Entering Monday night’s Game 2 of his team’s playoff series against the Celtics at TD Garden, Sixers coach Doug Collins said he wanted a repeat of at least one thing his team did in Game 1 - the way it rebounded.
“If we rebound the ball, we have a chance,’’ Collins said. “Rebounding is very important. If we do rebound the ball, we think we can do things with our early offense.’’
That’s how it worked out in Saturday’s first game, a 92-91 Celtics victory, as the Sixers jumped to 13-point first-half lead but gave it back, and then built another lead in the fourth quarter and gave that back, too.
Monday night, however, the Sixers did reverse the trend, not only outrebounding the Celtics, 47-36, but claiming an 82-81 victory that tied the series.
Collins knows that rebounding is not one of the major strengths of his team.
“We’re [winning] by the grace of God,’’ said Collins, pointing to Philly’s Game 6 series-clinching victory over the Bulls last week. “We got outrebounded, 56-33. Boston is not a team that [rebounds] as much as Chicago did.’’
Through their first seven playoff games, the Sixers had outrebounded their opponent in only one game and were outboarded by a 5.5 per game average. During the regular season, the Sixers were 20-11 when they outrebounded their opponent and 15-20 when they lost the battle on the glass.
Collins said good rebounding leads to a lot of positive things for his team. “In the first quarter [Saturday, the Celtics] had no fast-break points. They had 14 in the last quarter.’’
The Sixers planned to be aggressive Monday night on the boards, but struggled early as the Celtics jumped to a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes.
Although the Sixers quickly adjusted, they trailed at the end of the first quarter, 25-21.
The Sixers sprinted to an 8-point lead at the end of the third period, similar to what happened Saturday, with Collins hoping for a different ending.
And they ended up getting the win this time, avoiding going back to Philadelphia trailing, two games to none.
“It’s important to think that in a close game you can win,’’ said Collins. “Tonight was an important night. Winning on the road and playing vs. an experienced team. I think we play some of our best basketball on the road. We’ve played 11 of our last 13 games on the road. I think our guys are very comfortable with that. We had to win on the road to get into the playoffs. I think we have a comfort level.’’
Back on beam
Guard Jrue Holiday, who was limited to 8 points in Game 1, matched that in the first eight minutes Monday night. He finished with a game-high 18 points . . . The Sixers won their first road playoff game against the Celtics since beating them in Game 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference finals. They had lost seven in a row entering Monday night . . . One of the Sixers’ strengths throughout the playoffs has been their 3-point shot defense. In Game 1, the Sixers limited the Celtics to 2-for-18 shooting on 3-point attempts. Monday night, Boston went 8 for 18 from beyond the arc
The Sixers did a better job of controlling the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett (15 points, 12 rebounds). “We tried to put strength on him,’’ said Collins. “We tried to take away his rhythm shots.’’
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.