Brand opens with a bang, then fizzles in second half

The Sixers' Lavoy Allen watches as Elton Brand (left) makes a steal against the Celtics'Brandon Bass early in Game 7 in Boston.
The Sixers' Lavoy Allen watches as Elton Brand (left) makes a steal against the Celtics'Brandon Bass early in Game 7 in Boston. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 27, 2012

BOSTON - The Celtics were controlling the pace of the game and getting contributions from all five players. They were on a 10-2 run, had the momentum from the home crowd, and looked sharper than the 76ers. And that was before four minutes had even come off the clock at the TD Garden in Saturday night's Game 7.

So Sixers coach Doug Collins called a timeout. As he had said earlier Saturday, his players would be fine even if they didn't get off to a great start. But they did have to keep within striking distance of Boston. And even just four minutes in, that was in doubt.

So during the timeout, Collins looked to his 12-year veteran - 33-year-old Elton Brand - to lead his young team. Just like that, Brand took over.

The 254-pound power forward out of Duke scored eight of the next 10 Sixers points over a five-minute span as the Sixers went on an 8-3 run to remain within striking distance.

But Brand's leadership and post presence disappeared in the second and third quarters - 1 point, 3 rebounds in 14 minutes of play - and the Sixers dug themselves another hole before being eliminated from the playoffs by the Celtics.

In that first quarter, Brand shot 3 for 5 from the floor for eight points. The other eight Sixers combined for 12 points on 3-for-16 shooting.

Brand did everything Collins could have asked early. But next to nothing went right for the big man from there.

He struggled covering the versatile Kevin Garnett, who had a double-double by the time the third quarter finished.

On offense, Brand had trouble getting in a rhythm down low and couldn't make it to loose-ball rebounds.

With the Sixers down, 64-59, with seven minutes to play, Garnett tripped over the baseline, setting up Brand for an easy layup to cut the Boston lead to three.

On the ensuing trip down the court to play defense, Brand tried to spark one last run, yelling at teammates and encouraging Lou Williams to play tighter defense in the corner.

But the Sixers never got closer than three after Brand's shot and Brand played tired on defense before fouling out, though his fourth-quarter effort (6 points, 2 rebounds) was certainly an improvement over the previous two quarters.

But just as in the first quarter, that effort only kept the Sixers within striking distance. And in Game 7s, striking distance earns you a trip home.

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