Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Celtics show Sixers what playoff basketball is about

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - It has been nearly a decade since there was a second round playoff game in Philadelphia.

The anticipation was palpable as 20,351 fans filed in to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday 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, 107-91, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce all recorded double-doubles by the time the fourth quarter began.

The upstart Sixers, after earning a surprising split in Boston, came out hot offensively and forgot about the end 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.

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.

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.

This was Mike Tyson vs. Marvis Frazier and Roddy Piper vs. Frankie Williams rolled into one. If Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was in town, he would have lowered the sunglasses, raised his eyebrow and called the Sixers jabronies.

The Washington Generals generally put up a tougher fight against the Harlem
Globetrotters and the drunken stumblebum in section 115 during the third
quarter had more pluck in him that either Elton Brand or Spencer Hawes.

The two Sixers big men have managed to make Garnett, who turns 36 in three days, 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 the Celtics faced all night.

About the only criticism you could hurl Boston's way was wondering why Doc
Rivers left Rondo and Pierce in the rout deep into the fourth quarter, especially after watching stars like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Chris Bosh go down in these playoffs.

The prudent move would have been to put his bell cows in bubble wrap and let players like Ryan Hollins, Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling expose just how bad Philadelphia was.

But, like everything else this night, Rivers' decision proved to be the right one.

Nothing got rolled in Game 3 unless you're talking about the Sixers.

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