Final: Celtics 102, Sixers 101. Kevin Garnett gets a mismatch on the final play, and he capitalizes, driving past Jrue Holiday for a layup to win the ballgame. The Celtics have pulled off their ninth consecutive victory in dramatic fashion.
The C's win by a single point, and their winning streak survives on KG's dramatic game winner. The Big Ticket finishes with 14 points and six rebounds, while Ray Allen overshadows him with a 23-point night, making back-to-back big scoring games for him. Rajon Rondo drops another double-double with 19 points and 14 assists.
Jodie Meeks leads the Sixers with 21 points, while Andre Iguodala adds 14 points and 11 assists. It's just barely not enough.
The Celtics have Friday off to travel to Charlotte, where they'll take on the Bobcats on Saturday night.
Fourth quarter, 6.6 seconds, Sixers 101-100: Andre Iguodala just crushed the Celtics' hopes and dreams. The Sixers have retaken the lead.
Now it's the Celtics' turn — one last shot with the game on the line. Who gets the ball? Will it be Ray Allen with the hot hand, or Paul Pierce with a shot at redemption after an off night?
Fourth quarter, 11.1 seconds, Celtics 100-99: The Celtics had a foul to give, and Paul Pierce gives it.
The Sixers get the ball back, and they've got one last shot to shock the Celtics and win this thing.
Fourth quarter, 27.4 seconds, Celtics 100-99: The Sixers retake the lead on an Andre Iguodala jumper, but Glen Davis quickly snatches it right back. By my (very much unofficial) count, that's 12 lead changes in this fourth quarter.
Whoever gets a stop first wins. Will it be the Celtics? They've got a chance here.
Fourth quarter, 1:04, Celtics 98-97: Ray Allen saves the day. The Sixers' defense collapses on Paul Pierce, Pierce kicks it out to Big Baby, and Baby finds Ray Allen wide open for a wing 3. The Celtics are back on top.
Ray started slow but now has 23 points, including the Celtics' last seven.
Fourth quarter, 1:45, Sixers 97-95: Jodie Meeks hits another huge 3, and Elton Brand knocks down a jumper in the waning seconds of the shot clock, putting the Sixers up four.
Ray Allen gets to the line. He's money, especially when it counts. Back to a one-possession ballgame.
Fourth quarter, 2:43, Celtics 93-92: Jodie Meeks attacks the basket and gets two, thanks to an Andre Iguodala assist. It's been a solid night for Meeks, who now has 16 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting clip.
The Celtics are still in control, but Doc Rivers has called a timeout to make sure his guys stay focused defensively. They need to keep getting stops.
Fourth quarter, 3:43, Celtics 93-90: The Celtics just suffocated the Sixers into a shot clock violation. Big, big stop for the C's. They've really turned it on defensively in the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, 5:52, Sixers 88-87: This game has reached a bit of a standstill. Only the two young power forwards, Thaddeus Young and Glen Davis, are able to get anything going.
For the most part, both teams have been really airtight defensively.
The C's haven't scored in almost three minutes.
They would love for Paul Pierce to turn it on in the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, 8:29, Celtics 87-86: You can't say enough about the little things Rajon Rondo does for this offense.
Rondo drives to the basket, the Sixers' defense collapses, and Thaddeus Young slacks off of Glen Davis. Rondo kicks out to Big Baby, Baby knocks down the mid-range jumper, and the Celtics retake the lead at 87-86.
Rondo's got another double-double, 19 points and 12 assists. Typical. Baby has 14 points despite playing limited minutes due to foul trouble.
Fourth quarter, 10:37, Sixers 82-81: Thaddeus Young continues to attack the basket for the Sixers. He's got 12 points in limited minutes off the bench for the Sixers. Just a tremendous outing for him.
Young is playing like what Glen Davis is when fully healthy.
The C's could really use that Big Baby right about now.
End of third quarter, Celtics 81-80: No one ever figured Rajon Rondo for a 3-point assassin, but Rondo just knocked down an incredible shot at the buzzer of the third quarter, giving the Celtics a one-point lead.
