May 17, 2012, 1:54 AM EDT
“We ran into a Celtic team that had a real sense of purpose to them tonight,” Collins said after the game.
After the win Doc Rivers spoke of Rajon Rondo’s intensity at practice earlier in the day and how he just seemed extra focused on getting after it in Game 3. It translated to the game. Rondo controlled the tempo all night, playing the role of quarterback on the break, setting up the skill players with the ball right where they needed it.
Paul Pierce scrapped, and fueled his team’s emotion with two huge dunks just when you thought his knees were done. Kevin Garnett hit what seemed like every single mid-range jumper.
When Rondo, KG, and Pierce are all clicking like they were on Wednesday night, good luck non-green team. But the Sixers did have one lone bright spot in the loss.
The problem was that the Celtics were no longer having to settle for whatever shot they could get. Instead, they were taking the shots they wanted. That made all the difference.
While Collins spoke highly of the Celtics purpose, he didn’t want to use that to criticize his team’s effort. He’s one to give credit to an opponent who straight whoops you. The Celtics earned it.
One guy wearing red whose effort was elevated for the first real time these playoffs was Thaddeus Young, who has been battling an ankle injury.
Thad must have dusted off his Night Shift uniform from the back of his closet — Sixers fans hadn’t seen that Thad in weeks. Young led the Sixers with 22 points on a solid 10-16 shooting in 26 minutes of work. He added 5 boards, an assist, and one gigantic block (video above) that was perhaps the most exciting play of the evening.
One of his late buckets was also an absolutely crazy layup (video above) in which he appeared to change his mind in mid-air from attempting a dunk to a finesse lay in. If the Sixers had won the game, it’s probably a move we’d talk about for a long time.
While Coach Collins wasn’t too pleased following the loss, two things seemed to cheer him up in the postgame press conference. Seeing his grandkids and talking about Thad Young’s performance.
“He was just very, very active tonight,” Collins said of Thad. “He came to me before the game and he said, ‘Coach, you know I’m ready, I’m here for you any time.’ That’s who Thad is. He was one of the few guys on our team who had a real bounce to his step and I thought played with great speed and activity and he was all over the floor. That was very encouraging. Hopefully we can keep Thad doing that because he is a big part of our team and you guys know how I feel about Thad. I love him like a son. When he’s not doing well or struggling a little bit, it affects me because I cheer for him because he’s such a team guy.”
It was a tough night for cheers all around at the Wells Fargo Center, but the Philly faithful put in a respectable showing. Despite being down by about 20 in the fourth quarter, the sold out crowd was still cheering their team on pretty damn hard.
Hopefully the Sixers can bounce back, perhaps use Thad’s effort in Game 3 as a spark, and give the fans something to really cheer about on Friday night.
Doug and Thad on his aggressive game:
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