Celtics take Game 7 to eliminate 76ers and advance against Miami Heat; Red Sox walk-off with a win against the Rays

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Boston had a wonderful night yesterday. The Red Sox beat the Rays last night in the first game of the series in an awesome walk-off win fashion. Saltalamacchia was the Red Sox savior of the night. On a 0-1 pitch from Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the 9th with one out and a runner on 2nd, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two run walk-off homer over the Red Sox’s bullpen which received a huge thunder of cheers from the Fenway crowd. Beckett did well last night (besides giving up a go-ahead run, but hey we got a walk-off!) keeping the Rays at bay. He went seven innings, giving up four hits and striking out five batters. Rich Hill ended up getting the win, since he came out in the 9th after Miller was in the 8th. Oh yah and the best part about the Salty walk-off was that he was just in pinch-hitting for Marlon Byrd and it was his first career walk-off homer. Way to make a big impact, Jarrod. Now the Sox are once again back at .500 baseball and have placed the Rays one game behind the AL East leader, the Baltimore Orioles.

The next game begins today at 1.35pm on NESN as well as TBS. It will feature Clay Buchholz (4-2, 7.84 ERA) against Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 2.73 ERA).

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty
Rajon Rondo is still searching for consistency from game-to-game in the playoffs, but he saved the series and helped the Celtics advance to the Conference Finals by taking charge in Game 7.

The Boston Celtics have advanced themselves to the Eastern Conference Finals in an 85-75 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. Rondo lead the team after Pierce got fouled out of the Game 7 (Pierce’s sixth personal foul with 4:16 to play as the Celtics clung to a small 3-point lead), but Pierce finished with 15 points and nine boards. Rondo scored 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while KG posted 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Boston Celtics will take on the Miami Heat next on Monday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It will start at American Airlines Arena for the first two games. Game 1 will air on ESPN at 8.30pm.

Celtics look to eliminate 76ers from playoffs tonight in Game 6

Drew Hallowell/NBAE/Getty
Paul Pierce has scored 24.0 PPG in two games at the Wells Fargo Center during this series.

Tonight the Celtics take on the Sixers again. The Celtics are ahead in the series with a 3-2 lead. If they win tonight they’ll advance pass the Eastern Conference semifinals. The game begins at 8pm on ESPN from Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics won the Game 5 in awesome 101-85 victory to regain the series lead. Check out the Game 6 preview below by Marc D’Amico.

Arbella Game 6 Preview: Celtics at 76ers

By Marc D’Amico
May 23, 2012

Arbella Playoffs

BOSTON – It took the Boston Celtics (7-4) two tries to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks from the 2012 NBA Playoffs. They hope they can cut that number in half when they try to kick the Philadelphia 76ers (6-5) to the curb for the first time at 8 p.m. tonight in the Wells Fargo Center.

The Celtics have not been great at capitalizing on the opportunity to eliminate teams from the playoffs over the past five seasons. Since 2007-08, Boston has played 21 games in which it could have eliminated an opponent from the playoffs and gone just 10-11 in those contests.

Doc Rivers has been on Boston’s sidelines for every one of those 21 games. He understands that his team hasn’t been great in these situations. He also understands that ending Philadelphia’s season tonight will not be a simple task.

“Well it’s not going to be easy,” Rivers said following Game 5. “Listen, this series is hard. They’re a good team. They’re an athletic team. Every minute you think we’re leaking oil, physically. So we’ve got a quick turnaround here and we’re going to have to be ready.”

Thankfully the turnaround isn’t such that requires a back-to-back. Both teams had Tuesday off, a day the Celtics used to watch film and take their short flight to the City of Brotherly Love. Boston has struggled while playing in Philadelphia over the past few seasons, but it has played extremely well in the Wells Fargo Center during this series.

The Celtics blew the Sixers out in Game 3 by a score of 107-91. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each scored at least 23 points in that contest to lead Boston to the victory.

Game 5 looked as if it was going to have a similar result. The Celtics jumped out to an 18-point lead in that contest thanks to strong play from Pierce (24 points) and Rondo (15 points, 15 assists). However, Boston’s offense fell apart in the second half and Philadelphia completed an enormous comeback.

“I just told our guys, I said, ‘You know we’re just going to keep fighting. That’s what we do. It ain’t pretty. Just keep grinding it,’ ” Doug Collins told reporters after that game.

That’s exactly what the Celtics must take note of heading into tonight’s Game 6. The Sixers have proven time and time again that they will not quit or go away quietly. Likewise, the C’s have proven the same point. Neither team has been able to win consecutive games in this series through the first five contests.

