Celts-Sixers squeaker lives up to tradition, forebodes playoff tilt?

Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Image
While there’s no doubt that the NBA has long been a star-driven league and the franchise that can accumulate the biggest and most elaborate “toy chest” of talent seems to come out on top, there remains a place in the game for strategizing.

Coach Brad Stevens made an interesting choice during the close-out to Thursday’s slugfest with archrival Philadelphia – one might wonder if his team’s playing its second game in as many nights factored into the decision.

On the heels of consecutive defensive stops and a Gordon Hayward jumper that had swiftly sliced a nine-point edge to two, Coach chose to play the “foul game” … rather than entrust the game to his defense? (It didn’t help the “look” when Ben Simmons went two-for-two, including what would prove to be the decisive point.)

Despite the aesthetically-unpleasing “look,” the scheme seemed to be panning out until a careless and costly turnover on an inbounds pass threw a monkey-wrench into the proceedings – costing the C’s a chance to tie the game with a three-ball.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Losing should never be allowed to feel acceptable …

… but my gut is telling me that this week’s two-game skid is more “stepping-stone” than “stumbling-block” – call me Pollyanna.

Game 24 vs Philadelphia

Boston 109

FG: C’s – 42-91, .462
3FG: C’s – 11-31, .355
FT: C’s – 14-17, .824 [6 conversions]
TS%: C’s – .553
OR: C’s – 9 + 3 (team) [minus 0 FT rebounds]
DR: C’s – 24 + 4 (team) [minus 1 FT rebound]
TO: C’s – 6 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 91 {43 “Empty”}
PPP: C’s – 1.198
CV%: C’s – 48 / 91, .527
Stripes: C’s – 8 [4 conversions]
Adjusted CV%: C’s – 52 / 91, .571 {expected production, 104 points}

Philadelphia 115

FG: Phil – 41-82, .500
3FG: Phil – 14-28, .500
FT: Phil – 19-23, .826 [11 conversions]
TS%: Phil – .624
OR: Phil – 8 + 6 (team) [minus 0 FT rebounds]
DR: Phil – 37 + 2 (team) [minus 2 FT rebounds]
TO: Phil – 11 + 1 (team)
Poss: Phil – 91 {39 “Empty”}
PPP: Phil – 1.264
CV%: Phil – 52 / 91, .571
Stripes: Phil – 10 [5 conversions]
Adjusted CV%: Phil – 57 / 91, .626 {expected production, 114 points}

Note re Calculation & Notation:

The number of “possessions” is an accurate count, not a formula-based estimated value. For purposes of clarity, the bracketed digit following the FT% is the exact count of “conversions” represented by those FTA’s.

“Possessions” calculation: FGA’s + FT conversions + TO’s – OR’s (including Team OR’s) – FT OR’s

“Conversions” calculation: FG’s + FT conversions

“Stripes” calculation: 3FG’s – missed FTA’s

TS% = True Shooting Percentage

PPP = Points per Possession

CV% = Conversion Percentage

Abacus Revelation for the Road

Unlike most hoop fans who view Celtics vs. Lakers as the be-all-and-end-all of rivalries, I believe that this long one-sided bi-coastal brouhaha pales in competitive substance as well as tradition when compared to the “basketball battles” of the Celtic and Sixer franchises.

On the afternoon of Sunday May 23, 1982, a Boston Garden crowd of which I was a part created a new way to spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T. As the inevitability of a Game 7 loss in the ECF set in, there arose a theretofore unfamiliar chant, at first faintly but soon filling the arena – Beat LA, Beat LA!

Quite fittingly, Dr. J pooh-poohed the whole thing, claiming the chanting at the end of Game 5 the prior Wednesday had been much louder … following Bird & Co’s Game 5 win that had reduced their deficit to three-games-to-two, the Garden Partyers had sent Philly to its locker room with a chorus of “See You Sunday!”

Here’s my historical look at the rivalry, including some tales that date back to the days of the Syracuse Nationals.