It's a 9-2 run for the C's to close the quarter. They're now in the driver's seat with 12 minutes to play.
Third quarter, 2:39, Sixers 78-72: The Sixers push their lead to eight, their biggest all night, but Ray Allen trims it back to six with a mid-range jumper.
Doug Collins calls for a timeout. He's got to tell his youngsters not to get complacent now. The Celtics still have plenty of time to erase this deficit, and you never want to doubt a team on an eight-game winning streak.
Third quarter, 4:04, Sixers 72-70: The Sixers are starting to miss shots, and the Celtics are getting a steady stream of offense from Paul Pierce. They're still alive and well.
But they've still got to keep stringing stops together. The Sixers have too many athletes that can score, they're not about to roll over and die.
Third quarter, 6:22, Sixers 72-66: It's raining 3s, and the Celtics are getting drenched.
Jodie Meeks knocks down back-to-back trifectas in a hurry, turning a tie ballgame into a six-point Philly lead. He's now got a game-high 13 points from out of nowhere.
The Celtics need to work harder. Contest those shots. Don't give them anything easy.
Third quarter, 7:56, Sixers 66-63: Andre Iguodala has had a shaky shooting night, 2-for-8 so far, but he gets a big three-point play here to put Philly back on top.
This Sixers team is deep enough that they can overcome an off-night from one of their scorers. If A.I. is off, they have guys like Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young that can step up.
They might have one weapon too many for the Celtics to handle. The C's still look sluggish and lazy defensively. Back-to-backs will do that.
Third quarter, 10:03, Celtics 61-58: We're starting to see signs of life from Ray Allen. The C's shooting guard gets into the lane and hits a driving layup, drawing a foul and finishing the three-point play.
The C's need Ray to contribute offensively in this second half. Without Shaq in this one, they need all the weapons they can find.
Halftime, Celtics 56-55: Considering how weak their play has been for the past 24 minutes, it's a miracle the Celtics have a lead, on the road, on the second night of a back-to-back.
But the C's have gotten 10 points each from Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, and they sprint into the lead late in the first half with a crazy shooting spree from Nate Robinson.
The Sixers have gotten bunches of points everywhere they've looked, but they've been led by Elton Brand with eight points and six boards. His presence on the block has kept them close despite the Celtics' hot shooting.
Second quarter, 2:49, 51-51: Nate Robinson has drained three 3-pointers in the last six minutes, carrying the Celtics back into this game.
The C's were expecting one of their Big Three to step up and give them an offensive jolt, but that hasn't happened. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are still sleepwalking through this one, but Nate has come alive. The Celtics really needed it.
Second quarter, 4:16, Sixers 49-45: An uncharacteristic mental mistake from Ray Allen — the Celtics' guard has an easy rebound off a Jodie Meeks miss, but he drops it out of bounds. The Sixers get it back.
That's the way this night has gone for the Celtics. The small, lazy mistakes are adding up, and the C's are losing to a team they should be handling easily.
They need to get their focus back before it's too late.
Second quarter, 6:19, Sixers 43-41: Rajon Rondo has quietly piled up eight points and five assists. He hasn't been aggressive as a scorer, just letting the offense come to him.
He might want to step it up a little bit. Shaq is out, and both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have looked sluggish. The Celtics need one more weapon.
Second quarter, 8:16, Sixers 41-37: When the Sixers are knocking down 3-pointers, they're really tough to beat.
Lou Williams becomes the third Sixer to knock one down from long range, joining starting guards Holiday and Meeks. The Sixers are now a perfectly respectable 3-for-7 as a team from downtown.
The Celtics are hoping they can ride KG's mid-range jumper back into this game. It seems to be all they've got.
Second quarter, 9:30, Sixers 34-32: Semih Erden already had two fouls. Now Big Baby has three. This is really bad for the Celtics.
Doc Rivers will have to go small for the next nine minutes. He has pretty much no other choice.