Boston will be looking to buck that trend tonight. The Celtics finished off the Sixers with ease in Game 5, winning by 16 points, and if they can do the same tonight they’ll be the first team to advance to the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Attack the Glass

The Celtics overcame the odds in Game 5 by winning the contest despite losing the rebounding battle 37-31. It was the first time in this series that the winning team had been outrebounded. Let’s be clear in stating that the possibility of that happening again is highly unlikely.

Boston must attack the glass tonight with much more fury than it did during Monday’s game. Not a single player on the team grabbed more than six rebounds, and Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass were the only Celtics who grabbed more than four.

Winning the rebounding battle requires a team effort, and it will also require Garnett returning to his double-digit rebounding ways.

Active Hands

What was the one thing that stood out to Collins the most after his team was run off the court in Game 5? The fact that his team didn’t take care of the ball.

“You can’t play one-handed against this team,” Collins said. “You can’t make careless, one-handed pass against this team. They’re too good; they’re quick. Their perimeter guys have great anticipation.”

Collins’ team did play carelessly Monday night. The Sixers committed 15 turnovers that led to 18 points for the Celtics. Five of those 15 turnovers took place in the most critical stage of the game in the third quarter.

Philadelphia cannot afford to make lazy mistakes like this tonight if it is going to avoid the end of its season.

Perimeter Defense

When it was announced that Avery Bradley would sit out Game 5 with a pair of sore shoulders, everyone assumed that the floodgates would be opened up for Philadelphia’s guards. After all, Bradley is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.

The Celtics’ guards had something to say about that. They shut down Philadelphia’s perimeter scorers for the majority of the contest, as Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams combined to score just 27 points on 10-of-26 shooting.

To put it bluntly, if the Sixers’ top-scoring guards shoot like that again tonight, Philadelphia would need a miracle to win the game. Boston shut those players down without Bradley, and there’s a possibility that Bradley will boost the lineup with a return in Game 6. That’s not good news for Philly fans.

Philly teams beat Boston, Sox lose first game of the series; Celtics drop Game 4, series tied 2-2

Getty Images
Daniel Bard pitched during the game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The Boston Red Sox didn’t do well against the Phillies. Bard struggled right off the bat in the first inning. He allowed four runs to the Phillies. Bard immediately walked Rollins to begin the game and also got Juan Pierre to ground out. But then Bard gave up two consecutive walks to Victorino and Pence to load the bases, which later allowed Carlos Ruiz to score two runs on a single. Then Wigginton hit a sacrifice fly to score Pence and finally as the last run of the inning, Bard gave up an RBI single to Mayberry.

Aviles managed to put the Red Sox on the board with a solo shot in the top of the 3rd. But still the Red Sox were down 1-4. Daniel Nava added on another run in the top of the 4th by hitting a sacrifice fly to score Cody Ross. Daniel Bard didn’t give up another run to the Phillies until the bottom of the 5th inning when Hunter Pence hit a home run to put the Phillies up five runs to the Sox’s two. The Red Sox continued to chip away at the lead. Cody Ross banged a home run in the top of 6th and then Gonzalez also hit one out of the park to put the Sox up even closer to the Phillies, 4-5. But Franklin Morales also gave up a solo HR to Galvis in the 8th and then Papelbon, former Red Sox closer, shut down the Sox in the top of the 9th for any hope of trying to come back from the run deficit.

The 9th could’ve been different though. Marlon Byrd grounded out; however I totally believe that Ty Wigginton came off the bag when he jumped to catch shortstop’s Jimmy Rollins throw. Bobby Valentine got ejected by the home plate umpire for arguing the call though I totally would’ve argued that call if I was in Bobby’s shoes. The argument was interesting to watch especially considering the umpire’s gum went flying out of his mouth and just hit Bobby in the face.Anyway, Papelbon got his 12th save of the season with his new team and Hamels continued to be stellar, getting his 6th win of the season and 6th consecutive win at that.

Tonight’s a new slate. The Red Sox look to get back on track with the help of Jon Lester (2-3, 3.71 ERA), while Philadelphia looks to Joe Blanton (4-3, 2.96 ERA). Blanton is now 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his past four starts. However, Lester is 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies. The game begins at 7.15pm on FOX.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) shoots as Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (5) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Lavoy Allen (50) wait under the basket in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series on Friday, May 18, 2012, in Philadelphia.

Also the Celtics unfortunately fell to the 76ers in Game 4 in a 92-83 defeat. Paul Pierce had a great game delivering 24 points to the board. The Celtics will start Game 5 in TD Garden on Monday, May 21st at 7pm on TNT. Hopefully the Celtics can regain control of the series before heading back to Philly for Game 6. Need Boston to beat these damn Philly teams!

