|Fast Break: Celtics find offense, take 2-1 series lead||05.16.12 at 9:27 pm ET|
The Celtics followed up their lackluster Game 2 performance by putting together perhaps their best game so far in the playoffs, beating the 76ers 107-91, taking back homecourt advantage and holding a 2-1 series lead. Rajon Rondo scored 23 points to go along with his 14 assists. Kevin Garnett continued his impressive postseason run, scoring 27 points (12-of-17 shooting) and grabbing 13 rebounds. Thaddeus Young scored 22 points off the bench, leading all Philadelphia scorers.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Ticket to the Swag Show: The first quarter was the Rondo (or, as KG calls him, “Swag”) show. He scored 13 of the Celtics 28 first-quarter points. Rondo watched from the bench as Garnett went 8-of-9 from the field in the second quarter on his way to 17 points. KG abused Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand in the post after Lavoy Allen picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter.
The C’s outscored the Sixers 32-14 while shooting 13-of-19 (68 percent) in the second quarter to take control of the game. The Celtics scored 60 first-half points, for some perspective, Boston only scored 49 points through the third quarter of Game 2.
Doin’ Philly Better Than Philly: The 76ers turned the ball over the fewest times per game in the regular season and also in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics were fantastic Wednesday night, only committing two turnovers in the first half of Game 2. The 60-point offensive display put on in the first half was predicated on meticulous execution.
While the efficiency was evident through the lack of turnovers, Rondo’s decision making was superb. He pushed the ball at the right times and knew when to pull up into a half court set. The Celtics turned their five steals in the first half into 12 fast break points, and held the younger 76ers to only seven.
Loose Balls: Essentially everything the Celtics did wrong in the first two games of the series was remedied on the road in Game 3.
- Unlike in Game 2, the Celtics stepped on the Sixers throat when they had the chance, extending their 11-point halftime lead to 23 by the end of the third quarter.
- Boston was a combined 10-of-36 from 3-point territory in Games 1 and 2. On Wednesday night they weren’t great from beyond the arc, but weren’t woeful either, finishing 5-of-11 from 3-point land.
- The Celtics played the aggressor while getting to the line 28 times, when in Game 2, they settled for jump shots and only got to the line nine times.
- Finally, the Celtics held a 44-37 rebounding advantage, which has been by far their biggest vice this season.
The Truth Isn’t in the Numbers: Paul Pierce started 2-of-9 shooting. While that certainly isn’t solid start, his two baskets were on emphatic dunks that enlivened his teammates. Pierce, along with Rondo, kept Boston in contention early, keeping the deficit to just five at the end of the first quarter, before the C’s exploded in the second and third quarter. Pierce also was engaged down low battling for 12 rebounds. And although The Truth’s shot wasn’t falling Wednesday night, he earned 14 trips to the foul line, converting 11.
WHAT WENT WRONG
That Was New: More of a commentary on the lack of investigative reporting on my part, but is the phenomenal “Flexing” celebration by Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, and Ryan Hollins new? If not, how did we miss it?
Kidding aside, this was really all that could be expected from the C’s in Game 3. They took the first punch, giving up 33 first-quarter points, but only trailed by five, and dismantled the Sixers the rest of the way to regain control of the series.
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