After a pair of one-point games to start the series, the Boston Celtics dominated the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series. After allowing 33 first quarter points, the Celtics held the Sixers to 33 combined points over the next two quarters to build a lead as large as 27. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combined for 74 points as the Celtics rolled to the 107-91 win.
The Sixers started the game shooting the ball well, but Rondo and Garnett went into attack mode for the Celtics and kept them close early. After struggling to score in Game 2, the Celtics needed Rondo to take a game over offensively and that's exactly what he did in the first-half. He repeatedly drove to the basket and broke down the Sixers' defense with his quickness. The Sixers allowed the fewest points in the paint of any team in the regular season, but in Game 3 they never responded to Rondo's penetration and Garnett's post-up game. The result was an extended stretch of dominance by the veteran team. Three Celtics already had double-doubles as the team held a 23-point lead through three quarters.
The game was also an important one for Pierce who scored 24 points after combining for just 21 in the first two games of the series. While he hasn't been shooting well from the perimeter since his knee injury, he continues to attack the basket effectively and his driving game sent him to the line 14 times in Game 3.
The Celtics' strategy hasn't changed much since their series with the Atlanta Hawks. Both opponents are good defensively and strong in transition, but vulnerable in a halfcourt game. Through the first three games of the series, the Celtics have held the Sixers to just 11 fast break points per game and 88 points per game overall. In Game 3, Boston committed just seven turnovers and outrebounded the Sixers by seven, preventing them from getting into the open court. If they replicate that performance in Game 4, it will be very difficult for the Sixers to even the series.
Boston's win puts the pressure on the Sixers in Game 4 as they can't afford to fall behind three games to one on their home court. Game 4 will take place on Friday, May 18, at 8:00 pm.
Boston Celtics, Yahoo! Sports
NBA Stats, TeamRankings.com
William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.
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- Sports & Recreation
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- Kevin Garnett
- Rajon Rondo