Celtics take control of the series 2-1 in a dominating 107-91 victory over 76ers

Matt Slocum, AP

The Boston Celtics took the lead in the series against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. They won 107-91 to take Game 3 and the first team to win a game by double digits in this series; each of the last two games were decided by only one point. Garnett absolutely dominated again by scoring 27 points and 13 rebounds. Garnett was also 13 of the 32 points in the second quarter and turned the seven point deficit the Celtics had into a lovely 13 point lead. Pierce is battling a MCL injury and has failed to be a huge impact player the Celtics could use. He has only scored 21 points in the first two games combined; however he still managed to dunk the ball a few times in tonight’s game and received 24 of the Trio’s (Garnett, Pierce, Rondo) 74 points of the game. Additionally, Pierce had 14 rebounds. Rondo had 23 points, 14 assists, and one turnover as well.

On the other side, Thaddeus Young notched 22 points, while Jrue Holiday scored 15 points for the 76ers. In addition both Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks scored 13 points each.

The next game will occur on Friday, May 18th at 8pm on ESPN. Once again, this game will take place in Philadelphia, but will be the last game in Philadelphia until Game 6 as Game 5 will be held in Boston.

Red Sox win first game against Mariners, Beckett takes the mound in last game; Celtics lose Game 2 and head to Philly

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Red Sox won yesterday night against the Mariners in a 6-1 victory behind Jon Lester. The first Seattle run came in the top of the 9th by Kyle Seager, but the Red Sox added on runs consistently throughout the game. Ortiz scored the first run in the bottom of the 1st. Later Gonzalez doubled which drove home Ortiz to make it 2-0. Nava continued to contribute to the Red Sox by belting a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 4th. Then Shoppach hit a solo shot to left. Then in the 8th, Byrd hit a sacrifice fly to right which allowed Middlebrooks to break to home, making it 6-0 before Seattle scored its first and only run in the 9th. Lester received his second win of the season.

The Seattle Mariners have Blake Beavan (1-3, 4.32 ERA) today while the Red Sox have Josh Beckett (2-4, 5.97). Beckett looks to regain Red Sox Nation’s confidence after losing a horrible game to the Cleveland Indians in his last start.

The Celtics on the other hand now head to Philadelphia in a tied 1-1 series. In Game 2, the Celtics lost to the 76ers 82-81. The next game will begin on Wednesday, May 16th at 7pm on TNT.

Celtics look to take 2-0 series lead against 76ers, game preview

Larry Johnson

Tonight the Celtics continue the second round series against the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. The game will begin at 7pm. Once again it will air on TNT. Hopefully the Celtics can take the 2-0 series lead before they head to Philadelphia’s turf.

Here’s a preview article by Marc D’Amico on tonight’s upcoming game.

Arbella Game 2 Preview: 76ers at Celtics

By Marc D’Amico
May 14, 2012

Arbella Playoffs

BOSTON – Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup between the Boston Celtics (5-2) and the Philadelphia 76ers (4-3) will take place at 7 p.m. tonight in TD Garden. Boston, which won Game 1 Saturday night, will look to advance its home record in the playoffs to 5-0.

The Celtics took Philadelphia down by a score of 92-91 Saturday night in the Garden in front of a raucous crowd. Boston came back from as many as 13 points down, including a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, to steal the series-opening win.

“Every time we’d take the lead they’d make a run, but we just gathered ourselves, gathered ourselves, kept grinding, kept grinding,” Paul Pierce said after the game. “We started rebounding the ball a lot better and the defense really settled in and that’s why we took the lead and overcame.”

Paul Pierce fired up 11 shots against Andre Iguodala and the Sixers in Game 1, but only three of them fell through the hoop. (Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty)

Getting over that hump Saturday night was monumental for the Celtics. They have put themselves in a great spot in this series, as they enter tonight’s game with an opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. That’s a much more favorable position than they would be in had they lost. Attempting to avoid an 0-2 hole on your home floor is almost a must-win situation.

While Boston is sitting pretty after its series-opening victory, Philadelphia is on the other end of the spectrum. Its goal of winning one of the first two games of the series is still alive, but losing in the fashion that it did in Game 1 could be demoralizing for a young team like the Sixers.

Doug Collins’ team is comprised of 14 players whose average age is about 25 years old. These youngsters are making just their second postseason run together and continue to learn by the day. Despite those facts, Collins is confident that his team will display plenty of confidence when it returns to the court for Game 2 tonight.

“If you followed our team all year, that’s sort of who we are – we’re not going to drop our heads. We don’t do that,” Collins said shortly after Game 1. “We’ll live to come back and we’ll fight just as hard in Game 2.”

