jrue holiday

The buzz at the start was for Allen Iverson’s ceremonial return.

By the end, more than 20,000 fans were on their feet and going wild for Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and the rugged-and-determined play that kept the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers alive for at least one more game.

Yes, the Sixers are talking about Game 7 - and they’re taking this improbable postseason run back to Boston.

Holiday scored 20 points, and Brand had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sixers to an 82-75 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night that tied the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No team has won consecutive games in a series where neither team has played well enough to seize control. But the Sixers were good enough to win Game 6, improving to 5-0 this postseason in games following a loss…

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo could be playing their last game together Saturday night if they can’t find a way to hang onto the ball and put away a Sixers team that won’t quit…

The Celtics posted ugly numbers across the board: Blame the loss on the 33 percent shooting, the 17 turnovers or the 3 for 14 3-point shooting. Either way, there’s enough to go around. Pierce had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Garnett had 20 points and 11 boards…

Pierce led the parade to the line for the Boston. He made his first 11 attempts for a Celtics team that was 17 for 17 through three quarters. The Celtics made only 19 field goals through three.

– Reported by Dan Gelston of the Associated Press

Rondo’s final line on Wednesday - nine points, six assists and nine rebounds - was the kind you expect to see from in at the half.

“I don’t know” was C’s coach Doc Rivers’ response when asked about Rondo’s very un-Rondo-like game.

“He wanted to play well,” Rivers added. “He attacked early and missed some shots. He probably got caught in between himself because he saw the offense wasn’t working.”

Boston shot 33 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times (for 19 points).

You want to know what a recipe for defeat looks like?

Shooting that poorly and turning the ball over that many times, is a start.

And when you consider so much of Rondo’s game is dependent on others making shots, it’s not all that surprising that the Celtics All-Star’s numbers weren’t nearly as impressive as they usually are.

– Reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE

The Celtics flew home for Saturday’s Game 7 with some odious numbers, but none worse than those turned in by the architect of that win in Game 5.

Rajon Rondo, who for long stretches had as many turnovers as assists, finished with perhaps his worst night of the postseason — nine points on 4-for-14 shooting, six assists, four turnovers and his one redeeming stat of nine rebounds.

But he had company. Brandon Bass, the Game 5 hero, had eight points on 2-for-12 shooting against some intensified trapping. Ray Allen, now maneuvering on two bad ankles and struggling to keep up with Philadelphia’s quick guards, fell into foul trouble and shot 4-for-11.

They could only get so far on Kevin Garnett’s jump shooting this time. Keyon Dooling can only dig into his speech file so often.

The Celtics, now 2-11 in potential road game closeout opportunities over the last five years — the new Big Three era — are thus thanking the skies for the fact they have homecourt advantage.

– Reported by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald

Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 20 points and dealt six assists. Brand gutted through a sore neck and shoulder for 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Iguodala and Turner had 12 each, and Williams chipped in with 11.

Defensively, the group held Celtic guard Rajon Rondo to only nine points and six assists, and limited Boston to 26-for-78 (33.3 percent) from the floor and turned them over 17 times. And with starting ‘two’ guard Avery Bradley sidelined again with a shoulder injury, there weren’t many able bodies for Rivers to look to.

“It’s what we have,” Rivers said. “Avery is a great defender, but I can’t worry about [not having him]. The penetration hurt us and the isos and they were picking who they wanted [to isolate]. That’s what I would do. I know Doug well. I’m gonna give him a call and say, ‘Listen, none of that.’ We have to do a better job of helping those who can’t keep guys in front of them.

“They’re athletic, young, they’re very fast, and they play with a lot of energy. We knew coming in this would be hard. They have a quickness advantage and we understand that.”

– Reported by Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News

Evan Turner hasn’t exactly been an offensive machine during this series, but with Allen assigned to him this appeared to be a game where he could break out.

The previous two games saw Turner score in double figures, but his shooting (10-for-35) has been anything but stellar.

By halftime on Wednesday, even with the Sixers struggling to hit shots from the field - they were just 14-for-35 from the field - Turner was off to a decent enough shooting start (3-for-5) that it didn’t look too far out of the realm of possibility that the former No. 2 overall pick might put up some impressive numbers.

And while he never really got his offensive game untracked, that was less important than what he did at the defensive end.

– Reported by John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer