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Rajon Rondo: Celtics didn’t need to lose to know Philly is no ‘pushover team’

05.15.12 at 12:18 am ET
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Given the fact that the Celtics trailed the Sixers in the Atlantic Division for most of the season before catching them at the end and pulling away to a fifth straight division crown, everyone in Boston knew coming into this series that Philly was not going to be cream cheese or cheesesteak.

It was going to be a war, just like in the 60s and 80s, when the two archrivals battled tooth-and-nail for every loose ball and every point.

Well, two games in, two one-point decisions, one for each team.

“That’s the playoffs,” Rajon Rondo said after the 82-81 decision claimed by the Sixers Monday night in Game 2. “It’s up and down. You’re not going to win 16 straight games so. Give them Philly a lot of credit. They are not a pushover team. They’re in the second round for a reason. Like I’ve said this is a tough series.”

Tough is one thing. Ugly is another, and more likely how Celtics fans would describe a game that had Boston score 25 points in the first quarter and just 56 the rest of the way. The Celtics started the game shooting 50 percent (11-for-22) in the first quarter. They made just 22 of their final 57, finishing at 42 percent for the game. They had 19 turnovers. Philly had 18.

“We made some plays but they won,” Rondo said. “We give them credit. Basketball is a game of rhythms… a game of runs. We made our runs, and then they made their runs.”

And Rondo never got on one himself. Which is essentially the reason the Sixers won and the Celtics lost. Rondo finished with eight points and 13 assists on 4-of-12 shooting in over 38 minutes of action. The Sixers were more physical Monday, both with Kevin Garnett (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Rondo.

Except for Game 2 against the Hawks, the 2012 playoffs for the Celtics have been about two players and two players only – Garnett and Rondo. The Sixers seemed to find somewhat of a management plan, if not a control button on Monday. And that plan involved two words: Get physical.

From the onset, the Sixers were determined to get a body on Garnett at every turn and get in Rondo’s face. Though Rondo did have six assists in the first quarter, he had just seven the rest of the way.

Rondo was asked if what could have been done to get Garnett more involved.

“Nothing really, KG is an unselfish player. He could have taken a lot more shots than he did,” Rondo said of Garnett’s 7-of-12 night from the field.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, NBA playoffs
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