Celtics Live Blog: Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo Leads C’s to 92-91 Win Over Sixers in Game 1


Celtics Live Blog: Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo Leads C's to 92-91 Win Over Sixers in Game 1Game over, Celtics 92-91: They could not catch him.

Rondo took the inbounds pass and just outran Turner, who could not reach him to foul. The Celtics take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Fourth quarter, :03.4, Celtics 92-91: Here is the difference between the Sixers and Hawks. In these tight situations, the Hawks looked spooked. The Sixers did not look scared.

Iguodala, who supposedly cannot score in the clutch, drained a 3-pointer and then found Holiday out of a double-team for a jumper. The Celtics played the odds and fouled the Sixers with a three-point lead, and Holiday hit both freebies. If the Celtics hit their free throws, they'd leave here with a win.

Fourth quarter, 1:18, Celtics 90-84: This was just an example of everyone filling their role. Bradley forced a turnover by Williams with another great defensive play, Garnett nailed another 18-footer and then Pierce, the professional scorer, forced Hawes to pick him up on a switch before stepping back for a 15-foot jumper.

Fourth quarter, 2:52, Celtics 86-84: You could watch basketball for years and not see a better defensive play than Bradley's open-court block on Holiday.

A turnover gave the Sixers a sprint-out, but Bradley waited and timed his jump perfectly. He went straight up with both hands and prevented Holiday from getting a layup. Rondo scooped up the rebound and dashed downcourt, where he penetrated and dropped the ball off to Garnett for an and-one layup.

Fourth quarter, 3:37, Celtics 83-82: The Rondo jump shot has been a discovery of the playoffs, and he showed it off again — twice — to give the Celtics the lead.

Also, Garnett is more than a little incredible, and it has nothing to do with his age. At 6-foot-11, he hit one of his automatic 18-footers to pull the Celtics within a point, in between Rondo's jumpers.

Fourth quarter, 6:26, Sixers 80-77: Allen was only 2-for-7 from beyond the arc entering the final stretch of this game, but the rest of the Celtics were even worse. The rest of the Celtics team was 0-for-10 on 3-pointers, and if not for their 17-for-18 free throw shooting, the Celtics could have found themselves down by a large margin.

Garnett was still Garnett, though, and Rondo was still Rondo. The point guard tossed a perfect deep pass to Bradey for a layup to notch his 15th assist. With 10 rebounds, Rondo was only three points from another triple-double.

Fourth quarter, 8:33, Sixers 79-73: The Sixers made the Celtics earn every point. Philly's quickness gave the Celtics fits, even in the halfcourt, and Pierce continued to have difficulty shaking whichever defender the Sixers threw at him.

Fortunately for the Celtics, Garnett stayed on his game, getting up to 22 points and skying for a highlight-reel stuff of Iguodala on a dunk attempt. It would have been a highlight either way, but Garnett made sure he did not show up on the poster. Dooling also brought key energy on the offensive and defensive end.

End of third quarter, Sixers 71-67: The Celtics played their usual solid defense, but the well-coached Sixers had a response again and again. Lou Williams, who had not really done much in the first 2 1/2 quarters, lost Rondo around a double screen and drilled a 3-pointer from the corner. It was that kind of quarter for the Celtics. Despite hustling on defense, the Sixers simply executed and made shots. The Celtics even closed the gap in rebounding to 33-30 but still trailed.

The Rondo triple-double watch also began in earnest when he sliced through the lane for a layup to close the third quarter. Rondo entered the final quarter with seven points, 13 assists and seven rebounds. He also had four steals and six turnovers.

Third quarter, 6:19, Sixers 57-53: Lavoy Allen scored his eighth point of the night, and while that alone did not prompt the Celtics' timeout, it probably should have.

The Celtics got careless after battling back into the game, losing a 53-53 tie when Rondo tossed a soft bounce pass to an unaware Pierce. Iguodala jumped on the ball, and Garnett goaltended on Turner's layup attempt to put Philly back in the lead.

Then Allen hit a short pop-out jumper. Not bad for a guy who averaged 4.1 points per game during the regular season.

Third quarter, 9:15, Celtics 48-47: The Celtics appeared to go with the "don't let the other team score at all" strategy at halftime. That usually works out.

The Celtics ran out to a 6-0 run to begin the second half, taking their first lead of the night when Bradley spun in a layup against two Philly defenders on the break.

Halftime, Sixers 47-42: Fittingly, the first half ended with Garnett taking the ball on the block and hitting a turnaround bank shot. Garnett was the Celtics' lone consistent offensive threat in the first half, scoring 14 points while playing defense on two very different players in Hawes and Young.

The Sixers' feared fast break game worked in spurts, completely reliant on when they defended well. When they could not stop the Celtics from scoring, they found it next to impossible to score themselves. The Celtics finished the first half on a 10-2 run simply by taking care of the ball and taking good shots.

The Sixers dominated the glass, outrebounding the Celtics 25-17.

