PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia 76ers had their most efficient offensive game of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday. And they lost by 16.
This was the Boston Celtics’ night, an easy 107-91 victory to grab a 2-1 series lead and take back home-court advantage. In the wake of their anemic offensive performance in Game 2 and countless articles (including this one) about their inability to score, the Celtics exploded for their best offensive game in a long time.
After going scoreless on their first four possessions of the game, the Celtics did what Doc Rivers has been asking for the last two days. They went to Kevin Garnett in the post on their next two possessions. He gave them two short jumpers over Elton Brand, and the flood gates opened from there.
Rajon Rondo also set an aggressive tone early, scoring 13 points before he recorded a single assist. Garnett owned the Sixers bigs in the post and led all scorers with 27 points. And Paul Pierce finally got into the scoring act. He shot just 6-for-17 from the field, but got to the line 14 times.
All around, the Celtics were sharper than we’re used to seeing them. The ball movement was crisp and contagious all night. And after the Sixers scored 33 points in the first quarter, Boston also turned up the heat defensively.
It’s doubtful that the Celtics can pour it on like this again in this series, and in the playoffs, every game has its own personality. But Boston clearly found a rhythm in Game 3 that can help them going forward.