Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Celtics 108 - 76ers 89: C's Win 5th Straight in Playoff Push

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Remember after the loss to the Orlando Magic last week everyone was worried that the Celtics play down to their competition when playing a lesser opponent?  The Celtics put that theory to bed as they crushed the perennial Tankopalooza Championship Belt Holders in their fifth straight victory, which also catapulted them into a 3-way tie for the last two spots in the playoffs.

Tyler Zeller’s career high 26 points eased the Celtics past the Philadelphia 76ers 108-89. The game was never really in doubt as the Celtics came out the gate with a dominant first quarter. The Celtics shot 13 for 20 and outscored Philly but 20 points in the opening quarter.

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Zeller was a beast and put up easily his best performance of his  NBA career. He feasted on an awful 76ers defense all night and again proved how valuable of a player he is to the Celtics playoff hopes. He continued his hot play of late and has led the team in scoring in two consecutive games. Zeller has been taking advantage of great ball movement and has shown he must be considered a true upper echelon starting NBA center.

Avery Bradley’s dominant performance was also a  major reason for the Celtics blowing out the 76ers. He poured in 20 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists and played his usual stout defense. Bradley has shown no ill effects of his sore elbow that sidelined him for 3 games. Since returning he’s been the most consistent player over the past four games averaging 15.8 points and 1.75 steals per contest.

Boston notched 7 players in total with double figures in a complete team effort that we’ve become accustomed to seeing. The bench had a strong showing with Luigi Datome and Jae Crowder chipping in 10 points each. Phil Pressy put up another rock solid 20 minutes doing the little things and playing very aggressive on the defensive end.

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Boston beating the 76ers isn’t really too much of a surprise as Philly fall to 15-52 on the year, but the major story is that finally the C's have been able to catch the pack vying for the final two playoff spots.  The current 5 game win streak, which is the longest of the Brad Stevens Era in Boston, has the Celtics tied with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for the 7th seed in the East.

The Celtics beat the Heat and Pacers on this current win streak. They are 1-2 against Miami this season, but do own the tie breaker with Indiana, as they are 2-1 against the Pacers. Charlotte puked all over their shoes last night as they scored a measly 66 points against the Utah Jazz  in a losing effort. They dropped a ½ game back in the race. The C's have a game left against each of these teams as we are looking at a very entertaining battle for the seventh and eighth seed in the East.

Up next for the Celtics is Russell Westbrook and the Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka –less Oklahoma City Thunder. Big test for the C’s as the Thunder also are fighting for their playoff lives.

Sean Dutra
Follow me on Twitter:@SeanDutra

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