76ers 91, Celtics 92
It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the playoffs never are.
The Celtics pulled off an incredible series-opening win Saturday night in TD Garden, 92-91 over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers. They needed a couple of key plays to go their way in the final seconds, and much like we saw in the first round, luck was on Boston’s side.
Boston has three future Hall-of-Famers on its roster who are shot-makers. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen can get it done from nearly anywhere on the floor. However, when the C’s needed a bucket the most Saturday night, they went where no one would have expected them to – to Rajon Rondo.
The C’s ran a misdirection play that featured a pick-and-roll between Pierce and Garnett at the left elbow. When Pierce dribbled to the right elbow, he was double-teamed, and as Garnett crashed to the basket, Evan Turner rotated down to defend him.
And that’s exactly what Boston wanted.
That left Rondo wide up for a curl to the left elbow and Pierce found him for an open look. Just as Rondo has been doing on a consistent basis lately, and particularly during tonight’s fourth quarter, he drilled the big jumper.
“He wanted those shots,” Doc Rivers said of his point guard, who made three jumpers in the final 5:50 of the game. “We ran that play – we were going to switch Ray and put him in that spot where the guy curls back up, and Rondo wanted that play. He wanted the shot and he took it.”
And made it. That jumper put the C’s ahead by five with 56.3 seconds left, but Rondo wasn’t done with the heroics just yet.
He committed a foul that sent Jrue Holiday to the line with 3.4 seconds left in the game, which Rivers said was the ideal situation while leading by three points. Then, after Holiday hit both freebies to make it a 92-91 game, Rondo caught the inbounds pass from Pierce and sprinted away from Turner to dribble out the clock.
Key Box Score Line
We here at Celtics.com don’t overlook triple-doubles. That’s why Kevin Garnett’s 29 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks can take the back seat tonight. The Key Box Score Line of Game 1 belongs to Rajon Rondo, master of the triple-double.
Rondo put together his eighth career playoff triple-double tonight, the second of which has arrived during this postseason. He finished the game with 13 points to go along with game highs of 12 rebounds, 17 assists and four steals.
Yes, Rondo may have pushed for a fake-quadruple-double with his seven turnovers, but can’t we just forgive and forget? No. 9 dominated every phase of the game and willed his team to victory, as outlined in the Key Moment section placed above.
Box Score Nuggets
- Ray Allen, who scored 12 points off the bench, finished with a plus-17 in the plus/minus category.
- The Celtics outrebounded the 76ers 45-41.
- Kevin Garnett finished with game highs of 29 points and three blocks and also grabbed 11 rebounds.
- There were 15 blocked shots in the game, eight by Philadelphia and seven by Boston.
- Paul Pierce played exactly 40 minutes.
- Both teams shot 36-of-82 in the game, an incredibly rare occurrence.
- Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists. He also grabbed a game-high four steals.
- Andre Iguodala led the 76ers with 19 points.
- Pierce scored 14 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists.
- Evan Turner had a solid game with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
- Even though this finished as a one-point game, there was only one tie in the entire game.
- The Celtics shot just 2-for-18 from 3-point range. Both of those makes came from Allen.
- Rondo committed seven of Boston's 13 turnovers.
- Boston shot 18-of-19 from the free-throw line.
Quote of the Night
Doug Collins on the performance of Kevin Garnett: "Garnett, I’ve never seen him play better."