BOSTON — Before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked to name the player on the Philadelphia 76ers that he doesn’t want to see with the ball in a late-game situation.
“Lou Williams,” Rivers replied. “Guys who can just make shots, no matter what defense you play, always scare you.”
A few hours later, the game was on the line and the ball was in Williams’ hands. And that turned out to be good news for the Celtics, because Williams was being defended by their resident ball hawk, Avery Bradley.
With the Sixers down two and 2:40 on the clock in the fourth quarter, Williams was isolated on Bradley and thought he could take him off the dribble. He was wrong.
Bradley got his hands on the ball, and it was going the other way.
Less than 30 seconds earlier, Williams looked to have a breakaway lay-up to put the Sixers up three. But Bradley denied him at the rim, a block that led to a quick Kevin Garnett basket on the other end of the floor, a basket that gave the Celtics the lead for good.
Final: Celtics 92, Sixers 91. Boston’s defense wasn’t at its best in Game 1, but Bradley came up with the timely stops to give his team the early series lead.
And with Bradley on his side, Rivers really shouldn’t be too afraid of Williams.