If the 76ers deliver on that promise, Boston will need a shot in the arm prior to tip-off. Doc Rivers acknowledged after Saturday’s game that Philadelphia came out swinging and had the Celtics on their heels. The C’s struggled to 30 percent shooting in the first quarter, putting themselves in a double-digit deficit that they had to fight back from all night long.

Despite leading the Sixers for a total of just 5 minutes and 22 seconds of playing time in Game 1, the Celts somehow snagged a big win at home. They’ll try to do the same thing tonight, but hopefully in a much easier fashion.

Philly’s Defense on KG

Of all of the comments Collins made following Game 1, the most surprising one indicated that he and his coaching staff have decided to let Kevin Garnett beat them rather than Boston’s perimeter players.

“We’re not going to run out at him,” Collins said of Garnett. “We’re going to obviously to try and get a hand in his face, but then all of a sudden you start running around and doing all that, now you free up Paul Pierce and all these other guys. I mean, you have to pick your poison.”

Garnett has definitely been poison for opponents. He dropped 29 points in Game 1 to follow up a 28-point performance in Game 6 against Atlanta. Garnett is locked in right now.

We might see a radical defensive change for the 76ers tonight despite what Collins insinuated with the quote above. With Pierce, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley all hobbled, it might be a wise decision to let them be the poison rather than Garnett.

Which leads us to…

Overall Health

Everyone knew that the C’s headed into Game 1 with a long list of ailments, most notably to Pierce (knee sprain) and Allen (sore ankle). Although Pierce nailed a big jumper late in the game, he shot just 3-for-11 and had no lift on his shot. Meanwhile, Allen scored 12 points off of the bench but seemed to aggravate his injury on several occasions.

“I thought 10 different times he was hurt again,” Rivers said of Allen. “He hit the floor four or five times.”

Boston did not practice on Sunday to give its ailing bodies some time to heal up. The team was able to escape Game 1 despite those injuries resulting in subpar performances. Overcoming those odds in two consecutive games is quite a challenge. That’s why the Celtics need Pierce and Allen to shoot the ball more efficiently this time around.

Contest Perimeter Shots

Rivers calls Lou Williams a “shot-maker” and Jrue Holiday has been on fire in the playoffs. That guard combo is a big reason why the Sixers are where they are today. However, Williams and Holiday struggled mightily in Game 1, combining to shoot just 7-for-20 from the field.

To put it simply, Philadelphia is not going to win this series with those two players shooting so poorly. There are other players on the 76ers’ roster who can put the ball through the basket, but this combo, and Williams in particular, are relied on heavily to lead the team’s shooting efforts.

Philadelphia will be looking to get these players back on track, but Boston will be looking to keep them on ice. The C’s contested Philly’s shots very well in Game 1, and that’s all you can ask for. After that, you just hope that the ball doesn’t go in… and it didn’t Saturday night.

Red Sox go 2-1 in Tribe series, take on Indians tomorrow afternoon; Celtics take Game 1 against 76ers

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox beat the Indians again with great pitching from Felix Doubront. He pitched till the 6th inning, allowed one run in the 6th, and struck out five batters, two of which were in the top of the 1st inning.

The Red Sox put themselves on the board in the bottom of the 3rd. The Sox hit back-to-back doubles by Pedroia and Ortiz, whom scored a RBI each. Red Sox took the lead 2-0. Later in the bottom of the 4th, Nava singled on a line drive and Saltalamacchia hit a ground-rule double that advanced Nava to 3rd. Aviles drove home Nava on a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0. In the top of the 6th, Kipnis scored the first Indian run of the night off of a single to score Lou Marson. But Cody Ross hit a solo shot to answer back the Indians run in the bottom of the 6th, putting the Sox up 4-1. In the top of the 7th, Miller replaced Doubront. Miller had a 1-2-3 inning, then so did Padilla. Then Aceves came out in the top of the 9th to close out the game and notch his seventh save of the season.

Tomorrow the Red Sox will play the last game of the series against the Indians at 1.35pm on NESN. Daniel Bard (2-4, 4.83 ERA) will be on the mound for the Red Sox and former Red Sox, Justin Masterson (1-2, 4.89 ERA – who I also deeply miss), will be on the mound for the Indians.

Mel Evans/AP

It’s a great night for Boston, both the Red Sox and Celtics won their matchups. The Celtics, after eliminating the Hawks from the first round, took on the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of the second round playoff series and won a close 92-91 victory at the Garden. Garnett once again had an excellent game posting 29 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks over 38 minutes. Rondo had another postseason triple-double by scoring 13 points, 17 assists, and 12 rebounds. Avery Bradley also had great defensive efforts. On the other side, Andre Iguodala posted 19 points and Evan Turner had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers.

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