The Good: Garnett must have thought the first half was an extension of Game 6 in the Atlanta series. Garnett was effective inside and outside, leading all scorers at the half. … Andre Iguodala controlled the first half even more so than Garnett. He had 12 points and five rebounds but most importantly played suffocating defense on Pierce while committing only one foul. Pierce missed five of his six shots. … Evan Turner can be inconsistent, but when he plays well he is capable of playing really well. He made everything working in the first half, going 5-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 from the line to tie Iguodala with a team-high 12 points, 10 of those coming in the second quarter. He also nabbed eight rebounds. … Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were the only Celtics other than Garnett to give Boston anything that looked like offense. Rondo had eight assists and added three steals. Allen was the Celtics' second-leading scorer with eight points, including two 3-pointers.

The Bad: Brandon Bass missed five of his seven shots, but he was not alone in his struggles. Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo were each 1-for-5 from the field.

The So-so: Pierce only shot the aforementioned 1-for-6, but he needed to spend a lot of energy guarding Iguodala. In this first half, that was a tough assignment.

Second quarter, 3:38, Sixers 45-32: The last three minutes were Sixers basketball in a nutshell. The Celtics executed on offense and got back within five points, but they missed a couple of shots and the Sixers got out on the break, and it all snowballed into an 8-0 run for Philly.

Turner led the Sixers with six of those eight points, and Iguodala put his stamp all over the first half with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists. His attacking mentality put the Celtics on their heels, and his defense was trouble for Pierce, who was already lacking lift on his left leg.

Second quarter, 6:18, Sixers 37-32: Suddenly, the shots started falling for the Celtics and stopped falling for the Sixers. The Celtics hit five of their first seven shots in the second quarter, closing the gap to five points.

Allen was the catalyst with a couple of cold-blooded threes, but the biggest difference was how active the Celtics were in their halfcourt offense. They did not dump it in to Garnett and sit back and watch, as they did in the first quarter. They recorded three assists on their five field goals, with two coming from Dooling.

Second quarter, 8:59, Sixers 35-25: The bench was able to get the Celtics finally going on offense. Allen and Dooling drained shots in the second quarter, helping the Celtics pull within 10 points. Allen, Dooling and Hollins were 4-for-6 off the bench, while the non-Garnett starters were still without a basket.

End of first quarter, Celtics 28-18: Garnett could have used some help in the first quarter. The Big Ticket was responsible for four of the Celtics' six baskets, and an unsightly first quarter it was for Boston. The C's shot 6-for-20 and were outrebounded 14-7. Iguodala went off for 10 points, but everyone in a Sixers jersey did pretty well.

Pierce had some solid moments, like when he got a big blocked shot on a fast break, but he could be in for a long night chasing around Iggy. Pierce paid for all the energy he expended on the defensive end by missing all three shots he took in the first 12 minutes.

First quarter, 2:53, Sixers 19-12: Andre Iguodala is one of the premier defensive players in the NBA, but in the first nine minutes he played pretty well at the offensive end, too.

The Sixers' much-maligned leader hit three of his first five shots, including a 3-pointer, to lead all scorers with seven points. The Sixers were shooting 53 percent from the field and holding the Celtics to 23 percent shooting.

The Celtics' four starters not named Garnett were a combined 0-for-8 shooting in the first 9:07.

Evan Turner had five rebounds, the same number the Celtics have as a team.

First quarter, 5:18, Sixers 15-6: The team that cannot shoot got off to a pretty decent start in that department. The Sixers knocked down seven of their first 13 shots to sprint out to an early lead. The Celtics were just 3-for-13 from the field in the opening minutes.

Surprisingly, it was not the transition game Philadelphia rode to its lead. The Sixers moved the ball well in the halfcourt and assisted on six of their first seven field goals.

Ray Allen and Greg Stiemsma entered for the Celtics, sending to the bench Garnett, who score the Celtics' first six points.

First quarter, 9:33, Sixers 7-2: The Sixers hit three of their first four shots, while the Celtics missed their first four to get off to an inauspicious start to the series. Brandon Bass missed three open shots before Garnett finally got the Celtics on the scoreboard.

7:20 p.m.: As if it were any surprise, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus and Avery Bradley were all expected to play despite various injuries.

Also unsurprising was that both coaches acknowledged that tempo will play a massive role in this series. Sixers coach Doug Collins admitted (not that it was a mystery) that we wanted his team to defend and get out and run. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that "if the game turns into a track meet, that's not good for us."

If the game turns into a track meet, that would probably disappoint the 18,000 or so fans who thought they bought tickets to a basketball game. That would also make for a confusing live blog.

Now that you have endured that bad joke, you have earned the right to view the probable starting lineups.

Spencer Hawes
Elton Brand
Andre Iguodala
Evan Turner
Jrue Holiday

Kevin Garnett
Brandon Bass
Paul Pierce
Ray Allen
Rajon Rondo 

8 a.m. ET: The Celtics are back in the conference semifinals, where they have been for the last five years, and this time the opponent is an old acquaintance.

The Philadelphia 76ers head into the TD Garden for the franchises' first playoff meeting since 2002 and only their third playoff meeting since the epic seven-game clash in the 1982 conference finals. Andrew Toney is not expected to suit up, although if he did, he probably would be about as mobile as Ray Allen is with his injured right ankle.

Both teams could be running on fumes after closing out their first-round series on Thursday night, but there is no time for fatigue in the playoffs. Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 8 p.m.

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