeared to get hacked on a drive to the hoop, and Lou Williams dropped the ball after losing his dribble and appeared to pick it back up before anyone else touched it. Elton Brand, off to another strong start in this game, then looked like he traveled on the break.
That was a defensive foul, and double dribble and a travel all not called. Oh, Joey.
First quarter, 5:16, Sixers 11-10: Fueled by their fans, the Sixers came out with considerable energy. Evan Turner connected with Andre Iguodala for an alley-oop dunk to open the scoring, then overthrew Iggy on another oop attempt a short time later.
The Sixers were unable to really put any distance between themselves and the Celtics, though. Ray Allen picked up his second foul quickly and had to go to the bench after hitting two of his first three shots.
8:09 p.m.: OK, that got the blood pumping.
Iverson presented the game ball before tip-off, drawing an "MVP" chant from the fans. Drawing off that energy, they have a hearty "Let's go Sixers" chant when Garnett and the Sixers took the court.
8:05 p.m.: Anybody who thought Garnett's "fair-weather" comments about Philadelphia fans had any real effect, you were wrong.
Garnett was booed, as expected, when he was introduced with the Celtics' starters, but Paul Pierce — who was highly complimentary of the Sixers after the last game — might have been booed even more loudly.
The lesson: It didn't matter what Garnett said. The fans were going to boo the Celtics in a pivotal Game 6, with their team's season on the line. End of story.
7:45 p.m.: Even Garnett had to be expecting something a little more emphatic than the light booing he received when he and the Celtics took the court for warm-ups.
The quarter-full crowd at the Wells Fargo Center booed, but did not produce anything deafening, when the Celtics jogged out from under the stands. The boos mostly died out by the time Garnett, the last in the line, jogged out.
Maybe the fans were just saving their boos for lineup introductions.
7:16 p.m.: As expected Bradley will miss this game, and it is sounding increasingly doubtful that his sabbatical could be much, much longer.
Allen is expected to start at shooting guard for the second straight game.
The probable starters appear below.
6:14 p.m.: Avery Bradley received only three votes, and one first-team vote, for the NBA All-Defensive Team, the league announced Wednesday. Those results are… interesting.
Bradley probably did not merit a first- or second-team spot, since his playing time was inconsistent until mid-March. Still, it was surprising that he placed only ninth among guards in the voting.
5:51 p.m.: The Celtics and Sixers are facing off in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, so it is only right that Allen Iverson would make an appearance. We assume he won't be talkin' about practice this time.
Iverson was invited by the Sixers to Wednesday's game at the Wells Fargo Center, which was known as the CoreStates Center and the First Union Center in Iverson's playing days. Which will be louder: The cheers for Iverson or the boos for Garnett?
8 a.m. ET: The only thing that has been predictable about this playoff series is that it was been completely unpredictable.
The Celtics and Sixers return to Philadelphia for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Wednesday, with Boston holding a 3-2 lead in the series. The Celtics are coming off a convincing victory on Monday, but momentum has not carried over from game to game, so nothing is assured in this one.
The status of Avery Bradley and Ray Allen remains uncertain, tightening the Celtics' already paper-thin margin for error.
Join us for updates and analysis from the Wells Fargo Center during the game, which tips off at 8 p.m.