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Filling the Void: Philly/Boston 3OT Thriller

In a season both teams would rather forget, the Celtics and 76ers put up a classic game that defined an NBA generation.

Wells Fargo Center by Peetlesnumber1 is licensed under CC BY SA-4.0

Filling the Void: Philly/Boston 3OT Thriller

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Filling the Void: Philly/Boston 3OT Thriller

We’re several weeks into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.

A Spark in a Forgettable Season

2006 was a year neither team was marking down in their history.  Come late spring, both teams would finish outside of the playoffs, with Philly coming in an incredibly disappointing 9th place at 38-44. Unfortunately, our boys in Green were even worse, sliding into 11th at 33-49.  Despite some All-Star and future star talent, Philly endured a frustrating season that would eventually see the ouster of franchise great, Allen Iverson.  On the other side of the court, Boston saw itself sliding down the standings year-over-year before bottoming out in 2007 with an abysmal sub-30 win season.  Celtics fandom was dying in Boston, with the organization resorting to gimmicks like giving season-ticket holders a free jersey of…wait for it…

Ricky Davis.  RICKY.  DAVIS.  I’m fairly certain I still have a box of Davis jerseys in my parent’s attic.  In these quaran-times, they may be more valuable as TP.

However, during this otherwise forgettable season, the Celtics and 76ers had a grind-it-out game for the ages.

The Players

Despite some ugly records, Philly and Boston had some exciting rosters.  Philly had future Hall-of-Famers Allen Iverson and Chris Webber, as well as future NBA champions Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver.  With only Paul Pierce holding the “star” moniker, the ’06 Celtics were heavily reliant on young, unproven players.  On the bench, Al Jefferson was looked at as a potential franchise cornerstone, while guys like Delonte West and Tony Allen were players with huge upside but a lot to prove.

A Triple OT Classic

If you are a fan of the modern NBA, this game likely wasn’t your cup of tea.  It was a slugfest in the early goings, with Boston and Philly exchanging leads through the first 1.5 quarters. With a three point barrage by Ricky Davis (that’s right…RICKY. DAVIS.), the Celtics went up 8 at the half.  

The Celtics rode that momentum early in the 3rd, doubling their lead to 16 midway through the quarter.  However, the inconsistent Celtics would go on to only make 2 more field goals that quarter. Fortunately for Boston, Philly’s offense was equally abysmal and the Green led by 10 going into the fourth.  For those of you familiar with the pre-Big 3 Celtics, you know what was coming next – the crash.

The 4th Quarter

Led by Iverson, Webber, and Iguodala, the 76ers stormed back.  The Celtics hot-hand got ice cold (water finds its level, Ricky) as they went through a drought that saw them not make a field goal for almost 7 minutes.  By the time the Celtics turned to their post game with Mark Blount, the Sixers had cut the lead to 5. On the heels of back-to-back 3s by Iverson, Webber gave Philly its first lead since the second quarter with only 3 minutes left on the clock.  After three lead changes, Delonte West tied things up at 101 with a step-back jumper with 50 seconds to go.  From there, neither team would score again in regulation – onto overtime we go.

The Entertainment Picks Up

After a fairly sloppy 4th quarter, both teams picked up the intensity in OT.  Great defensive plays, diving for loose balls, hard fouls – this was the NBA of the early-mid 2000s.  Philly and Boston exchanged blows, with Boston riding the reheated hand of Ricky Davis to erase a 4-point deficit with less than 2 minutes left.  

Honestly, the first OT was just some old-fashioned, gritty basketball.  On top of that, we had some classic Bill Walton-isms.  If I were to summarize his hits, two of my favorites include:

  • Calling Brian Scalabrine “Veal Scaloppini”
  • A botched handling of the final 5 seconds by Chris Webber leading to the comment, “A timeout controversy with Chris Webber – how can that be?!”

With Philly unable to get a final shot off in the waning seconds, the teams were heading for a second OT.

Double OT Ends With a Bang

If you are planning to watch just a single period in this game, make it the second OT.  Boston and Philly would put up 24 points collectively, exchanging the lead or tying the game 6 times.  After some missteps and a charging call against Philly, Boston appeared to have the game in hand.  With no timeouts left and 8 seconds on the clock, Philly had one chance to get a shot off and then turned to their sixth man – Kyle Korver.

The Heartbreaker

Despite being draped by Delonte West, Korver drills a 3 pointer as time expired, sending the game to triple OT.  At this point, fatigue was starting to settle in and Boston appeared defeated by the cold-as-ice, heartbreaking shot by Korver.

Triple OT Ends With a Whimper 

With the flip of a switch, what was a grueling, competitive battle between motivated competitors turned into an absolutely slop-fest.  7 turnovers and 2 FGs made over 5 minutes between the two teams isn’t exactly clean, crisp basketball.  It was clear that both teams were drained. Eventually, the team that made the fewest mistakes would come out with the win.  Unfortunately for Boston, five turnovers and no made FGs in the final 2.5 minutes of the game simply wasn’t going to cut it.  Philly escaped by the skin of their teeth by the score of 125-124.

Old School Basketball

As I look back, My interest in basketball waffled through the years.  I grew up with the Jordan-Pippen-Rodman Bulls, lost interest in the late 90s, but saw my passion grow again with the Walker/Pierce Celtics of the early 00s.  This was before the D’Antoni Suns shifted the game towards the run-and-gun, 3-point happy NBA we know today.  It felt like rosters were loaded with grinders – tough players that earned their minutes by taking charges, diving for loose balls, and making life impossible for opposing stars.  Watching this game, we saw flashes of the NBA to come but also the heart and fire that seemed to define a generation of team basketball.

Ultimately, the ’05-’06 campaign will never go down in the history books for Boston or Philly but, man, this game caught a generation of basketball in a three-hour frame.  For those of you missing the NBA, this game is well worth the watch.

Ryan grew up outside of Boston in Waltham, MA watching the Pats, Celtics, Sox and Bruins. Despite now living in the vastly inferior sports city of NYC, he remains a die-hard Boston sports fan and is often "that guy" in the bar ridiculing NY sports. Ryan works in tech and is the Co-Founder and President of the recently incorporated Emergent TheaterWorks in NYC, a non-profit theater company focused on producing new and underdone works.

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