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The Play That Nearly Gave Boston A Chance In Game 6

Offensively, things could not have gone much worse for the Celtics in Game 6. Beyond a quietly efficient outing from Paul Pierce (24 points) and some hot shooting by Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter, the team’s offense delivered one of their worst performance of The Big Three era.

Yet, despite the 17 turnovers and the 33.3 percent shooting the Celtics were still right there last night. After falling behind by 11 with 3:15 remaining, the Celtics strung together a quick 7-2 over the next 90 seconds, pulling them within six points with 1:40 remaining. After squandering an offensive rebound, Boston eventually got the stop they needed and had the ball down 6 with 52 seconds remaining. They would need to play perfect basketball the rest of the way to have a chance to tie, but they still had a chance.

From there, they went to a pretty familiar play, that you likely recognized. In fact, it’s a play they’ve had tremendous success in using at the Wells Fargo Center over the past few years, as seen here. The play starts as the video begins at 29 seconds, but feel free to watch the whole thing……it’ll make you feel better.

Over the years, the Celtics have gone to this Pierce/Allen pick and roll a lot, with Ray Allen slipping to the wing after a pick from a C’s big man. However, they started doing it so much and so well that teams started accounting for it. Check it out as seen in this game from 2010 against the Lakers, where Lamar Odom slipped off Kevin Garnett to challenge the Allen shot after the pick from KG:

So what did the Celtics do last night, when trailing by six points? They went back to old reliable, this time with a simple adjustment. Instead of running the pick and roll to the right, they sneakily ran it to the left side at the top of the key, and this time had Allen roll to the right wing. The result? A wide-open look, that would have made it a one possession game with 40 seconds remaining.

Now, even if Allen makes this shot, the Celtics’ still likely fall in this game. Boston would have needed another stop, and another 3 just to tie the final 40 seconds. Possible, but certainly not probable the way Boston was shooting all night.

If anything, this just goes to show you the value of a minor adjustment or twist to a play that will throw your opponent off guard. Boston has run this pick-and-roll set hundreds of times over the last five years probably, but that’s one of the first time I can remember them having Pierce take the pick to the left side of the floor (not his comfort zone) to get Ray open on the right wing. Nonetheless, despite the Sixers almost surely seeing this play on video, the subtle change to the setup alignment was enough to get Ray the wide open look.

Like 66.7 percent of the shots Boston had in Game 6, it didn’t fall. The good looks were there though for a lot of the game for this jump-shooting team. They just have to hope they will be there again for Game 7, and this time not rely on them so much.

  • High Rollers

    I'm already in B-town in my mind, jacked for Game 7. De-fense! De-fense! De-fense! De-fense! De-fense!

    Batman, where are you?!?!?! It's the biggest game of the year coming up!

    • Batman

      Don't worry!
      Even if I'm not posting I'm always watching the Cs!

  • CelticsBIG3

    I was trying to go to the game, but my friend wimped out. Hopefully he's reading this.

  • guest

    Celtics still fucking sucks

    • NHBluesMan

      nice grammar there guest… and really a logical argument and valid point…

      except, not at all

    • Guest

      Dude get a life you are obviously ignorant and a complete loser. You probably wrote that from your mom's basement. How about you get off your behind, find a real job, and stop loving on welfare you greasy loser.

    • Guest

      Dude get a life you are obviously ignorant and a complete loser. You probably wrote that from your mom's basement. How about you get off your behind, find a real job, and stop living on welfare you greasy loser.

  • ElRoz

    Phli are just a bunch of scavengers – they should not have made it past the 1st round nor be in this series – all due to other teams' injuries. Phily doesn't deserve to be here. That is clear.

    Dooling can play D and can hit the 3-pointer…it would be good to start him with the other four guys – that way it will not be a big drop off. I'd rather have Dooling start with Pierce, Rondo, KG, Bass, than come off the bench.

    • Jzm

      Hey, you can only play the team fielded in front of you. I give Philly a lot of credit. Nobody gave them a chance in this series, but they haven't backed down, not even in the blow-out win. They have heart, and that's something you can't say for a lot of teams in this league (e.g. the Hawks).

  • ElRoz

    Rose, Deng, Noah….Bradley, Allen, hobbled Pierce: Phily is a scavenger, not a team that deserves to be here.
    They don't belong.

  • phreesh

    Celtics fans, how far can the Celtics go with all these injuries?

    Even if they get past Philly, do they have a chance in the next round?

    • CG12

      Not feeling too optimistic about a long-term run. I think they will pull it out on Saturday (but it wouldn't surprise me greatly if they didn't), but would not have high hopes against the Heat. No Avery and dinged up PP and Ray means our top perimeter guys just aren't where they would need to be to make it a real series. But who knows, just when you count these guys out, they roar back like crazy. Anything is in play – I won't be surprised no matter what happens.

  • SSt1

    As always, u Celtic fans can't get enough of yourselves. You're getting too old and the 76rs are just young and getting strong. Get used to eatin philly cheesteaks instead of beans…. HA!