Allen Iverson made a triumphant return to the Philadelphia 76ers' court Wednesday, then his former team gave fans more to celebrate with a 82-75 win against the Boston Celtics to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Jrue Holiday had 20 points and Elton Brand added 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Sixers recovered from a 33-point first half to send the series back to Boston on Saturday. The teams have alternated victories.
"I think it's going to be crazy, especially being over there in Boston. I'm looking forward to it," Holiday said of his first Game 7.
The eighth-seeded Sixers, improving to 5-0 this postseason in games following a loss, burst out of the halftime locker room with 27 third-quarter points to take a four-point lead. They built to an 11-point lead and never gave life to the Celtics, whose franchise record is 17-4 at home in Game 7s.
Since the Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett came together for Boston, the Celtics are 2-11 in potential closeout games on the road. They will try again Saturday to reach the third conference finals since they formed in 2007-08.
Advancing to that round is a more distant memory for 76ers fans — not since 2000-01, when Iverson averaged a league-leading 31.1 points and got them to the NBA Finals and a five-game loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics, shooting 33%, were led by Pierce with 24 points and Garnett with 20.
These 76ers have won seven games in the playoffs, tying them with last postseason's Memphis Grizzlies for second most victories by a No. 8 seed.
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