(Sports Network) - For one night at least Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics
made us all put away the age jokes.
There were no cracks about Garnett sitting next to Moses in history class or
Paul Pierce being born when the Dead Sea was sick. Not on Wednesday when
Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Pierce all recorded double-doubles by the time
the fourth quarter began, as the aged Celtics rolled over the Philadelphia
76ers, 107-91, in the pivotal Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal
It has been nearly a decade since there was a second round playoff game in
Philadelphia and the anticipation was palpable as 20,351 fans filed in to
Wells Fargo Center and picked up their red T-shirts that sported the Sixers'
marketing slogan: "Passionate, Intense, Proud."
It should have read "Indifferent, Moderate, Sad."
Instead of an electric atmosphere, the sellout crowd was treated to 20-plus
minutes of garbage time as Boston ran the Sixers off their own floor.
"We ran into a Celtic team that had a real sense of purpose about them
tonight," 76ers coach Doug Collins said. "You could see from moment one they
were looking to push the ball in every situation."
The upstart Sixers, after earning a surprising split in Boston, came out hot
offensively and forgot about the end of the floor that got them to the dance
as the Celtics outscored the defensive-minded club by a 61-33 count in the
second and third quarters.
"I thought we got seduced a little bit tonight," Collins said. "I thought
early in the game we were scoring and we were in a nice rhythm and I didn't
think we ever got any kind of defensive mindset the entire night. They just
sliced and diced, got shots they wanted to get."
Garnett finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds, Rondo added 23 points and 14
assists and Pierce put up 24 points and 12 boards despite dealing with an
ailing left knee.
"I think our team responded well tonight. We were pretty focused," Rondo said.
"We wanted to...send a message tonight and I think we did a pretty good job of
Boston committed just seven turnovers and was shooting over 60 percent for a
spell before settling in at 52 for the game against a Sixers club that allowed
the third fewest points per game (89.4) during the regular season.
"We made shots and when you make shots, everything looks better," Celtics
coach Doc Rivers said. "You're in a make-miss league. It always will be and we
made some shots, but I thought we got shots the right way."
The two Sixers big men, Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes. have managed to make
Garnett, who turns 36 later this week, into a superstar again throughout the
series. On Wednesday they put him in a time machine with embarrassing defense
and he was the 2004 NBA MVP again.
Brand, on the other hand, played like he was 63 and the pre-game layup line
proved to be the toughest test K.G. and the Celtics faced in Game 3
"He's a great player," Sixers forward Thaddeus Young said of Garnett. "He's
just cranked it up to another level in this whole playoff series. We just have
to go out there and find a way to stop him, which is probably just pushing him
out of the paint and not letting him get as many post-ups, double team him on
the catch a little bit more and get the ball out of his hands."
Young had a team-high 22 points off the bench for Sixers, whose starters
combined for 36 points on dismal 30 percent (12-of-40) shooting. Lou Williams
and Jodie Meeks each added 13 points for Philly.
"Right now this is all new to us and it's good," Collins said. "It's good that
we're going through this and we're learning from this, and hopefully we're
going to be a lot better."
Stopping Garnett is mission No. 1 if the Sixers plan to make this a series
again in Friday night's Game 4, also in South Philly.
"You have to do a better job early," Collins said. "You can't let him get such
deep position. You can't let him run underneath the rim, turn and face the
basket. You have to meet him at the free throw line."
This rivalry began all the way back in 1949-50 when the Sixers franchise
called Syracuse home. Since the team relocated to the City of Brotherly Love,
the 76ers and Celtics have met in the postseason 11 different times and eight
of those were Eastern Conference finals. Boston has taken seven of the 11
Game 5 of the set will take place Monday in Boston.
The Sports Network