BOSTON - There's something about the Boston Celtics' 14-game winning streak that doesn't seem quite right to coach Doc Rivers.
Point guard Rajon Rondo, after the best start of his career, has missed six of the 14 wins. Backup Delonte West missed the last 12. Shaquille O’Neal sat out four. Jermaine O’Neal hasn’t played since the winning streak began. And Kendrick Perkins hasn’t been on the floor all season.
“Usually, when you’re on a winning streak, everybody’s healthy, everybody’s playing well and you’re rolling,” Rivers said Wednesday after the Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 84-80, for their 14th win in a row. “You could make the case it’s the opposite with us.”
Ray Allen scored 22 points, and Paul Pierce recovered after missing his first seven shots to score 11 with four key baskets in the second half. Shaq had 13 points and nine rebounds, but he missed two free throws with 1:02 left and Boston nursing a two-point lead.
That gave Philadelphia two chances to tie it, but Andre Iguodala slipped and turned the ball over the first time and then had his shot blocked by Kevin Garnett the next.
Allen hit a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds left to ice it.
“We’ve won games in the 100s; we’ve won games in the 80s. And we’re just finding ways to grind it out cause we don’t have the healthy bodies,” said Pierce. “You don’t know who’s going to be in there night-in and night-out.”
Elton Brand had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 15 points for Philadelphia, which was coming off its worst loss in three years – a 45-point loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.