Celtics 107, 76ers 91
Remember when the Boston Celtics struggled to put the ball in the basket during the middle quarters of Game 2? Well, the Philadelphia 76ers caught that plague tonight.
Philadelphia started out Wednesday’s Game 3 with efficiency at the offensive end and held onto a 33-28 lead after the first quarter. All was all rosy for the men in blue and red thanks to a 61.9 percent shooting performance in the stanza. But that, my friends, is fool’s gold against a team like the Celtics. Hanging up a quarter like that on Boston is certainly impressive, but everyone in the building knew it wouldn’t continue.
The 76res’ hot first quarter woke up the Green Giant that is Boston’s defense. The Celtics, known by many around the league to be the best defensive squad in the NBA, showed that prowess off in the second and third periods.
The first quarter featured 33 points for Philadelphia. The second and third quarters featured 33 points as well. Total.
Kevin Garnett led a ferocious Celtics defense that put its hands around the Sixers offense and squeezed the life out of it. Philadelphia shot a total of 11-of-38 over the course of the second and third quarters and committed five turnovers.
Thanks to the defense shutting down the Sixers at one end of the floor, Boston’s offense was able to play in transition and score at will while Philadelphia faded away. The C’s scored 61 combined points in the middle quarters on the back of a 23-of-36 shooting performance. That just cannot be stopped.
When all was said and done, the Celtics had turned this one into a laugher and ran away with Game 3 by a score of 107-91. The game wasn’t even as close as the score would indicate, and now home-court advantage has returned to Boston’s back pocket.
Key Box Score Line
Welcome to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Paul Pierce.
Pierce, who had struggled to 21 total points over the first two games of this series, came to life tonight in Philadelphia. The captain dropped in 24 points in less than 37 minutes of play. Yes, that’s three more points tonight alone than he had scored in the entire series heading into Game 3.
There was life in Pierce’s legs that simply hadn’t yet been seen in this series. He blew by his defenders for two early dunks, and those plays seemed to energize him. He got to the line for a game-high 14 free throw attempts and made 11 of them. Pierce also grabbed 12 boards on the night, which nearly doubled the highest total that any Philadelphia player recorded (eight by Evan Turner). Additionally, No. 34 dished out four assists and grabbed three steals while not committing a single turnover.
We all knew that Pierce would return to his game at some point of the series. That moment arrived tonight.
Box Score Nuggets
- Three Celtics (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo) recorded double-doubles while not a single 76ers player did.
- Pierce finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
- Kevin Garnett had 27 points and 13 rebounds.
- Rondo logged 23 points and 14 assists.
- Philadelphia scored as many points, 33, in the second and third quarters combined as it did in the first quarter alone.
- Boston shot 51.9 percent from the field while Philly shot just 40.7 percent.
- The Celtics outrebounded the 76ers by a count of 44-37.
- There were only 16 combined turnovers in the game.
- Boston dished out 26 assists compared to just seven turnovers.
- Both teams shot at least 45.5 percent from downtown.
- Mickael Pietrus scored 13 points off the bench for Boston.
- Ray Allen and Avery Bradley, Boston's top two shooting guards, combined to score just three points.
- Not a single player on Boston's team committed more than one turnover.
- Ryan Hollins blocked three shots for Boston.
- Thaddeus Young had a breakout game for Philadelphia with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
- Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks each scored 13 points off of the bench for Philadelphia.
- The Sixers' bench outscored the starters by a count of 55-36.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on the mental state of his team heading into Game 3: "I don’t know if we were tougher, but mentally I thought we were in the right place."