After an impressive Game 4 come-from-behind victory, the so-called young, inexperienced Philadelphia 76ers proved they now know exactly what it will take to defeat the veteran Boston Celtics in these 2012 NBA playoffs.
In looking at the rebounding discrepancy in each contest, the play of 76ers power forward Lavoy Allen and Celtics big man Kevin Garnett, and each team's third-quarter performances—there are several areas in which the Philadelphia 76ers must and have exploited.
The Boston Celtics are the more talented, experienced team of the two. With three games remaining, two of which will be played in Boston, there is a clear edge for the Celtics to win the series.
Yet in the two victories that the 76ers have had in this series, it has been clear that the Philadelphia 76ers have figured out a thing or two about playing against this team.
When it comes to rebounding the basketball, the 76ers may well be the most underrated team in the league in this department. This season, Philadelphia finished No. 7 in the NBA in rebounding.
This series, in the team's two wins, the 76ers have out-rebounded the Celtics each time. In the Game 2 victory the 76ers held a 47-36 edge and in Game 4, 52-38. In Games 1 and 3, the Celtics were able to come out on top and hold the slight advantage on the glass.
The other major point of emphasis is the value of Lavoy Allen on the defensive end of the floor. In the games in which Garnett has been able to dominate offensively, the 76ers have failed to win. The Celtics are a whopping 18-6 this season, including the playoffs, when Garnett scores 20-plus points in a contest.
In Allen's best defensive games, which came in Game 2 and in Game 4, Garnett struggled to get things going scoring the basketball. As a result, Philadelphia won both games in the series.
Spencer Hawes has been unable to keep up with Garnett defensively. Coming off screens, Garnett has been able to find open space nearly every time he pulls up for shots when Hawes has been chasing him. Allen brings a stronger, more physical presence that Philadelphia was missing in the frontcourt this postseason.
If Allen can continue to bring it defensively, the Celtics will have a difficult time winning two of the final three games. Garnett has been the scoring leader for this team in the playoffs and will need to produce to carry this team to the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.
Much of the credit has to undoubtedly go to head coach Doug Collins as well. Collins has had the 76ers making the proper adjustments at halftime in each game of the series.
The Celtics are a team heavily predicated on their ability to make proper adjustments at intermission and get the best of their opponents in the second half.
They are a high-IQ team that seems to always be making the proper changes to their strategy, yet they have looked as sluggish in the third quarter as they have all season against Philadelphia.
Paul Pierce and his Boston Celtics have the clear edge in the matchup. Make no mistake about it. Yet the 76ers have come out and shown the Celtics they are a team to reckon with.
A "character" win in Game 4 has shown the 76ers have a chance to win the series and will keep the Celtics on their heels in each of the next three games. If they can capitalize in the paint and keep Garnett away from his sweet spots, there is no question the 76ers could find themselves onto the next round.