When the Celtics pulled out to a 14-0 lead, I think we were all thinking the same thing: This is over. Both the game, and the series. The 76ers had been demoralized and beaten into submission. It was only a matter of playing out the remainder of the series.
Maybe the Celtics felt the same thing, because they gradually let their intensity peter out. The 76ers turned things around in the 3rd quarter. The Celtics didn't hit a field goal for the first 7 minutes. Philadelphia went on a 13-2 run and were suddenly within striking distance entering the 4th quarter.
But still, these are the Celtics. The veteran team. The ones with Championship experience. They'd prevail in a close 4th quarter. Right?
All the Celtics should want to forget what they did in the 4th quarter. Intercepted passes (4 of them), KG's travelling, missed shots, bad decisions on shots. They allowed the 76ers to get 6 offensive rebounds in the 4th. That's more than the Celtics had the entire game (5).
Kevin Garnett had a horrible 4th quarter. He had a horrible game. Only 3 for 12 shooting.
The Celtics lost their composure. Maybe the 76ers got under their skin with some rough play in the 3rd. Maybe the Celtics tried so hard not to engage in such shenanigans, that they lost their focus and intensity. Whatever the reason, the Celtics didn't play Celtics basketball in the 4th. At least, they didn't execute Celtics basketball in the 4th.
I'm tired of watching Ray Allen flying in the air, his flight path perpendicular to the shot, trying to make desperate jumpers with plenty of time on the shot-clock. He did that in Game 2, and he had an ugly looking 26 foot attempt in Game 4. He's trying to be Derek Jeter or something, throwing off-balance in mid-air, across his body.
The Celtics seem too committed to getting Allen the ball in certain situations. And I don't like that. If the shot isn't there, it isn't there. There needs to be a Plan B.
Ray Allen might be the least criticized athlete in Boston. He's quiet. He just does his job. And since he's "a shooter," it's understood that he'll go through cold streaks. He was cold Friday night. 2 for 6 from the field, 1 for 4 with his three-pointers, and the Celtics were an abysmal -24 when he was on the floor.
The bench as a whole didn't contribute much. With Garnett missing his shots, they could have used a strong bench performance. That's more on KG's shoulders than the bench's, though.
We've seen the Celtics lose two close 4th quarter games, and win one. We've seen them blow the 76ers out. We've seen them lose a big lead.
I think we can give Philadelphia some serious credit for a pair of good 4th quarter performances. And even more credit for coming back from a 17 point 3rd quarter deficit. They've certainly got more character than Atlanta. And the Celtics can't afford to ease off the throttle and relax anymore.
The 76ers have an aggressive instinct about them. And they'll attack any sign of weakness. They have alligator blood.
Game 5 tonight in Boston.