BOSTON- Game five of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics could be a game for the ages. Philadelphia’s 103-92 victory last night is more than just a win. Defeating Boston and avoiding elimination is the first step to improbable history, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to advance to the next round.
If the Celtics had Kyrie Irving and Gordon Heyward, this series would be over by now. However, the 76ers have a chance to regroup, go over game film, assess what went right, and apply that knowledge to game five. This series is far from over.
Boston still has the advantage of potentially closing out the series at home, so Philadelphia needs to be ready to deal with the crowd and play a rugged, physical game. The 76ers must be ready to win the turnover battle and create as many fast break opportunities as possible. Starting out fast and making sure the T.D. Garden is as quiet as bunch of crickets will be a critical part of winning game five.
Forward Dario Saric must have another strong offensive showing. He scored 25 points in Philadelphia’s game four win and this must be a point of emphasis. Saric must score at least 25 points in this game. Also, Joel Embiid show try to score more points. If he scores 20 or more points in addition to another excellent performance from Saric, the Celtics strong defense may have a rough night. It would be nice if J.J. Reddick hits a lot of three pointers to really help out.
Make no mistake, dealing with the Celtics swarming defense, road crowd and pressure of facing elimination makes this nearly impossible. The odds are so far against Philadelphia that the mere mention of making history seems audacious. There is also the intelligence level of Brad Stevens, who could be the best coach in the NBA. However, the 76ers offense can make big things happen. It also goes without saying that the 76ers must limit the Celtics to scoring no more than 95 points.
No team in NBA history overcame a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs. The series currently stand at Boston leading 3-1. However, Philadelphia just won the super bowl so anything is possible. It’s important to avoid counting the 76ers out so quickly.