End of first quarter, Sixers 32-29: The Sixers have been dominant at home this season, and it's clear to see why. Their offense is explosive. Unstoppably so.
Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala are getting to the basket and attacking at will. But it's Spencer Hawes, of all people, who leads the Sixers with nine points. The Sixers just have too many weapons right now.
Kevin Garnett is leading the C's so far with eight points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal.
KG's playing the complete game. Maybe his teammates should join him.
First quarter, 2:17, Celtics 27-25: The Celtics have rattled off a quick 6-0 lead to take their first lead.
They're now shooting an absurdly efficient 11-of-15 from the field so far in this game. The score is ugly high so far, but it's not for any lack of effort by the Sixers — the C's are just shooting the lights out.
Doc Rivers need to make sure the ball movement and the unselfish offense continues once the second unit takes over.
First quarter, 4:54, Sixers 23-19: Andre Iguodala just buried a ridiculous dunk, coming out of nowhere to grab an Elton Brand miss and slam it back in with one hand. He pushes the Sixers' lead back to four; Doc Rivers buries his head in his hands on the Boston bench.
The Celtics have yet to figure it out defensively. Doc might need to light a fire under them.
First quarter, 6:49, Sixers 17-11: Jrue Holiday has been killing it early for the Sixers. He's got eight points on 2-of-3 shooting, plus 3-for-4 from the line.
Rajon Rondo has to be on his toes — even if they hurt. He's got to be quick with the lateral movement to stay with Holiday, who knows how to blaze to the basket and score.
First quarter, 9:21, Sixers 7-4: The Sixers' defense has been bloody near impenetrable early. Without the big presence of Shaq inside, the Celtics have been hard-pressed to get the ball into the post, and they're stuck with jump shots. It's not working for them.
If the C's are going to win this game, they'll have to do it with ball movement and efficient open jumpers.
First quarter, 11:32, Celtics 2-0: Semih Erden just channeled his inner Shaq to open the game, throwing down an emphatic two-handed dunk.
Who needs a 15-time All-Star when you've got the Turkish kid?
7:45 p.m.: Surprise! It won't be Glen Davis after all starting in place of the injured Shaquille O'Neal. Doc has decided to go with Semih Erden instead.
Semih arrived in Boston this summer as the Celtics' fourth-string center, but now he's making the first start of his NBA career. No one could have seen this coming.
The Turkish kid gives the Celtics length and energy up front, giving them an edge on the glass against Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand. He's got a chance to prove himself, getting more minutes now than ever.
7 p.m.: The apocalypse is finally upon us — Doc Rivers will have zero O'Neals in uniform for the first time on Thursday night. Shaquille O'Neal is out with calf pain, and the Celtics will be forced to go largely center-less against the host 76ers.
It's going to be a younger, more active, more energetic lineup than you're used to seeing from the C's. You'll see lots of Glen Davis, lots of Semih Erden, and likely lots of Doc going small out of necessity.
For the longest time, we feared this day would come, and now it's arrived.
5:30 p.m.: When does a trap game become even trappier? When you're banged up and would love a night to rest.
The Celtics are battling tons of minor injuries, from their starters (Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal) to their reserves (Nate Robinson, Glen Davis). They'd no doubt love to take the second half off, enjoy a blowout win, and keep their legs fresh.
But even against the unimpressive Sixers, the Celtics can't take a blowout win for granted.
The C's need to come out in the first quarter and make a statement. They need to start strong.
11:45 a.m.: Back in the old days, Shaquille O'Neal and Elton Brand were rivals. Shaq was a Laker, Brand was a Clipper, and the two were vying for the title of best big man in Southern California.
Shaq won that fight, and he won three rings in L.A., too. But what comes next is another chapter in the rivalry — their first meeting as Eastern Conference foes. Shaq's Celtics and Brand's Philadelphia 76ers will do battle at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.
The Celtics have won eight straight games. The Sixers have won four of their last five. Both teams are red-hot, but when they meet up, something's got to give.
Whose bigs will be biggest?
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